Online Retailer Fines Customer $3,500 For Negative Review

Online Retailer Fines Customer $3,500 For Negative Review

CNN : A couple in Salt Lake City is facing a nightmare situation after doing what many us of do during the holidays – shop online – They received a hefty fine and a hit on their credit score- all because they posted a negative review about a bad customer service experience with a website. Their story serves as a lesson for anyone who shops online.

John Palmer bought a few Christmas gifts for his wife Jen on the website in 2008, and he never imagined he’s still be paying the price for it 5 years later, CNN’s Pamela Brown reports. The Palmers say the items they ordered never arrived and the transaction was cancelled.

After repeated calls to to find out what happened, Jen Palmer posted a review of the company on 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 stating that they would be fined $3,500 if the negative review posted on wasn’t taken down in 72 hours.

The email cited an obscure, non-disparagement clause in the terms of use contract that states, “Your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively prohibits” A clause the Palmers say was added to the agreement after they made their purchase. Legal experts warn that more and more companies are adding this type of language in the fine print as protection.