Customer Fined $3.5K for Writing Negative Review

Kleargear says it was in her terms of sale

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 14, 2013 11:09 AM CST

(Newser) – A Utah woman is facing a massive fine for having the temerity to tell the Internet about a lousy shopping experience. Jen Palmer's husband bought some items for her from Kleargear.com back in 2008. The items never arrived, Paypal canceled the transaction, and Palmer wrote a scathing review on Ripoffreport.com. All seemed right with the world … until three years later, when Kleargear sent her an ultimatum demanding she remove the post, or pay a $3,500 fine, she tells KUTV. "This is fraud," she says. "They're blackmailing us for telling the truth."

Kleargear says a clause in its terms of sale forbids customers from "taking any action that negatively impacts kleargear.com" or its reputation, and allows Kleargear to, "at its sole discretion" fine violators $3,500. Palmer, terrified, tried to remove the review—but Ripoffreport refused to take it down unless she paid them $2,000. When she didn't pay, Kleargear reported her to credit bureaus, and they haven't been able to get that ding removed. It's unclear if the terms of sale were even in force back in 2008—archives don't show them then—and Techdirt observes that, in the wake of KUTV's report, they've completely disappeared from Kleargear's site.

  (Shutterstock)
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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. - Jeff Hunt, First Amendment attorney

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