Comments about ‘French company to fight ruling, wants Utah couple to pay for critical online review’

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Published: Tuesday, May 27 2014 2:04 a.m. MDT

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Portland, OR

What a joke. Thank's for the information. I'll never do business with this company.

Burley, ID

All non-disparagement sales contract agreements need to be declared null and void.

Freedom of speech must not be curtailed by "fine print" whose sole purpose is to keep people from complaining about how a company treats them on a public forum. Honest, upstanding businesses have no need to resort to such despicable tactics.

Sunnyvale, CA

Take-away is: avoid French retailers.

Tooele, UT

Are you kidding me?

I have worked in the hotel business for many years and whether the Einsteins who run this French company realize it or not, negative feedback is actually a good thing. It allows businesses to zero in on where they can improve service.

To issue a fine any time someone says something bad about your business will not, repeat not, improve your customer service.

Are we next going to have film studios charge a fine to movie critics who write negative reviews of the movies the studios make?

Tooele, UT

I understand that companies, like individuals, want to avoid being slandered online. No one wants their hard work and dedication being ruined by people who simply want to lie about them online.

But if you promise a certain product or service and you fail to live up to your end of the bargain, it isn't slander when unhappy customers tell others about it.

On the other hand
Riverdale, MD

General Mills recently made headlines for reworking their legal policies. They now claim that if you "like" them on Facebook, use one of their coupons, or simply buy one of their products, you relinquish the right to sue them (instead, you must pursue binding arbitration, where the odds are stacked in GM's favor). Now we hear that KlearGear ruined a couple's credit score because of a negative online review. Their fine print apparently stipulates that by placing an order with the company, customers waive their first amendment rights. Have we really reached a point where the cost of doing business is that the little guy must give up all his rights? Is that even legal?

I understand that people occasionally file frivolous lawsuits or post slanderous, untruthful online reviews. I understand that these can harm companies. But binding and gagging all customers as a preventive measure is not the solution. Surely we can come up with a legal framework that will allow companies to conduct business in good faith without fear of unjustified attacks by consumers, while simultaneously protecting customers' rights in cases where companies have not lived up to customers' expectations or have caused actual harm.

Taylorsville, UT

This disparagement law was enacted to deal with corporate slandering each other with intent to harm and has nothing to do with consumer protection laws and rights of individuals. If this company or any company dealing with consumers who use this disparagement as a defense then its grounds for federal actions to block imports for consumer or retail sales.

I think this disparagement law is being used more widely in the US market than consumers or government heads realize. I have encountered some on-line retailers and sellers that makes threats against anyone leaving negative feedback on their business and is illegal in the bylaws of the web sites. I think this anti slander law is something consumer groups and federal laws should address and limit it to corporate transactions and not reported to credit bureaus.

Perhaps it is being used to block consumer investigating off shore companies requesting terms and conditions of foreign banks. I have encountered blocks on many in-store offshore issued credit and gift cards and you can't get any information about the 30-50 fees and charges they hold in secret.

Bountiful, UT

It was the other spouse that said bad things about clear gear. The spouse who made the agreement didn't violate it. Therefore clear gear is wrong.

Mount Pleasant, UT

Every comment was well-said. I totally agree. There is a freedom of speech in this wonderful country of ours.

Sugar City, ID

A lukewarm positive comment can leave a stronger message than a critical one. "I recommend ABC company because they are not as totally incompetent as XYZ company." How can you be sued for saying something like this?

Salt Lake City, UT

"... If a customer disagrees with any merchant of policies, they are free to shop elsewhere."

Yes, we ARE free to shop elsewhere. And, your company is free to go out of business as a result.

If I had a chance to, I'd ask the owners, "Of the two alternatives, which one do you think is most consequential and painful?"

This seems like an incredibly immature and foolish game of "Chicken".

Salt Lake City, UT

So, let's see if I have this straight.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution supposedly protects pornographers and pan-handlers in their forms of speech, but does not protect purchasers who are obviously disadvantaged by a company they purchase from?

Right. Maybe in France? Does the French constitution have anything like the Bill of Rights.

Actually, if this is the state of the law in the U.S.A., maybe this case should be used to change the law.

Smithfield, UT

I would be happy to boycott this company soley on the basis that they can't handle a negative review. I've never used them. I'll be sure I never do. I'd love to see this go to court and see what happens. It would start a needed revolution in the unlikely chance the judicial system sided for the French.. which they won't.

Logan, UT

So, someone purchases an item from a company and does not receive it, what are their options? Call Customer Relations, get turned away, "Not our fault," and ignored. Or warn others of your particular circumstances, and get fined, then brought to court.

It seems that Kleargear would have been much better off, from a business standpoint, fixing their own problems or at least replying once the negative review was placed, rather than fining the couple. Now the negative publicity has cost them much more- litigation, PR, etc. What do they choose to do after judgment? Let's make it worse by filing an appeal. Whoever is in charge of this company needs to be fired immediately.


After reading about the details of this case, how could anyone, including the French, purchase from this company?

Alpine, UT

As a matter of public policy, boiler-plate non-disparagement clauses in consumer purchase agreements should not be enforceable. They ARE necessary in settlement agreements where both parties agree that the dispute is over and done with and that neither should mention it again, even to speak the truth. However, there is another good defense in this case. A contract requires offer, acceptance, and consideration - meaning an exchange of value or commitments. If he didn't get the goods, the contract -- at least for the goods/services he didn't receive -- is void for want of consideration. Good luck in getting any relief in the internet age where the company "next door" has a legal presence is in Malta or the Seychelles. You can get jurisdiction in your home state but where are the assets?

Vernal, UT

"one-sided contractual fine print to try to bully unsatisfied customers into silence."

Pretty much said it all.

Redlands, CA

I bought something from someone on a big name site, and never got my product. When I went to give a review, big name site asked so many times, "Are you sure you want to leave a negative comment?" I was, or had been, until the third asking. I finally didn't leave any feedback but did eventually get my money back, which is more than this horrible company did for these people.
I was pretty irritated that a negative review would mean down the line problems for me. How is it a good thing to not be able to get feedback from customers?

us, CA

I am glad to see all the righteous indignation about this issue. If no product was received that means there was no contractual completion thereby nullifying that clause. I agree with the reader who said negative comments bring improvement. I have to liken it though to exactly what DN does when they refuse to print civil discourse and comments that even slightly disparage the church or certain members.

Understands Math
Lacey, WA

I think Descoteaux Boutiques SARL needs to look up "Streisand Effect."

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