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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 Malenx (1453851) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:24PM (#45437097)

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

  • Re:Give them a call! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:34PM (#45437243)
    Don't bother with regular mail. it appears to be a mail forwarding facility: http://www.mailboxforwarding.com/form1583.php [mailboxforwarding.com]
  • Just hold on now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jiro (131519) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:41PM (#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 Spazmania (174582) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:42PM (#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 Spiked_Three (626260) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:18PM (#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]
  • Re:CFPB (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:34PM (#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
  • Re:Hint taken. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:36PM (#45438169)

    like hell it can't.

    since that kleargear fine hit our (actually, it was my husband's report, not mine) credit, we've been consistently denied for various financing... incluing trying to get our furance replaced when it died on us last month. we had to get a second car for my husband's new job, and it took them a month to find a bank willing to finance us all because of this bullshit charge on our credit.

  • Re:Just hold on now (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:39PM (#45438209)

    the difference here is that the information posted on the ripoffreport.com review was completely true. the emails were cut and paste verbatim.

    source: i'm the woman who broke the story.

  • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:46PM (#45438303) Journal

    Are you kidding? With the right lawyer (or DA, or even consumer protection agency), it's a great way for her to eviscerate kleargear.com for fraudulent practice.

    The stupid 'you can't say we ripped you off even if we do, nyah nyah' clause that kleargear.com chucked into their site is patently unenforceable. It's like my dumbassed last employer who tried to force everyone laid off to sign a 'non-disparagement' clause, holding their severence pay ransom unless they did. (one phone call to my own lawyer right there in the office stopped that BS cold.)

    By the way, it wouldn't take much to dispute the "fine" with the reporting agencies, either.

    As for the negative publicity? Is the old fuckedcompany.com still running? I don't feel much like tickling the company proxy here to find out...

  • Re:Hint taken. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lgw (121541) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:47PM (#45438311) Journal

    Making a false report to a credit agency runs into laws with real teeth. It's one of the few places where you're personally and criminally liable for how you do business, even if you work for a big corporation.

  • by romco (61131) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:22PM (#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 lgw (121541) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:31PM (#45438875) Journal

    A shotgun loaded with rocksalt can as easily kill one as it was loaded with lead.

    Not beyond about 3 feet, rocksalt isn't exactly aerodynamic (plus sine you have to load those yourself in the first place, it's not like you're going to use a full charge.

    So you did it? And you where lucky not to kill anyone? And now you are bragging about it?

    Did you miss the part about "where I grew up". Buddy of mind got shot - stings like a bitch. I got bit by dogs set on me. We both did a lot of running away.

    But those were different times - you'd walk out into the woods in the morning, and parents wouldn't care where you were till sunset (and no one wore pads to ride anything, though you could wear a particularly heavy coat while sledding and not be taken for a wimp needing a good beating).

  • by hey! (33014) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:35PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:50PM (#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.

  • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:44PM (#45439489) Journal

    Fuckedcompany seems to be down since 2007.

    But you are right, any lawyer could have a field day with them. Especially if the story summery is correct. If her husband purchased the gifts, then it would have been him not her that agreed to any EULA no matter how stupid it might have been. So by going after her, who hasn't even agreed to the terms, they are literally doing something fraudulent and possibly criminal to boot.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:52PM (#45440073) Journal

    I put the part in bold from his comment but it seems it was masked by the quote.

    "they're basically just a seller of novelty gadgets and boys toys with a geek-oriented marketing angle." is why.

    It was the first popular one stop shop for most of the cool and interesting crap I could waste my money on. They seemed to focus more on fun then necessity too. They came up with witty slogans and put them on everything and it is something that a lot of geeks either "just got" or wondered why it wasn't obvious to them once they figured it out.

    In short, the reason is because they are or were the Cabelas of the geek world even if their crap was cheaply made and overly priced.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Friday November 15, 2013 @08:07PM (#45440185) Homepage Journal
    The antisocial people are the ones who let their dogs roam wild. I've had two cats in my life that were killed by dogs. Both were in my yard. And I've observed other dogs (also off-leash) chase my cat through my yard. I was a kid for the first one, but on both other occasions I reminded the dog owner that they should consider themselves notified that I felt threatened by their pet, and that failure to follow the leash laws and control a dangerous animal was ample grounds for me to defend myself with deadly force. The second time a pet died, it was the neighbor's dogs who did it. They got out all the time, even menaced my wife in the garage (and she's a lifelong dog owner, knows how to handle them well). After I told her that the next time I saw them in my yard, I would return them in the same condition as my cat, they stopped getting out. That was over five years ago. Zero escapes since then. Amazing how that works.
  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @02:03AM (#45441545)

    Where I grew up, shooting a kid with a shotgun (loaded with rock salt) was considered an object lesson about property rights, and we'd have been shocked if anyone went to jail for it. How times have changed.

    I remember at 12-13 yo in the mid-'70s, the family lived for a time (father in civil service-transfers were fast-track grade advancement) in south-central MS near the eastern MS/western AL border. There was this old farmer that raised huge patches of watermelons and strawberries that all the kids knew would shoot at you with this old break-action double-barrel 12ga loaded with rock-salt shells (though he couldn't see at distance worth beans) if he spotted you in his fields (and sometimes actually grazed the occasional slow/careless kid with a piece or two, usually one kid a season).

    Everybody in the surrounding area knew this and him, including the police & sheriff. That was the way things had been for as long as many if not most who lived there could remember, even as they were kids.

    Nobody even thought to call the police. They'd have simply told you that "...you ought-not to be a-trespassin' on no private prop-perty. Ev'rbody know the ol' man'll light bee-hines wit rocksalt if'n he catches ya in is fields! Ya'll'll get hurt ya keep it up, an' if we gotsta carry ya'll to the horsepital, we'd be 'bliged to charge ya'll wit trespass." (there *were* signs).

    The old boy sat in a rocking chair on his porch and typically never even stood to shoot. The range was like anywhere from 60 to 100-plus yards. He also loaded these shells of his really light on powder charge. If you had on jeans all you'd get is a nice welt if you were closer.

    The only two times I remember any blood having been drawn or any skin penetration or other injury (other than self-inflicted) occurring was when the two kids in question didn't pay attention, had gotten far too close, and were wearing shorts. Only one small piece barely penetrated skin both times, though from the way they'd each screamed at the time, I'm sure it burned like hell.

    The first "strawberry-heart" medal-winner popped out the little salt fragment with his own thumbnails, wiped it hydrogen peroxide, stuck a band-aid on it, and carried on. Next season, the other medal-winner's piece of salt was so small it had dissolved before the kid had stopped running, and left but a single drop of blood, a welt, and a painful memory.

    I was always careful to stay at the edge of his range, kept real low, and never stayed long or ate/took very much on the occasions I was pressured to join in. We didn't hurt the old man's harvest. He had these huge fields, but a lot of what grew he never picked and it rotted in the fields.

    I do "distinctly* remember what the sound of rock salt sounds like whizzing around/past you from a 12ga, some making weird "ricochet"-type whining, moaning, or buzzing sounds, striking vegetation around you, etc.

    Nothing like it to get those legs really moving!

    It's downright motuh-VAY-shunul! :D

    CoD!?!? Bah! Back in *my* day, we went out unarmed and deliberately got shot at with *real* guns just for *fun*!!! :D

    Strat

He who has but four and spends five has no need for a wallet.

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