KlearGear Meet Streisand. Company Feeling Heat For Overreacting to Bad Review

John and Jen Palmer of Layton had a bad experience with an online retailer named KlearGear.com. His wife wrote a negative review on the consumer review site ripoffreport.com. KlearGear sent them a letter stating their Terms Of Service has a non-disparaging clause that forbids any customer from writing a negative review and informed the couple they owed the company $3500 and sent credit reporting agencies a report of non-payment.

Non-Disparagement Clause

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.

Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.

I talked to John Palmer on Facebook and he said I could share some of his remarks and clarify one thing that has been in the news. It has been reported in the news that rippoffReport.com offered to remove the negative review for a $2000. He said that ripoffreport.com does not remove reports for money but will offer mediation services for a fee and will redact any libel or untrue statements, but will never pull a report down.

The Palmers could not afford a lawyer to fight back so they used the best weapon in any arsenal and that is the court of public opinion. They contacted Get Gepheart of KUTV to publicize the story. The story has now gone viral around the country and KlearGear.com has circled the wagons and are clearly in serious trouble. The publicity has brought the story to the attention of  pro-bono lawyers that are now defending them.

Mr. Palmer says he has been following the story on the Internet and has watched it quickly evolve into a national story.  The story has exploded on social media and is being widely reported in local and national news outlets  including tech blogs, Techdirt and Techcrunch. They are now getting request for media interviews including the Today Show which they are in discussions with their producers.

KlearGear.com faces the full wrath of the Streisand Effect which is a phenomenon that occurs when an attempt is made to censor or silence causes wide-spread attention that normally few would have  been exposed to  otherwise. This negative report would have had negligible impact on KlearGear’s bottom line but by inserting such outrageous language in their Terms of Service, demanding payment, and damaging the Palmer’s credit the company has shown themselves to be nothing but corporate bullies and validates any negative review given to it.

The Palmers hope by shining light on this fiasco that other companies will think twice about inserting clauses in their Terms of Service that violate free speech by attempting to silence critics and try to mask service failures.

We have seen far too many examples of companies using bully tactics to silence people.  KlearGear.com would be smart to pull out their checkbook and write the Palmer’s a big check and make a pubic apology and never engage in things like this again. It may be too late for them but hopefully other companies will see the folly in KlearGear’s actions and this trend of corporate bullying will come to an end.

Read: http://kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_8079.shtml
http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/18/kleargear-goes-into-social-media-lockdown-after-it-charges-customers-for-posting-bad-reviews/

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  1. #1 by Nathan Erkkila on November 21, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    I thought that reviews and criticism were protected under free speech.

  2. #2 by Ken Bingham on November 21, 2013 - 6:17 pm

    Nathan they are. No court would honor this clause. Many companies routinely put in clauses they know will never stand up in court but do it to bully consumers into submission. They know fighting these things in court is too expensive for most people. It takes massive publicity to shine the light on theses abuses to get action on them.

  3. #3 by Ken Bingham on November 21, 2013 - 6:18 pm

    The part that may get KlearGear into some real legal hot water and possibly even criminal is the report they sent to credit reporting agencies.

  4. #4 by Ken Bingham on November 22, 2013 - 8:28 am

    This may be only the beginning to KlearGear’s problems. It looks like they faked TRUSTe and BBB certifications on their site. Both are investigating them now for fraudulent use of their certification badges and Experian is investigating them for a false credit report.

    http://www.popehat.com/2013/11/18/why-does-kleargear-say-it-is-truste-validated-when-it-isnt/

  5. #5 by Ace on November 22, 2013 - 7:34 pm

    There is NOTHING legitimate about Kleargear or Mr. William Franklin Bermender.

    http://neer-do-well-hall-of-infamey.blogspot.ca/

  6. #6 by Ken Bingham on November 23, 2013 - 1:59 am

    it is looking like this entire operation is nothing more than a shake-down outfit. Like copyright and patent trolls they exploit failures in our system to extort money and do it in the color of law.

  7. #7 by Larry Bergan on November 26, 2013 - 6:07 pm

    I’m not exactly clear on what the ” Streisand Effect” is, but this is outrageous. Nobody ever takes the time to read Terms of Service agreements.

  8. #8 by Ken Bingham on November 27, 2013 - 1:05 am

    Larry, the “Streisand Effect” has its origins when an organization took a series of photos to document the California coast line. One in thousands of images happened to contain Barbara Streisand’s Malibu Beach home. She threatened to sue the organization and have the image removed. As a result the image went viral on the Internet when before the compliant only a small handful of people had seen that image thus the Streisand Effect was born.

    It occurs when attempts to censor or suppress ends up widely publicizing the information when few would have been exposed to it otherwise.

    The Kleargear case is classic Streisand Effect . Their anti-disparagement clause and their attempt to assert it is now being reported world wide. Millions are hearing about it when only a few ever would have read that negative review if Kleargear hadn’t of tried to suppress it.

  9. #9 by Luis on February 12, 2014 - 7:00 pm

    It appears they are standing by their T&C’s, they were taken down but are back up. http://www.kleargear.com/termsofuse1.html

    They must know how bad they are. I am glad the word is getting out, I was ripped off by them once and hope others learn to avoid them.

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