A Utah woman is facing a $3,500 fine and a ding to her credit after posting a negative review of a business online.
Jen Palmer’s husband ordered products from kleargear.com in 2008, but PayPal canceled the transaction when the company didn’t fulfill the order within 30 days.
Palmer said her husband tried to call the company about why the order was never shipped, but couldn’t reach a customer service representative. She ended up leaving a negative review on ripoffreport.com.
“(Our) first mistake was attempting to call them … you can’t do it,” the review read in part. “There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being.”
Palmer goes on to post an email she sent to the company and the reply she received. At one point, she tells the company, “At this point, the only thing I can determine is that your customer service department, in fact, your whole company, is so busy returning voicemails from disgruntled customers that they are inable to take live calls of any kind.”
Palmer told KUTV in Salt Lake City she thought posting the review was the end of the story, until three years later when her husband got an email from kleargear.com saying they had violated a non-disparagement clause they had signed at the time of purchase.
The clause was apparently hidden in the contract of sale, according to KUTV.
“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,” it said.
If the clause is violated, the consumer has 72 hours to remove the post in question or face a $3,500 fine, according to KUTV. If the fine is not paid, kleargear.com reports the customer to credit bureaus.
Palmer said when she received the email, she requested the post be removed from ripoffreport.com, but was told that would cost $2,000. Instead, the couple let the 72 hours lapse.
They said their credit has been affected by the report, and although they’ve disputed the report, the credit bureaus say the it will remain.
KUTV found that in 2010, the company received an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau for “not delivering products purchased online in a timely manner.” The TV station is putting the Palmers in touch with media relations at the nation’s credit bureaus in an effort to help them dispute the report because they can’t afford a lawyer.