December 26th, 2013
08:17 AM ET

Couple Sues Company After They're Fined $3,500 for Review

A Utah couple who was fined $3,500 for writing a negative review of Kleargear.com is now suing the merchant for retaliating against them, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday on the couple's behalf by Public Citizen.

Their story - first reported by CNN's affiliate in Salt Lake City KUTV– started in 2008 when John Palmer bought his wife's Christmas gifts off KlearGear.com. The items never arrived and the Palmers said the transaction was automatically canceled, CNN’s Pamela Brown reports.

After repeated calls to KlearGear.com to find out what happened, Jen Palmer posted a review of the company on RipoffRreport.com saying in part,"There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being. No extensions work."

More than three years later, the Palmers received an e-mail appearing to be from KlearGear.com stating that they would be fined $3,500 if the negative review posted on RipoffReport.com wasn't taken down within 72 hours.

"It's ridiculous that anyone would turn around and try to extort us like this, especially for doing something as simple as posting a review online," Jen Palmer says.

“But the Palmers apparently signed away that freedom when they agreed to Kleargear.com's non -disparagement clause forbidding them from taking any action that negatively impacts Kleargear.com,” Brown says.

The Palmers tried to take the review down but couldn't and Kleargear apparently reported the $3,500 bill as unpaid to a collections company. Attempts to settle this amicably turned up empty as the couple never heard back from the company.

According to the Palmer's, the company left them with no choice but to file a lawsuit.

“They are asking the court to declare they never owed the $3500 and are seeking compensation to be determined by a jury,” Brown says.

CNN repeatedly tried reaching out to Kleargear's phone number and email on its website but did not hear back.

Kleargear.com did respond via email back in November to CNN affiliate, KUTV,  defending its actions saying, the request for the Palmers to take down their comment was not blackmail, but  “a  diligent effort to help them avoid the fine.”

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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. DontputupwBS

    Kleargear should have just let it slide. Now the negative publicity for their company will hurt them much more than the negative review. Should have made an addendum after profusely apologizing to the couple. I will never buy from that company and our family loves those sort of gadgets etc.

    December 27, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  2. Jeff

    Just a detail. According to the complaint, there was no non -disparagement clause when they attempted this purchase.

    see http://www.citizen.org/documents/Palmer-Demand-Letter.pdf for more facts.

    December 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  3. Tim

    Whoa, lesson learned, steer clear of Kleargear.

    December 27, 2013 at 1:47 am | Reply
  4. bcalvinf

    This is extremely unfair that a company would sue a family like this for $3,500 after not fulfilling their part of the deal and then giving unresponsive customer service. This company should be boycotted for their aggressive actions. Vote with your pocketbook until the egomaniacs responsible are served justice. If they come messing with me for posting this review, I will pull out every stop to make them sorry...You are not more important than the individuals who buy your products. Without us, you are nothing...

    December 26, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  5. sam

    I hope the Palmers win big in court. Companies like Kleargear deserve all the bad publicity that is coming to them. If you are going to be in retail then bloody answer the phone !

    December 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  6. Richard

    Why hasn't anyone gone to the WayBack machine to check out their website back in 2008? I tit and found no clause mentioning anything like that back then.

    December 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  7. Jeff

    Don't put me on the jury. These people would own kleargear by the time I was done. Who the hell do you think you are?

    December 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  8. Jack33

    After reading this, guess which company will *NEVER* get the business of me & every last person I know? This company needs to be put down HARD.

    December 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  9. peter perreira

    I don't have a non disparagement agreement with them.I could really speak my mind about this crappy company Kleargear right?

    December 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  10. The O

    Unfortunately, all they will do is rebrand themselves and do it again.

    December 26, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply
  11. Dave Isaacs

    this issue here is not kleargear, the extortionist is ripoffreport.com who has already been reported the DA. RipOff report will not let you take down your commet after rectified. RipOff Report is a scam system so even if you resove your issues ripoffreport will not take down the negative reputation affect on the company in question. On The web it is rarely people will post a positive review, but once they have one bad or late experience they will go to ripoffreport and write it up unknowingly that ripoffreport is a scam and charges the to arbitrate the situations for thousands of dollars. Do yourself a favor, if you want a resolution go to the authorized source the BBB, not Ripoffreport or resellerratings, those two sites are both scams created to extort the seller.

    December 26, 2013 at 11:10 am | Reply

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