Couple Fined By Online Retailer Five Years After Negative Review Fights Back
It's really kind of unthinkable. You order a product online. The product never arrives. You write a less-than-favorable review and carry on. Five years later, the company (whom you've long forgotten because you chose never to make use of their "services" again) says you owe thousands of dollars in penalties because of that negative review. $3,500 to be exact.
Naturally, you refuse to pay. So, the company reports this "debt" to credit bureaus, adversely impacting your credit so badly that you can't even get a loan to buy a new furnace when yours dies at the most inopportune time. So, you live in the cold for weeks.
That's exactly what happened to a couple in Utah.
Regardless of the company's justification for the fine (which is "bonk" as my mother would say), they did themselves exponentially more damage than the negative review, which, by the way, is all over a product that cost less than $20. After hearing their story on the local news, a public defender has decided to fight on their behalf, but he's not just looking for the fine to be dropped. The attorney says the unconscionable (and unfounded) actions by this online retailer are representative of many online retailers' practice of incorporating a "non-disparagement" clause into the fine print of a transaction. He wants $75,000 in damages and he wants the company to remove the clause.
Regardless of how this case pans out in court, the greater damage is already done for the online retailer, as this story has now gone national. Best. Negative. Review. Ever.