A bizarre story out of Texas, where a couple was charged $3,500 and had their credit scores ruined by an online retail company, all because of a bad review.
"Way back in 2008, Jen Palmer's husband ordered her a number of trinkets from the website KlearGear.com. … For 30 days KlearGear.com never sent the products, so the transaction was automatically cancelled by PayPal." (Via KUTV)
She tried calling the company but never got through, so she took to the website Ripoff Report to vent her frustrations, saying the company had "incompetent customer service" and "there is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being."
Three years later, her husband received an email from KlearGear claiming he owed the company thousands of dollars as a result of the complaint on Ripoff Report. Apparently KlearGear's terms of service contained a clause restricting customers' ability to post negative reviews.
It's now been taken down, but it read, "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." The company then threatened the couple with the $3,500 fee if they didn't retract their review.
So the Palmers contacted Ripoff Report to have the complaint removed but were told the site wouldn't take it down unless, get this, the couple paid a separate $2,000 fine. (Via Business Insider)
The Palmers passed on that. And now, thanks to the outstanding debt to KlearGear, the couple says their credit scores are so bad they can't get a loan for a new car or to fix their home's furnace. Oh, and they can't afford an attorney to clean up the mess. (Via Daily Mail)
At the time of the incident back in 2010, KlearGear had an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau. Although it now has a “B,” Ripoff Report still has KlearGear complaints posted. No word on if there are any cases similar to the one involving the Palmers.
The couple is now working with a separate credit company to try to have the fine expunged.