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Woman Facing $3,500 Fine For Posting Online Review 519

Posted by Soulskill
from the hidden-so-well-it-didn't-exist dept.
sabri writes "Jen Palmer tried to order something from kleargear.com, some sort of cheap ThinkGeek clone. The merchandise never arrived and she wrote a review on ripoffreport.com. Now, kleargear.com is reporting her to credit agencies and sending collectors to fetch $3,500 as part of a clause which did not exist at the alleged time of purchase. 'By email, a person who did not identify him or herself defended the $3500 charge referring again to Kleargear.com's terms of sale. As for Jen being threatened — remove the post or face a fine — the company said that was not blackmail but rather a, "diligent effort to help them avoid [the fine]."' The terms and conditions shouldn't even apply, since the sales transaction was never completed."
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Woman Facing $3,500 Fine For Posting Online Review

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  • by Press2ToContinue (2424598) * on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:13PM (#45436923)

    Oh Slashdot - you're so edgy. Calm down.

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:21PM (#45437063) Homepage Journal

      I was going to comment that Dice hasn't done anything to ruin thinkgeek yet, but they don't actually own that one.

    • by synapse7 (1075571) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:51PM (#45437507)
      I think I come to this site out of long term habit more than anything else.
  • by ruir (2709173) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:17PM (#45437005)
    can't just she go to court for harassment and get rich?
    • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

      anybody can sue anybody for anything. it doesn't mean you'll win, and even if you do your winnings may pale in comparison to your legal costs.

      Once I sued my neighbor because her cat kept defecating in my potted plants. Judge said that I couldn't show any actual monetary damages, so that was the end of that.

      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:26PM (#45437125) Journal

        That's how the system is supposed to work. I'm assuming you went to small claims court, right? Small claims courts can't offer injunctive relief (i.e., a court order compelling her to keep the animal off your property), all they can do is offer monetary relief, and you didn't have any monetary damages.

        Frankly I think that's a pretty silly thing to sue over and it must have made you really popular in the neighborhood. There's a ton of effective ways to keep cats out of your yard, ranging from harmless (garden hose) to nasty (anti-freeze), hardly seems like something worth dragging the courts into.

      • by swb (14022)

        Should have hired a professional gardener to re-do the pots. Then you would have had a proven monetary damage.

    • by mmell (832646)
      Sure - but I'll bet their lawyers can beat up her lawyer. Welcome to America, land of the free (unless you can afford something better)!
    • can't just she go to court for harassment and get rich?

      Do you have a lawyer who will take that case for what you can afford to pay them? If so, sure. Else, haha no.

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:37PM (#45437283)
      The only people who get rich by going to court are the lawyers.
  • by rossz (67331) <ogre&geekbiker,net> on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:18PM (#45437017) Homepage Journal

    kleargear will soon discover how the internet works.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:24PM (#45437101)
      They already are. They're removing all comments from their facebook page.
      • by kermyt (99494) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:38PM (#45437301) Homepage
        And now they have disallowed all commants on their FB page.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:50PM (#45439053)

          But not their posts [facebook.com].

          Hundreds of negative things here, but instead of one-word posts, the clause should be posted.

          BUYER BEWARE
          In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.

          Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:24PM (#45439325)

          And now their FB page has been deleted.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        They already are. They're removing all comments from their facebook page.

        This is one of the reasons Facebook sucks. Companies can remove "unflattering" comments from their page, and leave only the likes and flattering ones.

        It erodes trust.... You can't look at a company's FB page, and see it as anything but marketing.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:30PM (#45437181) Journal

      Really they should discover how their State's Attorney General works.
      I'm a strong advocate for Corporate Death Sentences and banning corporate officers from owning or running another corporation for X years.

      • by leereyno (32197)

        Too bad that idea can't be applied to government(s) and the kleptocrats who corrupt it.

      • by Fjandr (66656) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:55PM (#45437583) Homepage Journal

        Indeed. I'd like to see some corporate death sentences handed down.

      • Why not just simplify things with corporate death sentences and death sentences for corporate officers? So much less paperwork and risk of 'silent partner' activity.
      • by hey! (33014) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:35PM (#45438937) Homepage Journal

        This is always *my* reaction. In my state, you don't have to hire a lawyer most of the time for this kind of thing. You call the state AG's consumer protection office and they contact the firm that's harassing you. Once they (or their lawyers, or assignees or whatever) find out you don't have to hire a lawyer yourself, they back off fast. Their game is picking on people who can't defend themselves.

        If your state doesn't work this way, then you should elect a different state government.

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          In my state, you don't have to hire a lawyer most of the time for this kind of thing. You call the state AG's consumer protection office and they contact the firm that's harassing you. Once they (or their lawyers, or assignees or whatever) find out you don't have to hire a lawyer yourself, they back off fast.

          I don't want them to "back off," I want their cancerous behaviors to be permanently excised from the public sphere:
          1. Corporate charters revoked (aka the death penalty)
          2. Civil enforcement actions banning the officers from holding any similar position.
          3. State Bar Associations revoking the licenses of any lawyers involved in the shitbaggery.

          "But that's anti-business"
          1. Only insomuch as those businesses are anti-me.
          2. The same thing was said about 40 hour work weeks, child labor laws, and every other meaning

    • (866) 598-4296 (Score:5, Informative)

      by frovingslosh (582462) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:09PM (#45437783)
      Their phone number is (866) 598-4296. They will pay for the call for you to call them and tell them what you think.
  • Diligent Efforts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:21PM (#45437067)

    All this diligent effort to quash her negative review or help them avoid supposed fines - too bad none of that effort couldn't be put to satisfying the customer in the first place or correct their mistake.

  • Hint taken. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:21PM (#45437069)

    Never ever buy anything from kleargear.com. They might ruin your credit for it.

    In fact... lets just pop that right into the hosts file right now. Just in case i forget.

    Just another shady fly by nite rip off site. Lets get this woman some donations so she can sue the shit out of them.

  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:21PM (#45437071) Homepage Journal

    blacklisting those punks.

  • by imp (7585) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:21PM (#45437075) Homepage

    First, it's not clear a contract was established. And even if it was, unilateral changes generally are unenforceable. And even if it were there when the attempted purchase was attempted, this is an unconscionable contract clause, against public policy (1st amendment, etc) and should be thrown out.

    This person's best bet is to dispute the credit reports, counter sue for whatever they can think of to recover legal fees.

    If it were me, I'd just send them a letter telling them to go F themselves and I'll see you in court. Bring it. My lawyer, however, would likely wish that I not do that.

    • Well, honestly, contacts shouldn't ever be something done in bulk like this anyways. The idea that a contract could be "Standardized" is silly. It is clearly not the result of a mutual discussion and agreement, but instead is an imposition by one party on the other.

    • Unless she doesn't value her time, or 'Kleargear' has absolutely no clout to speak of, she'll have a delightful time clearing up the matter with the credit reporting agencies...
    • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:41PM (#45437325) Journal

      First, it's not clear a contract was established.

      Looks to me like if there was a contract at all, kleargear breached it first by failing to deliver the items ordered.

      -jcr

    • by Spazmania (174582) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:42PM (#45437339) Homepage

      Contracts of adhesion (unilateral contracts) are generally enforceable but they are "interpreted against the drafter" meaning that any ambiguity is interpreted in favor of the customer.

      Click-through contracts are less likely to be enforceable than something bearing a physical signature. Add a little unconscionability and no court in the land would uphold that contract. If there even was a contract.

      The magic word you're looking for, though, is Libel. These jokers deliberately published a false statement of fact to the credit reporting agencies with the intention of damaging the individual's reputation. That's a cha-ching if you take 'em to court.

      However, this part of the story doesn't quite ring true for me. The credit reporting agencies don't like to accept reports without an SSN. Too high a risk they get applied to the wrong person. So how did folks paid via paypal get enough information to attach a complaint to the person's credit report? Maybe I just don't know enough about how the reporting agencies work but for darn sure there's nothing on my credit report from anyone who didn't have my SSN.

    • by OglinTatas (710589) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:42PM (#45437353)

      Let your lawyer craft the letter. He would be able to couch it in unimpeachable legalese and would still be able to include your general sentiments.

      It would probably be worded along the lines of: "We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram."

    • by ModernGeek (601932) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:45PM (#45437411) Homepage
      Your lawyer? Any real slashdotter would represent himself all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States and change every other precedent set before them.
      Just ask one, every true slashdot user knows more about the law than anybody else in the legal community.

      Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, more importantly I am not your lawyer. This is not legal advise and should not be construed as such.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bobbied (2522392)

        Your lawyer? Any real slashdotter would represent himself all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States and change every other precedent set before them.

        Most maybe, but not all would do this. Maybe I'm not a "real" shashdotter, but I would NEVER recommend going to court as a litigant without competent legal advice. Trust me, I know from experience that it is NOT a good idea, even in traffic court.

        What's that saying... A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client. It's true and I'm not doing that again..

    • by Bogtha (906264)

      The First Amendment is not relevant here. The First Amendment restricts Congress from passing laws that restrict freedom of speech. It doesn't restrict people from making contracts to restrict freedom of speech. That happens all the time and is perfectly legal.

    • by romco (61131) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:22PM (#45438755) Homepage

      > dispute the credit reports

      Dispute it with kleargear.com first. Then dispute with the credit reporting agency. Use registered mail so you have proof.

      If they verify you owe them money sue them under the FDCPA in federal court for attempting to collect a debt that is not due. ($1000 per offence plus any legal costs)

      Let them try to prove a contract exists in federal court.

    • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:30PM (#45438867) Homepage Journal
      It's not so much that as it is fraud. Claiming someone's responsible for a clause they never actually agreed to, and billing them for it is fraud. Submitting that bill to a collections agency is fraud and harassment. There shouldn't be a lawsuit. The operator of that site should be arrested. And then there should be a lawsuit.
  • by Malenx (1453851) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:24PM (#45437097)

    streisand effect ... Streisand Effect ... STREISAND EFFECT... HOOOO!!!

  • by themushroom (197365) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:24PM (#45437103) Homepage

    Which is the whole reason why there's a bad review. Seems Kleargear would want to fix that transaction before spending buttloads on dubious litigation, and win the customer back. But they'll discover how both the Internet AND retail business works soon.

    • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:38PM (#45437297)

      Indeed. The sale was never completed.

      "In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees."

      If there was never a completed sale, then do the sale terms even apply even if they hadn't of changed them later?

      If the glove wasn't bought, she owes them... not?

  • Give them a call! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:27PM (#45437151)

    You can also reach us by phone or snail mail at:

      You should give them a call, let them know what you think.
    KLEARGEAR.COM
    2885 Sanford Ave SW Suite #19886
    Grandville, MI 49418
    Se Habla Español
    Phone (866) 598-4296

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:32PM (#45437213)
    "Slashdot Submitter sabri Facing $3,500 Fine"

    After submitting an article in which kleargear.com was referred to as "some sort of cheap ThinkGeek clone", Slashdot user sabri will be facing several thousand dollars in fines. The stupid asses at kleargear.com don't seem to realize that this sort of thing only gets them bad press. [Editors note: The remainder of this comment has been removed as kleargear.com is threatening Dice Holdings if defamation of their good name continues on our properties.]

  • by MonkeyPaw (8286) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:33PM (#45437235) Homepage

    Recently I purchased several items from KlearGear.com. Based on their purchase agreement, I can not post negative comments on the Internet about my experience. With that in mind, here is my KlearGear.com review;

    " --- "

    Thank you,

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:20PM (#45437953) Journal

      Oh, I'm sure you can do better than that.

      I recently purchased several items from KlearGear.com. Their purchase agreement prohibits negative comments, so here is my review:

      The can of SPAM® was greatly appreciated. It makes a much better doorstop than the one I ordered, because the metal shards really dig into the rug. Even better, unlike the boxes of SPAM® you buy at the grocery store, this one came with a large hole in the side, so I didn't even have to find a can opener before sucking out the meaty goodness.

      The packaging was in impeccable condition, having only been run over by three UPS trucks—a far cry from the usual twelve. And their customer service can't be beaten. I only had to call 150 times over the course of a three month period to reach someone who helpfully pointed out that I could step on the can of SPAM® I received and use it as a doorstop. And the agents' language was truly amazing. I learned over a hundred new swear words in five languages.

      In short, I cannot recommend this business more highly if you enjoy surprise delivery of products that do not resemble what you ordered and learning how to say f*** off in Swahili while talking to a customer service representative in Tanzania. I know I sure do.

      No one can claim that this is a negative review. :-D

  • by loonycyborg (1262242) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:36PM (#45437269)
    If it were in any way legal or enforceable it would be in ToS everywhere.
  • CFPB (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nick (109) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:40PM (#45437315) Homepage Journal
    She needs to go to http://cfpb.gov/ [cfpb.gov] right away and report this. It'll come off her credit reports ~30 days or so later. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was setup for exactly this kind of thing.
    • Re:CFPB (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:34PM (#45438143)
      Actually, the CFPD was set up to ensure that big banks will get bailed out the next time they make a high risk gamble with other people's money and it goes bad. However, they had to give is a name that made people think it was about protecting the little guy
  • Just hold on now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jiro (131519) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:41PM (#45437335)

    If everything is as described, sure, the woman has been mistreated. But on the other hand, she's using Ripoff Report. Slashdot has done an article about a case involving Ripoff Report before, and they themselves absolutely refuse to remove even false information, and then charge people money to dispute it. It's at least as bad as the company she's fighting.

    Look it up. Here, I'll help you. Read the very links described here: "She contacted Ripoffreport.com to ask that the post be removed but Ripoffreport.com won't let her without paying $2000 she says."

    Or go read some of the comments in the earlier article describing how Ripoff Report behaves. http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/12/29/1929228/court-rules-website-doesnt-have-to-remove-defamatory-comments [slashdot.org]

  • by dmomo (256005) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:44PM (#45437381) Homepage

    The Streisand Effect is not a rule. It's a rarity. For every story that gets attention this way, there are millions that do not.

    When I see a post on Slashdot about censorship backfiring, without fail, someone will blurt out "Streisand Effect" as if it is an inevitable thing that happens when censorship occurs on the Internet.

    The trouble here is that assuming this is a rule and not a rare edge case brings with it the danger of promoting the idea that censorship is not able to occur on the Internet. ...as if it is inherently censor-proof. The sad thing is, censorship is very real. The stories that allow us to cry "ha ha Streisand Effect" are the exception. They are interesting and attention worthy, or simply lucky.

    I'm glad when the effect occurs, but don't kid yourself.

  • by wwalker (159341) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:55PM (#45437581) Journal

    While I have absolutely no sympathy for all the hate that the keangear asshats will get from this, I just wish that ripoffreport.com would get their share of it. Did you know that if you pay them money, they will happily turn all the negative reports about your business into positive? They call it "Corporate Advocacy Program", but the real name of it should be "blackmail and extortion". Absolutely anyone can post anything about any business, be it true or a complete lie, and the business owner has absolutely no way for defending themselves. Except if you pay ripoffreport.com a few hundred bucks and then all negative reports go away. And they even claim that they will help place the newly positive reviews "at the top of search engines", whatever the hell that means. See, they do it to benefit the consumer and to assure the complete satisfaction, and not at all to blackmail small businesses and extort money from them:
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/CorporateAdvocacyProgram/Change-Report-From-Negative-To-Positive.aspx [ripoffreport.com]

  • by Spiked_Three (626260) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:18PM (#45437931)
    Do you realize that credit reporting agencies are 'regulated' and that means absolutely nothing?

    All that smoke and mirrors they put out about checking your credit report, and fixing errors, doesn't really happen. It is there ONLY so the consumer thinks credit reporting is fair. The fact is the credit reporting agency 1) makes more money from you 2) ignores your request to fix items. Why should they care? You CAN NOT sue them. Bet you didn't know that did you? Only a state's attorney Generals can sue a credit reporting agency. That is part of the deal they got to support fair credit laws in the first place. Like just about everything else in this country lately, they had a huge lobbying effort to exclude themselves from lawsuits, took all your representatives to steak and lobster dinner, and called it something that sounded like it was made to protect the consumer. IT IS NOT!

    If you go through the trouble of writing them to correct something, they just send you a generic letter; "We do not understand your request." Since you can not sue, that is the end of it.

    So the root of this problem is both the slimey business, but as much the slimey credit reporting agencies that make it a viable business model. Experian will even sell social securrity numbers to crooks now to make money;

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/10/25/experian_data_broker_social_security_numbers_sold_to_identity_thieves.html [slate.com]
    • by ageoffri (723674) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:12PM (#45438643)
      Pretty much everything you stated is wrong. You can sue all three of the consumer credit reporting agencies in small claims court assuming you followed the processes outlined in the federal laws for consumer protection.

      http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/special/19990820.asp

      Check out creditboards.com and the ficoforums.myfico.com and you will find multiple success stories of people suing one or more of the CRA's.

      I can also say that from personal experience that merely making the threat to the CRA that you will be suing them in small claims court with proper citations will cause the CRA to fix their errors.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:35PM (#45438153)
    Only the government can punish people. Civil courts strike down punitive (punishing) clauses in contracts. In court, it would be unenforceable. Also violates her 1st Amendment rights. kleargear's case has humiliating fail written all over it.
  • by MysteriousPreacher (702266) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:38PM (#45439443) Journal

    Editors, would you exercise some kind of fucking diligence here?

    Ripoffreport is a random soundboard for anything. For example: a search for the word "meth":

    Jenny muniz Jenevieve muniz Crystal meth addict. thief. con. burnt down her mothers house. las vegas Nevada

    Apple Unlimited owned by Dave Apple Manipulative crystal meth addict sexually harasses employees and takes advantage of employees...and gets away with it Virginia Beach Virginia

    FRANKIE LEE DEAVER DEAVER, FRANKIE LEE SCAM ARTIST !!! METH HEAD !!!! ADDICT !!!! CHRONIC JAILBIRD !!!! ANDERSON Missouri

    Follow the link to kutv. It mentions Ripoffreport asking a 2000 dollar fee to remove her feedback? An important point missing from the summary. Is this true? If so, why is this mentioned but not mentioned in Techdirt's article or otherwise followed up?

    Isn't there a legitimate mechanism to be used when Kleargear, a company that tries too hard to be geeky, is alleged to lie to credit agencies? Kleargear seems to be a bit iffy. They plaster their site in "verified by x" badges. Buysafe? What the fuck is that? I don't know, but for some reason I'm reassured that this hitherto unknown company guarantees this site is inspected and monitored. They have a TRUSTe seal! Wow, they've promised to abide by security policies that'll most likely never be inspected. TRUSTe means fuck all positive. Oh, but wait. They carry a badge from inc.com! Meh, it's the LinkedIn of companies. I'm a professor at MIT, and I have a 14" dick. If you believe that then TRUSTe probably means something to you.

    tl;dr: Kleargear is at best a company that protests far too much. Ripoffreport is as good a source of information as YouTube comments. Slashdot editors don't bother following any links,and Slashdot is somewhere between The Weekly World News and Heat magazine.

  • by Holi (250190) on Friday November 15, 2013 @11:11PM (#45440785)

    How do you report someone to the credit bureaus without a ssn?
    Did they open a line of credit with this website? Otherwise how did they get this lady's ssn?

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