Bad review couple win compensation
Online retailer KlearGear has been ordered to pay $306,750 (£180,000) to a couple it has had a long-running dispute with over a bad review.
Jennifer Palmer posted a review on RipOffReport.com criticising KlearGear customer service, after her husband ordered two items that never arrived.
KlearGear later asked her to remove the post and threatened a $3,500 fine.
The case was resolved in a default judgement after KlearGear failed to respond to the legal action.
The couple's lawyers told technology news site Ars Technica that collecting the money could prove problematic.
"Now we're going to be figuring out where KlearGear's assets are and how we can collect them," they said.
The row stretches back to December 2008 when John Palmer ordered two items, worth less than $20, as a gift for his wife.
The items did not arrive and after repeated calls to the company the couple were told that the items had never been paid for and had been cancelled.
In response Mrs Palmer posted a review claiming "there is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being" and describing KlearGear's "horrible customer service practices".
Three years later, Mr Palmer received an email demanding that the review be deleted within 72 hours or a fine of $3,500 would be levied as he was in violation of the firm's "non-disparagement clause".
Although the Palmers never sent the money, KlearGear attempted to get it via a debt collection service, which the couple allege damaged their credit rating.
Ars Technica, which has been following the case in detail, said that Descoteaux Boutiques, KlearGear's Paris-based parent firm had contacted it.
Emails from Vic Mathieu director of corporate communications claimed that Mr Palmer had been "belligerent towards our customer care staff and threatened to defame KlearGear if he did not receive free merchandise".
Partner at law firm Harbottle and Lewis, Andy Millmore said that it was a partial victory for common sense.
"I should be able to say something fair and reasonable about a firm I have bought goods from," he said.
"It shouldn't have taken three or four years at massive legal cost to reach that conclusion."