Showing posts with label Commerce-Stealing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commerce-Stealing. Show all posts

December 21, 2013

What Would you do if KlearGear’s.com Fined You $3500. For a Negative Review? What Would You do?

  

Jen and John Palmer filed a lawsuit today against KlearGear.com in a Utah federal court, charging that the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other actions.
"In sum, KlearGear attempted to punish a dissatisfied customer for his wife's criticism of KlearGear, then abused the credit reporting system in an attempt to extort money that the customer did not owe and could not possibly have owed," the Palmers' lawsuit states.
The story goes back to December 2008 when KlearGear.com didn't deliver Jen Palmer's online Christmas order of a desk ornament and keychain that cost less than $20. Jen Palmer, now 40, wrote a negative review on private business review site RipoffReport.com, saying KlearGear.com had "horrible customer service practices."

Last summer, her husband, a senior network engineer, received an email from KlearGear.com demanding $3,500 pursuant to a non-disparagement clause that it claimed was in its "Terms of Use" on its website.
The Palmers say they asked RipOffReport to take down the negative review, but the site has an arbitration process that requires the involvement of the business. The couple say they shared this information with KlearGear.com, but the company didn't respond.
The Palmers refused to pay the fine, prompting KlearGear.com to report their "debt" to one or more credit reporting agencies, the suit claims. When the Palmers disputed the debt with several credit reporting agencies, KlearGear.com continued to maintain that the debt be paid and then demanded a $50 "dispute fee" because they attempted to dispute the debt, the couple claims.
KlearGear.com did not respond to a request for comment.
 The Palmers said the mark on their credit history affects their ability to obtain loans, most recently for a financing plan for a new furnace. As a result, in October, the couple and their 3-year-old son were without heat for three weeks until they saved the $1,900 to buy a furnace, the told ABCNews.com.
"KlearGear's unscrupulous conduct has affected every aspect of our lives, from major financial transactions like financing a new home purchase and a car purchase, to basic needs like heat in our home," John Palmer said in a statement. "For weeks, we bundled our son in blankets every night just to keep him warm in his own bedroom. We are fighting not only to clear my credit record and obtain compensation for our ordeal but also to make sure that no one else has to go through what we did."
Besides the debt to KlearGear.com, Palmer said she and her husband have maintained a good credit history.
After the Palmers took their story to a local television station, the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen volunteered to represent the couple, sending a letter last month to KlearGear.com, threatening to file a lawsuit against the e-commerce site unless it fixed the situation with a deadline of Dec. 16.
In the letter by Scott Michelman, staff attorney with Public Citizen who is representing the Palmers, the Palmers demanded that KlearGear.com inform the three major credit reporting agencies that their debt was in error, to compensate the Palmers $75,000 and not to include its "non-disparagement clause" going forward.
Michelman also said that the “non-disparagement" clause was not even on the website when John Palmer placed his order in 2008.
Information obtained from  SUSANNA KIM | Good Morning America 

November 21, 2013

“Cash America” Lending to People in Need and More, Stealing too!

Cash America International, a major owner of U.S. pawn shops and payday loan shops, has agreed pay $19 million in consumer refunds and fines for robo-signing documents used in debt collection, issuing improperly high loans to military members and destroying records sought by a federal regulator.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau imposed the penalties Wednesday under a consent order with the Fort Worth-based company. The penalties marked the agency's first enforcement action against a payday lender, one of the industries the regulator has examined since its 2010 creation under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act.
"If the bureau had not gone on site at Cash America, these problems might never have been uncovered," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray, who said the case highlighted the watchdog agency's mandate to oversee non-bank firms that affect millions of Americans "and make sure they're following the law."
Cash America CEO Daniel Feehan said the firm cooperated with examiners. "Now that we have completed the initial CFPB review process and entered into this settlement, we will continue to focus on serving our customers while working to develop additional compliance programs," he said.
According to the consent order, workers in Cash America's Ohio-based collections department improperly stamped their manager's signature on loan collection affidavits for nearly five years "without the manager's prior review of the affidavits or supporting documentation." An unidentified in-house collection attorney also directed workers to stamp the lawyer's name on Ohio court pleadings that had not been reviewed, the order said.
More than 14,000 Ohio consumers targeted in debt-collection lawsuits from 2008 to Jan. 2013 were affected, said Cordray. Cash America has already started repaying $6 million to the consumers, and will pay an additional $8 million in refunds, he said. The company also worked with the consumer watchdog to cancel improper Ohio debt-collection judgments.
Separately, investigators found that Cash America's online payday loan subsidiary in Chicago for nearly a year gave active-duty service members loans above the 36% annual interest rate maximum allowed by the Military Lending Act. More than 300 military members or their dependents received the loans.
Cash America has refunded $33,550 in loans and related fees to those customers, according to the order.
When notified in July 2012 that the regulator planned to examine its records, Cash America failed to preserve recorded phone calls and halt shredding of documents requested for the review. According to the order, company managers also told call-center workers "to de-emphasize the marketing and sales aspect" of their duties. They also instructed some to avoid using the word "sales" during interviews with examiners, and removed sales-focused material from office walls and cubicles.
The company has agreed to pay a $5 million fine for failing to preserve the requested records. During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Steve Antonakes, the consumer watchdog's deputy director, said it was unclear whether the record destruction was part of a deliberate effort to impede the exam.
The consent order also requires Cash America to strengthen its legal compliance procedures.

Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY

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