KlearGear Charges Customer $3,500 for a Bad Online Review

A customer who didn't receive what she ordered from KlearGear wrote a negative review on a complaint site and was charged $3,500. KlearGear sells desk toys such as an LED shoelaces and something called a Splat Stan Coaster-a figure squashed by a coffee mug (not on my Christmas wish list).

Three years after the customer posted on the site RipoffReport, KlearGear contacted her husband and requested $3,500, based on a clause in the company's terms of service (which apparently wasn't included at the time): 

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.

The clause, of course, is ridiculous. Trying to control social media conversation is a fool's game and can only hurt a company in the long-run. KlearGear made the situation worse when it closed its Twitter and Facebook accounts.


Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of KlearGear's "Non-Disparagement Clause"? One writer calls it "contemptible, unethical, and un-American." Do those adjectives sum it up for you-or are others more appropriate?
  • How would you advise KlearGear to handle the social media situation?
  • Imagine that KlearGear reopened its Facebook page. Write an apology post on behalf of the company.