If you still have any doubt as to whether the sentiment that the customer is always right is dead, wonder no more, because it is — even when the customer isn’t really a customer, because the seller never bothered to deliver the goods.
In 2008, John Palmer ordered some merchandise from online retailer KlearGear.com as Christmas gifts for his wife, Jen. When the merchandise hadn’t arrived 30 days later, PayPal cancelled the transaction and returned the funds to his account.
The Palmers posted a negative review of the company on the consumer complaint site Ripoff Review, relating their experience with the company, and telling how they never received their order, had been unable to contact anyone at the company by phone and hadn’t received a response to emails.
That was five years ago. Fast forward to the present, and suddenly John receives an email from KlearGear informing him that he has 72 hours to remove the negative comment or he will be “fined” $3,500. They claimed that the contract “signed” at the time the order was placed contained a nondisparagement clause barring them from making any negative comments about their experience with the company.
Ripoff Review requested a $2,000 fee to take the review down. The Palmers refused, but also refused to pay KlearGear’s extortionate fines.
KlearGear reported the Palmers to all three credit reporting agencies as having failed to pay their bill. This has created problems for them in obtaining credit – they had to try several banks before being able to finance a new car.
Consumer advocates say that nondisparagement clauses are becoming more prevalent and are legal, though there is some question as to whether the clause was actually in the KlearGear contract when John placed his order; in any case, it was so restrictive that no court would ever uphold it. Of course, KlearGear had also breached the contract themselves by failing to deliver the goods as promised.
The Palmers are willing to go to court to escape the fine, but in the meantime, their credit remains damaged and KlearGear is still doing business.
Watch the report from CNN:
h/t: Raw Story