Let us take you back to the halcyon days of 2008. Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the Olympic Games. The Dark Knight was king of the movie box office. Miley Cyrus still looked like this:
Something else also happened: Jen Palmer left a negative review of KlearGear.com on the website RipoffReport.com when she never received an order she had placed. Now, almost five years later, she’s still being asked to pay a fine by KlearGear.com for a whopping $3,500. Why? Let’s start at the beginning.
As KUTV 2 News reports , Jen claims that in 2008, after she had ordered a “number of trinkets,” from KlearGear she waited 30 days but never got the ordered items and PayPal canceled the payment. After attempts to speak with someone at the company failed, she took to RipoffReport.com, complaining “there is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being," and that they have "horrible customer service practices."
Cut to 2010. KlearGear emailed, maintaining Jen violated a non-disparagement clause hidden within the terms of sale:
"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."
They said that Jen had 72 hours to remove the post, or face a $3,500 fine. And if they didn’t get their money, they would report them to a credit bureau, which in turn would damage their credit rating.
Nervous over the fine, Jen tried to comply. She went to RipoffReport.com and asked them to remove the post. In a sad bit of poetic irony, they told her that they wouldn’t do it without receiving $2,000 themselves. It was then that the Palmers decided to fight the $3,500 fine with the credit bureaus. However, KlearGear.com insists it’s valid and so now the Palmers are being denied loans for a new car and house repairs. Jen is furious, telling KUTV, “This is fraud. They’re blackmailing us for telling the truth.” Now in 2013, she’s reaching out to the media for help.
KUTV’s investigative segment, Get Gephardt, found that Jen isn’t the only person who has had problems with KlearGear.com and found other peoplehave posted bad reviews on Ripoff Report and other similar websites. They spoke with attorney Jeff Hunt, an expert on First Amendment matters. He seemed surprised by this, telling them:
"I think this is outrageous that a company like this would force a consumer to relinquish their first amendment rights to speak about their product as a condition of sale. I've never seen anything like it…I have a serious question about whether a court would enforce that kind of covenant because it's massively over broad and against public policy.”
Get Gephardt tried calling KlearGear.com, but like Jen, wasn’t able to speak with someone on the phone. Through email, an unidentified employee wrote them saying it wasn’t blackmail, but rather, “a diligent effort to help them avoid [the fine].” Ok.
Jen and her husband say that can’t afford an attorney, but are still fighting the black spot on their credit report. In the meantime, they’re warning others about KlearGear’s sneaky terms of sale.
More info: KUTV