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If You Didn’t Receive the Gift You Ordered, Maybe Blame Santa

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‘Tis the season for ordering gifts. Hopefully none of your purchases will leave you in a situation like that of Salt Lake City, Utah couple Jen and John Palmer.

As reported by ABC News, John ordered a desk ornament as a Christmas gift for his wife from five years ago. Because of a problem with the order, she never received the item and wrote a negative review about the company on the website

Since the incident was years ago, the Palmers forgot about it and were surprised to receive an email last summer from The company was demanding $3,500 per a clause in its Terms of Use on the website. The couple tried to have the review taken down, without any luck, and did not pay the money.

As a result, considered the money owed to them as a debt and reported it to at least one of the credit agencies. The couple has had problems with their credit since then, including being unable to receive financing to buy a new furnace. They and their young son were without heat for three weeks until they were able to save up to buy it.

After the Palmers’ story went public, they received some help. Scott Michelman, an attorney with Public Citizen Litigation Group, is now representing the couple and sent a letter to asking them to correct the reports of a debt to the credit agencies and seeking compensation of $75,000 for the couple. Attorney Michelman has given a deadline of December 16, 2013, for a response or else he plans to file suit.

It’s worth noting that Michelman has seen other companies try to do similar things to prevent negative reviews.

“So these contracts are ‘take it or leave it.’ They are not negotiated between parties of equal bargaining power,” he said. “A consumer going to a website to buy a product may not see or read through the terms of service by clicking ‘I agree.’”

Michelman also said that the “non-disparagement” clause was not even on the website when John Palmer placed his order in 2008.”

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December 16th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

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