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A bad review results with a fine
A couple in Salt Lake City is facing a nightmare situation after doing what many us of do during the Holidays, shop online.
They posted a negative review about a website. Then they received a hefty fine and a hit on their credit score.
John Palmer bought a few Christmas gifts for his wife Jen on the website kleargear.com in 2008. Never imagining he'd still be paying the price five years later.
The Palmers say the items they ordered never arrived, the transaction was cancelled.
"After thirty days paypal said hey, there's no activity here. And they turned around and gave the money back into my husband's account and effectively cancelled the sale."
After repeated calls to Klear Gear to find out what happened, Jen Palmer posted this review of the company on http://ripoffreport.Com.
Saying in part "there is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being. No extensions work."
Fast forward three and half years, the Palmers received this email appearing to be from Klear Gear stating they'd be fined 35 hundred dollars if the negative review wasn't taken down in 72 hours.
"We were shocked that someone would attempt to do this, because it's ridiculous that anyone would turn around and try to extort us like this.
Legal experts warn, more and more companies are adding this type of language in the fine print as protection.
The 1st amendment does not protect certain kinds of free speech and you can sign a contract giving away your free speech rights if it's a fair contract.
This contract though is not fair, and frankly it would be thrown out by any court.
We found other examples of non-disparagement clauses in customer agreements- including this one from a Vacation Rental Company threatening to charge customers up to 10 thousand dollars if a post containing "unreasonable negative sentiment" isn't removed. The company told CNN it stands by its practice.
The Palmers tried to take down their review, but couldn't. Klear Gear apparently then reported the bill as unpaid to a collections company.
"It was bad enough that when we went to get a second car, it took them a month to find a bank that was willing to finance us.
Because of the huge ding that this puts on our credit.
CNN tried multiple phone numbers listed on Klear Gears website. All of them were disconnected. Http://kleargear.Com did respond via email to our affiliate KUTV. Klear Gear defended it's actions saying its request for the Palmers to take down the comment was not blackmail but, quote "a diligent effort to help them avoid the fine."
The Palmer's say they're taking their fight to court.
"We don't want them to get away with this. We are apparently not the only ones that they have done this to but we are the only ones who are fighting back. And we're not giving up."