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

sabri writes "Jen Palmer tried to order something from, some sort of cheap ThinkGeek clone. The merchandise never arrived and she wrote a review on Now, 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'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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  • 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 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 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 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 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 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.
  • 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, 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?

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> 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.


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

    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. 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 Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:51PM (#45437511) Journal

    Keep your cat indoors. Problem solved. It's more humane for the cat (indoor cats live longer in general), better for the neighborhood wildlife, and makes it impossible for your cat to suffer traumatic injury from automobiles, dogs, etc. The cat may not like it as much, but there's a reason why you're the owner of the animal.

    And yes, I am a cat owner. Rescued one of the neighborhood strays. She still wants to go outside, but it's not happening. Her quality of life is higher and I don't have to worry about her never coming home for reasons forever unknown.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:08PM (#45437773) Journal

    Stopping my cat from assisting in the destruction of the local ecosystem is selfish? Keeping her away from traffic, aggressive dogs, and asshole humans is selfish? Preventing her from getting fleas and ticks is selfish?

    Every cat owner I know who lets their cats go outside has lost at least one of them. The shitty part is they almost never find out why. Did the cat get run over? Did it become a meal for a larger animal? Was it taken in by the crazy cat lady down the street?

    A cat's natural instinct is to kill as many small animals as possible while producing as many kittens as she can. We stop them from satisfying these urges all the time and I've never heard it called inhumane. I think the medical care, limitless supply of food, and shelter she doesn't have to compete for is a good trade off, from her point of view, particularly given the alternatives. There's a reason why cats domesticated themselves....

  • by Joining Yet Again ( 2992179 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:16PM (#45437879)

    Except for the cat two days ago who was blinded in one eye by a BB gun.

    There is a very simple rule which I have been taught from a young age to apply to all guns (my school had a cadet force, so lots of people were trained in firearms before adulthood): if you're not okay with killing it, don't shoot at it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:40PM (#45438229)
    I thought it was funny especially because ThinkGeek seems to do little more than buy stuff from DealExtreme, mark it up a lot, then try to resell it to the gullible.
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:56PM (#45438451)

    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 Karzz1 ( 306015 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:08PM (#45438597) Homepage
    She let a rabbit *starve* to death. Think about that for a minute. You don't "accidentally forget" to feed an animal in your care for days on end. That is animal abuse plain and simple and would also fall into the category of torture. Both of these are (low-level) felonies in all states to the best of my knowledge.

    To be honest, both of these people sound like the dregs of society and not anyone I would want to admit associating with.
  • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:20PM (#45438743) Homepage

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

    What's so great about ThinkGeek anyway? When it comes down to it, they're basically just a seller of novelty gadgets and boys toys with a geek-oriented marketing angle.

    I've ranted about them previously [], but to tl;dr that, the problem is that in (rather successfully) using this angle to sell their gimmicks, they presented and promoted a relentlessly consumerist view of what it is to be a geek... both by exploting the need to identify and belong (show how much of a proud geek and/or fan of this geek-popular TV show you are by owning this gizmo!) and by flattery (owning this stuff shows that you're clever!).

  • 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.
  • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SCPRedMage ( 838040 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:09PM (#45439231)

    It's only "unenforceable" from a legal standpoint, but before it ever even sees a courtroom, it's already intimidated enough people to raise the company's BBB rating from an F to a B, and ruined other people's credit; the couple from TFA have been turned down for loans due to the credit hit they've taken because these guys sent that $3500 "penalty" to collections.

    Why pay court costs for a judge to enforce your schemes when you can get the credit bureaus to do it for free?

  • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by almitydave ( 2452422 ) on Friday November 15, 2013 @07:35PM (#45439425)

    Well then it seems the couple has suffered real financial harm. Hopefully they can quantify this and collect damages. I hate the sue-happy culture of the US these days, but this case demonstrates exactly what lawsuits are for.

    There's no way the company can claim ignorance due to the facts:
    -The transaction was never completed, so the contract didn't apply
    -The contract at the time (that didn't apply anyway) didn't include the clause about reviews
    -The person attempting to purchase the item, and who would have been bound by the contract (but wasn't) wasn't the person who wrote the review

    These are all facts that were plain at the time of the company's action; so in other words, they knowingly filed a false credit claim based on a non-existent clause in a contract that didn't apply to someone with whom they didn't do business anyway.

    Our prisons are already full, so I think the appropriate penalty would be massive fines against the company, and all legal and executive personnel involved in this action, and if that can't be accurately determined, all legal and executive personnel.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"