Apparently, KlearGear.com refuses to amicably resolve a dispute with a couple who wrote a bad review, and now that legal case has ballooned into a $300,000 judgement against the company.
The Consumerist is reporting that a Utah court has ordered the owners of KlearGear.com to pay damages of $306,750 to the couple who wrote that review. But it is uncertain if the company will ever pay up. Moreover, the dispute could escalate further.
The harmless negative online review initially resulted in a $3,500 “Non-Disparagement Fee” imposed by KlearGear against the couple.
Jen Palmer posted a critical review about KlearGear.com on RipoffReport.com after her husband never received two gifts he ordered for her. The review prompted Kleargear.com to notify the couple in 2012 that they had 72 hours to remove the negative review, or pay $3,500 because it violated the non-disparagement clause.
The company claims that this fee is disclosed in its Terms of Sale that must be agreed to before making a purchase. The couple says it was not in the terms when they placed their order — which, again, never arrived.
KlearGear didn’t stop pursuing the matter. The company turned the couple’s alleged debt of $3,500 over to a collections agency, which reported the $3,500 to the credit bureaus. That, of course, resulted in damage to the couple’s credit score.
Represented by advocacy group Public Citizen, the couple sued KlearGear in a Utah court. KlearGear never responded to the complaint and in May, the court issued a default judgement against the company.
Descoteaux Boutiques SARL, the parent company of Kleargear.com, issued a statement last month saying John and Jen Palmer of Layton were aware of the company’s “non-disparagement clause” in its sales contracts with customers. The Consumerist reports that the parent company refuses to acknowledge the lawsuit because it never received any notice of the suit.
The Consumerist writes: The KlearGear site listed a Grandville, MI, address (and shows a photo of a building at that address) for its “Legal Department,” the parent company claims it has no presence in the U.S. and the court documents should not have been sent to that address.
“The non-disparagement agreements are not new among employees, partners and customers across the globe,” Kleargear.com spokesman Vic Mathieu said in a statement. “Our sales contract is enforceable under the laws of the United States because business transactions are exempt from First Amendment rights. … If a customer disagrees with any merchant of policies, they are free to shop elsewhere.”
Yes, consumers certainly have the right NOT to shop at KlearGear.com.