New From KlearGear: Free Speech, Only $3,500 Plus Shipping And Handling

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156 Responses

  1. Xenocles says:

    Let's say the clause was part of the signed contract, just for the sake of argument. Would the failure of the firm to provide service pursuant to the contract potentially void the rest of the contract?

  2. rsteinmetz70112 says:

    Interestingly, as far as I can tell, unlike many of his peers the Texas Secretary of State does not offer free listings of Corporation Information on his website. It appears you have to create an account and pay for the privilege of searching for public information.

  3. Andrew says:

    This is why I buy all my tchotchkes from Curio City.

  4. JT says:

    In an effort to ensure fair and honest discussion, no one is allowed to respond to my reply.

  5. Matt says:

    @Xenocles – No, probably not. If I have a contract with you, and I violate one part of the contract, I may be liable to you for damages, but it probably does not void the rest of the contract. That would let people potentially get out of contacts because of very minor or technical violations on the other side.

    I don't practice in this area of law, but my guess is that this clause is not enforceable against anyone. It seems like almost the law school textbook example of a contract of adhesion.

  6. xbradtc says:

    Xenocles, that was my first thought as well. You can hardly attack someone for breach of contract when your breach was the instigating factor.

  7. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries says:

    I sent KlearGear a polite little love note. Unfortunately, one must sign into Zendesk to do so, but I deemed it worth the inconvenience.

    Where do people get their crazy ideas?

  8. Ken White says:

    Yes, breach by the plaintiff is a defense to breach of contract.

  9. Careless says:

    You ever feel like applauding someone for an amazing feat of unethical behavior?

    Well done, kleargear. You're a true innovator in evil

  10. Andrew S. says:

    You mean I can just fine people for saying mean things about me? Wish I'd thought of that earlier. I'd be rich.

  11. Andrew S. says:

    Also, if you look under "Complaints" on the Western Michigan BBB link and click on unresolved complaints, you'll see someone else they threw a $3500 fee at (on top of a $50 fee and a $500 fee apparently).

  12. Xenocles says:

    Thanks, all. Though I suppose if I were in their position I'd muddy the waters with a friendly arbitration clause to handle alleged breaches.

  13. ZarroTsu says:

    I don't understand why companies like Kleargear even have a comment section for their products or services when they refuse to let you use it unless you follow a legal contract.

    It would make a lot more sense to me to just have false five and four-star reviews written by associates of Kleargear, or any other company that operates under the similar notion. It's exactly what they want, after all: Feedback to ensure more people buy more of their products, regardless of the actual quality or customer service.

    It makes sense to me, because if their heads are so far up their own asses to assume people will blindly like their products and services regardless of the quality therein, then when people so overjoyed by these products and services find they cannot express their joygasm on the associated website, they would instead blog about it, and promote that company's name as a good provider.

    While this makes sense to me, I will however stress that I do not agree with this idea – rather, it would simply prevent Kleargear from attacking customers for their own poor service. And considering their act in displaying a falsified BBB rating, I fail to see why they'd need consumer reviews at all. Why not go all-in in your fraudulent acts and profit from it silently and maliciously, if that's your intent?

    IANAL, but from this information I can't help but conclude the possibility that:

    (a) Kleargear is intentionally including the non-disparagement clause to profit off of casual users who have no reason to read legally binding contracts on desktop nick-nacks in the firstplace,

    (b) Kleargear intentionally wrote their non-disparagement clause while reviewing older site reviews, and are acting on it for easy (and fraudulent) profit from customers who it can scare into paying.

    Am I wrong, or missing something to lead to these conclusions?

  14. Hasdrubal says:

    You just made my weekend!

  15. I was Anonymous says:

    The threat to "pay up or we'll tell the credit bureaus" sounds like criminal extortion to me.

    But… I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. Hell, I didn't even sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

  16. Aaron says:

    Attempting to research KlearGear and determine ownership. So far, I've only been able to find the following, on the BBB page for the company:

    Contact Information
    Principal: Mr. Randall Prescott (Legal)

    It does not provide an address, email address, or phone number for Mr. Prescott. He also appears to have no internet presence, as Google finds nothing for his name that seems related to law practice.

    Edit: Apparently, they're registered in both Michigan and Texas. Can't seem to find much information on them in either place.

  17. Jon says:

    Aannd… it looks like Ken's comment (along with most of the others on their Facebook page) is already memory holed.

  18. Aaron says:

    Found someone else associated:

    On LinkedIn, Rob Key appears to be the CMO of KlearGear.

    Further investigation of Rob Key turns up this PR article, which lists his contact information as:

    Rob Key
    pr (at) kleargear (dot) com
    Phone (616) 965-2426
    Fax (616) 965-2427

  19. ZarroTsu says:

    @Ken's update:

    If I had a Facebook account and a link to the post, I'd follow-up with

    "Yes, hi, I ordered this about 800 years ago and it still hasn't showed up, and I still can't reach your customer service department. Who do I go to about resolving or refunding this issue?"

    Maybe translated to Japanese for added effect.

  20. Virgil says:

    A couple of thoughts….

    (1) The ultimate defense to anything of a libelous nature is truth. The clause talks about only libel, so if what was said turns out to be true, then it doesn't qualify as libelous, so the case should die before it even gets near a courtroom.

    (2) The credit bureau threat is empty. AFAIK, the only people who can write a "hard" hit to your credit rating are people you have accounts with, and those people you authorize to do a "hard pull" when you take out a new loan or line of credit (landlords, car dealers, credit card companies, utility suppliers etc. Anyone you have to give your SS number to open an account with).

    Without handing over your SSN, everyone else is merely entitled to a "soft pull". This is the kind of info' a credit card company would use to identify you as a good prospect before bombarding you with junk mail offers. I would be highly doubtful that Kleargear has the client's SS # or is authorized to do any kind of hard pull/write. They can do soft-pulls until the cows come home, but that does nothing to the score.

  21. scott says:

    BBB says their legal dept. is here:

    7122 Oaklawn Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229-3021

    which turns out to be Chenal Corp.:

    http://chenalcorp.com/

    seems shady so far…

    Edit – BINGO! Paydirt!

    http://edgar.secdatabase.com/2115/150017010000001/filing-main.htm

  22. Bill C says:

    Despite all the complaints the Kleargear.com's BBB rating is currently a "B", proving how worthless the BBB really is.

  23. scott says:

    Paydirt!

    http://edgar.secdatabase.com/2115/150017010000001/filing-main.htm

    See previous comment for how I ended up here.

  24. Aaron says:

    Adding to my last comment, which is in the moderation queue, and per this article, Lee Gersten is the president of KlearGear (can't find contact info on him), and Rob Key is the CMO and press contact.

    You can contact Rob at:
    email rkey@kleargear.com or pr@kleargear.com

    From Rob Key's email format, it might be a good guess that Gersten can be contacted at lgersten@kleargear.com .

  25. Tali McPike says:

    I believe what they threatened to do was send it to a collections agency, and of course if that happens it does end up on your credit report because that is how debt collectors roll.

  26. The Man in the Mask says:

    It would appear that these same lovely people also operate geektees.com (per the HTML tags visible in the source of the home page of chenalcorp.com; also geektees.com is presently redirecting to kleargear.com).

    Other commenters have already noted that a BBB rating is worthless; so is a TrustE rating, which currently shows up on their web site.

    Also, their "media relations" page mentions:

    Rob Key
    Media Relations
    KlearGear.com
    2885 Sanford Ave SW Suite #19886
    Grandville, MI 49418
    Phone (616) 965-2426
    Fax (616) 965-2427

    I wonder how busy he is today…if he exists.

  27. Scott says:

    @Virgil The hit on the Palmer's credit has already happened. They have attempted, thus far unsuccessfully, to get it removed. The one article linked reports that they have suffered adverse impact as well, being rejected by lenders for loans for a car and a home repair. Seems these KlearGear guys might be buying the Palmers a new car, a new furnace, and enough money left over for a lot of crap desktop tchotchkes.

    @Ken How is it even possible that a contract of adherence can be applied to a basic property-transfer sale? I mean, doesn't that upend a significant historical precedent of property and common law?

  28. gramps says:

    So. Instead of trying to extract settlements to head off litigation by a claimed copyright holder for allegedly downloading porn, this group of bandits is trying to extract "legal fees" by threatening someone's credit rating…

    If my analogy holds, I see big trouble for KlearGear coming. As I heard someplace, "the wheels may turn slowly, but turn they do."

  29. ZK says:

    It sounds to me, from the KUTV article, that KlearGear isn't *threatening* to do this, but has already claimed this debt and informed credit rating agencies. Is that correct?

    Time to sue.

  30. some guy says:

    More contact info for Robert Key from

    http://finance.paidcontent.org/paidcontent/news/read?GUID=22106787

    Robert Key
    rkey@chenalmedia.com
    http://www.chenalmedia.com
    (310) 362-0245

    chenal media, chenal brands, and chenal corp appear to all be related.

  31. TMPinSYR says:

    Isn't it interesting that their website has a page for Terms of Sale and Use, and Policies but there is no reference to this restriction of commentary and potential "fine"? So one might read through these assuming that they contain everything that a potential customer needs to know?

    Gotcha- making an order now subjects you to the Double Secret PROBATION Terms of Use!

    Edit: Me not good at HTML. :( Tried adding hyperlink to page: http://www.kleargear.com/help.html

  32. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    I'm not excusing KlearGrear here, but I've worked in retail and done some mail-order, and the margins are VERY thin, and the upper-management tends to be Dilbertesque, and I can totally understand how one could start in a legitimate business and gradually become totally paranoid and swinish.

    Doesn't mean they shouldn't get clocked for it.

  33. Jim says:

    Up until recently they also had a "Chargeback and Dispute Policy" clause where they would fine you $550, send you to a collections agency, and add you to the badcustomers.com blacklist (since shutdown as a scam by the FTC in 2011) if you attempted to get your credit card to stop payment on an item in dispute. The badcustomers.com threat was in the T&C as recently as August 2013, even though the site hasn't existed for 2 years.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20130817144417/http://www.kleargear.com/termsofuse.html

    http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/bad-customer-i-works-scam-enforcer-busted-ftc-1282.php

  34. Sasquach (no t for the squach) says:

    I can't speak for Texas, because as mentioned by rsteinmetz70112, their registry is under SOSDirect, which is pay for play. However I can say that Kleargear.com, Inc., which the company gives as its name on its website, is not currently registered with either Michigan, where they say they are headquartered, or Delaware (in fact, nothing starting with Klear that could reasonably be inferred to be Kleargear was registered).

    That said, there appears to be a real connection between Chenal Brands, Inc. and Kleargear as noted by several commentators above. (see these press releases)

    The CEO of that company appears to be Will Bermender (see: linkedin page and businessweek profile)

  35. nlp says:

    "People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world"

    And the sound of the Streisand rises across the land, just in time for Christmas shopping.

  36. RKN says:

    They can do soft-pulls until the cows come home …

    Speaking of which, where's Angus been lately?

  37. Dan T. says:

    @RKN Perhaps if you go to one of the restaurants offering "Angus beef burgers" you'll see his (or her? is it a cow or a bull?) remains.

  38. Brown says:

    Checked TexasSOS. Nothing for "kleargear" or "Klear Gear." No persons named Robert Key, Lee Gersten, Randall Prescott or Will Bermender are listed as registered agents or principals for any entity.Chenal Corp. has a listing but forfeited its existence in 1994. I checked Bexar County Clerk records and found nothing. I checked district court and found no cases in which Kleargear or Chenal are named as parties. I was bored.

  39. rmd says:

    Based on the San Antonio connection, which per @Brown now seems suspect, I sent links to the Techdirt article and this post to one of the SA news stations.

  40. Tom says:

    Is there any reason why the Palmers should not be registering a complaint with the Texas AG? If, as Ken says, this is fraud, wouldn't the AG pursue it? Or is it too small fry for the AG to pay attention to.

  41. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries says:

    When I looked at the FB page, it said there were 173 comments on that post. I clicked the link, and there were 4, all within the last hour. I commented on the deletions. I'm sure I'll be deleted asap.

  42. JWH says:

    To ensure fair and honest feedback, anybody who responds to my comment will be on the hook for my student loans.

  43. apauld says:

    KlearGear just nuked their own facebook page….

  44. Dave says:

    It may have been overlooked, but the ToS linked on the Internet Archive shows a link to a Havaco Direct, Inc. Here is some information on that company, with a phone number:

    http://www.buzzfile.com/business/Havaco-Direct-Inc-210-389-1616/

  45. JDworkin says:

    Well Ken , I guess I should have read the blog today before I sent you a link to this very story. I was reading it on another site and thought 'This is a job for Pope Hat and his mighty mitre !'

  46. Wayne says:

    Isn't this basically blackmail and/or extortion on top of fraud? If so shouldn't the owner(s) be liable for criminal prosecution?

    I worked for a company that once tried similar.. threatened to subpoena Glassdoor to get names of people who posted negative reviews to sue them, because negative reviews were a "violation of the employment agreement". It shows you what kind of people do this: Crooks and scumbags who don't want the truth to come out.

  47. barry says:

    Contracts must be for a lawful purpose. When can suppression of criticism count as lawful?

    In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content…

    doesn't sound totally honest to me.

  48. Lex says:

    Additional Sleuthing -

    KlearGear.com (a wholly-owned subsidiary of catalog and e-commerce conglomerate Havaco Direct Inc.)

    "Guys love gadgets, and KlearGear.com has over a thousand gadgets, tools, office toys, and home and office decor ideas for any techie dad," stated Will Bermender, President of KlearGear.com. "

  49. Robin says:

    From various press releases from Havaco and KlearGear:

    William.Bermender@Havaco.com +1-214-432-7923

  50. SharonA says:

    don't have time to do any real digging, sorry, but here's a snippet:

    source: http://www.trademarkia.com/klear-gear-77240446.html

    KLEAR GEAR
    By: Havaco Direct, Inc.

    On-line retail store services featuring gifts, gadgets, office supplies, office toys and decor, and novelty items

    [boilerplate paragraph deleted]

    On Friday, July 27, 2007, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for KLEAR GEAR by Havaco Direct, Inc., SAN ANTONIO 78230. The USPTO has given the KLEAR GEAR trademark serial number of 77240446. The current federal status of this trademark filing is ABANDONED-FAILURE TO RESPOND OR LATE RESPONSE. The correspondent listed for KLEAR GEAR is HAVACO DIRECT, INC. of HAVACO DIRECT, INC., 9901 IH 10 W STE 800, SAN ANTONIO, TX 78230-2292 . The KLEAR GEAR trademark is filed in the category of Advertising, Business & Retail Services . The description provided to the USPTO for KLEAR GEAR is On-line retail store services featuring gifts, gadgets, office supplies, office toys and decor, and novelty items.

    Word Mark: KLEAR GEAR
    Status/
    Status Date: ABANDONED-FAILURE TO RESPOND OR LATE RESPONSE
    6/20/2008

    Serial Number: 77240446
    Filing Date: 7/27/2007
    Registration Number: NOT AVAILABLE
    Registration Date: NOT AVAILABLE
    Goods and Services: On-line retail store services featuring gifts, gadgets, office supplies, office toys and decor, and novelty items
    Mark Description: NOT AVAILABLE
    Type Of Mark: Service Mark
    Published For Opposition Date: N/A
    Last Applicant/Owner: Havaco Direct, Inc.
    SAN ANTONIO 78230
    Why is this contact information displayed?
    Mark Drawing Code: Standard Character Mark
    Design Search: (NO DATA)
    Register Type: Principal
    Disclaimer: (GEAR)
    Correspondent: HAVACO DIRECT, INC.
    HAVACO DIRECT, INC.
    9901 IH 10 W STE 800
    SAN ANTONIO, TX 78230-2292

    That's the 4th San Antonio address I've seen associated with the Havaco listings. Most of the hits were on the plethora of public-record-scraping "business directory" sites and potentially several years old.

    There's also a second Klear Gear trademark registration for Havaco Direct Inc, also dead.

  51. Rusty Bill says:

    FWIW Department:

    I live in San Antonio; have since 1987. I've always been interested in the sort of products that KlearGear apparently sells. And for the last ten years, I have worked for a retail store that carries that sort of merchandise.

    I have never even heard of KlearGear.

  52. Andybob says:

    In Australia the 'fine' clause would be void as a penalty at common law and liable to be declared void by a Court under the expanded definition of unconscionable conduct in the Australian Consumer Law. The mention of costs in the clause smacks of an attempt to clothe the penalty with a fig leaf of liquidated damages.

    I hope that KlearGear reap what they have sewn and that the Palmers get full redress for the loss they have suffered together with punitive and exemplary damages.

  53. John SMythe says:

    Look up kleargear on Pipl.com
    Will Bermender – http://www.pinterest.com/kleargear/

    Will Bermender, Los Angeles, CA, US, Texas, US – Executive Chairman at Chenal Media, Board …
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/2/928/b67

    Will Bermender
    https://www.facebook.com/will.bermender.7

    Will Bermender (peoplesmart)
    Age: 43
    Location: San Antonio, TXMaple Grove, MNOsseo, MNFarmington Hills, MI

    http://www.spokeo.com/search?q=William+Bermender&sao9=t105#:13838247801
    William Franklin Bermender
    Chenal Valley Dr, Apt 2304 (no coincidence, not included in search)
    Old address, latest address is san antonio texas

    Radaris:

    William Franklin Bermender (43)
    Addresses & Phones (several familiar)

    [Possible home addresses and phone number edited out by Ken

  54. John Doe says:

    Havaco Direct, Inc is the corporate name of Klear Gear. It is a Delaware corporation.

    File Number: 3745438 Incorporation Date / Formation Date: 12/29/2003
    (mm/dd/yyyy)
    Entity Name: HAVACO DIRECT, INC.
    Entity Kind: CORPORATION Entity Type: GENERAL
    Residency: DOMESTIC State: DE
    REGISTERED AGENT INFORMATION
    Name: THE COMPANY CORPORATION
    Address: 2711 CENTERVILLE RD STE 400
    City: WILMINGTON County: NEW CASTLE
    State: DE Postal Code: 19808
    Phone: (302)636-5440

  55. Zack says:

    Uh: Is a provision like this in any way enforceable? I don't see how, really. It seems not only cowardly and despicable, but what would be the law with respect to enforcing and upholding it? If it's not enforceable/upholdable in this instance, is there ever an instance where a clause prohibiting criticism could or would be enforceable and upholdable?

  56. runner-up says:

    Sorry about the link wall of text below.if you go to klear gears website and click about there is a picture of their warehouse. Fortunately for people looking for real info about the company they used a realtors stock pic with a address associated.so we know where they are physically located now.

    Posting anonymously for obvious reasons

    http://www.google.com/search?tbs=sbi:AMhZZisUc9SozSxdxAvT6RsRyI6k3Lx76qBbLauSjvIp08PqgIt5O57Dv3X01s9uOg-WGV8sLICj2RMpe5r5XclpqGC1hDAfG-l0de21sJcKHE3rgTBLZkEI5worDqNkxY1temKgTspe-LRKbIgeEh5TUnRRqtfFSmOzTMZvTEgOby6CSre-QFL573kqdh_1xDqZWeoGT3TOojk79eHyW16x4g8FDVuwdd5b9UYfXzjeBLCYgkUq3ToHjvet2HfosGZyD44ph8WIYLU5FXRL94m9EKQX-3cNPtfR0myT8fgaURNHue4e18eiOOfvcZ7yQ6YBDxedrJxPTDWffsiYH-ZeyOxe6jW9VNf0Ll8U6978WqHJonizMsJ99M3F97iCAfZsRMb0kbLXa8xzPweo693w-Bp_1OO9jwKt1qDDU81DGWoL2ZFsPf8EV9TW38WTMwdJIEJF3Pt4CBoQ79pN5ino858_1QrlyCxW7aYxw1vUFwcsGFbcLGpGXkwFMN5kBJnqRGhpcPaM5E_1qL80xyVzqgI8_1N3jBnqjtDUAhPeSDCOiNAojuI4KrB5Sx2aRTMUkjrP58Vcn-9pxh2YCnmrDXOcnkElxifbnYDoHQJTdBzS60mn-7OG-Q2mV9voJ77u7yUUSxpAOK-djYdM5GhwG7MqXjaEcrvH8mEzGEDKHs3-3aKhZ-QfXn1a3SBA6m7GEVdjwgYsqO6B7DMQ9qdozbYHXbbLN_1iUZOqpR-ujOLOWI74max-OBBNmb4etLvwPz9L7D8nqExnHC7LzmKa0RDGV4lYc2mX4jXXGtDBaOLHWsG0fChlctjLXgdCrNGB7wHwlaHRTwwztUBwDamSIYCZTpodDHrtaLcmdXlEmqaKq1CyJkwMVCqkscln8MWUuqNDJwww0Z3hIaojbN7fSake-SKuAH4ofwtmZ_1wjb3AoxshLmn1UlF_1haQR1DtgPswUCvKgZ0SNHjRB6UzO1_1t-677cp7FEooPy8ZUNiBtwbrsUZ1iKvI_1KLqAOh6NCme9UP1IrjTZ9XXsnZsipf8C0J68Yawo52Ja7fZ99e7rI27x-9k7_1XMT4d4EQRNISi2F1qKccCdhLMtiIPRLSDlOF5wmWa1ZWyqi4hzimxHumSYWt-srKu5ZDrRLK7TIWnunSykgDCL06RUpkNYG21jI2WEAAxYuRTF81kT-W3gxjtpB1wEzX_13eWe3XeUSvsN41y3u477BUwBTMkallfoLWyLV5TLuR5-YqwFUTuZKTfR1s1p5a0CSwVcKpJNxRhmkiP1F5cqA58uFetwt_1wPJDQC8BGBLEpi4zww&hl=en&site=webhp&sa=X&ei=oe-GUreaE-LisATQ0IEw&ved=0CDgQ9Q8oAA

  57. kombi says:

    Ok this is what I would do. Follow me because I explain it all in the end.Shotgun/Scorched Earth Policy.
    0. Contact Paypal. ell them they are trying to shake you down
    1.Contact ACLU or EFF (I think it is) You might be able to get a lawyer thru them
    2Contact the Utah BBB File complaint
    3. Find out the law firm they are using in Utah. Or where they are.
    4.Contact Utah state bar and file complaint
    5. Contact the Utah AG office. They might have violated the law by waiting so long.
    6. File BBB Complaint on all the credit reporting agency's.
    7. File complaint with the Utah AG office on all the credit reporting agencies.
    8. With or without your lawyer file an injunction against the credit reporting agency forbidding them from reporting the disputed amount.
    9. File an injunction forbidding the company from proceeding on any "fine" until this is resolved in a court of law.
    10. Sue everyone in sight. The company, The owners, the members of the board (LLC's have pres, vice pres) The lawyer lawfirm that sent you the letter, Paypal/ebay, your bank or cc All the companys listed on the bottom of the web page. (It will be in your favor) everyone.
    11. Cut deal to drop paypal/ebay, NBC, ABC/Disney, PC Mag. Agree to drop suit if they also sue the company. By having the logo's on the page. They are un knowingly associating with the site .
    12. Sue till they are out of business.

    And when i Say sue everyone. I mean everyone. There web host, Name everyone personally, Cust service reps, Paypal reps, the shipping company. Everyone. That includes the shifty review web site. Depending on how they describe there company in there DBA. They could be in trouble. You also file BBB and complaints against them. They my be violating some Utah state law

    Oh I would have a friend or relative buy one of the "licensed" item on there site. Lets say the Iron Man USB Drive. Is it a official Disney Marvel licensed item? If not contact Paypal and the FBI as a bootleg item
    Word Mark: KLEAR GEAR
    Status/
    Status Date: ABANDONED-FAILURE TO RESPOND OR LATE RESPONSE
    6/20/2008

    Quick someone trade make it and sue them for using your name.

  58. Duke says:

    Doesn't RipOffReport deserve a small amount of the blame here? They charge $2,000 to delete one's own post. That sounds even more like blackmail.

  59. Brown says:

    SOSDirect has a listing for Havaco Direct, Inc. It filed an Application for Certificate of Authority in 2005. It states that Havaco is a DE corp and lists its Director and President as William Bermender. It forfeited its existence in 2007.

    Bermender sent a letter to the Texas Comptroller that is also on file with the Texas SOS. The letter, dated November 2011, states, in short, that Bermender was an outside contractor for Havaco in 2005, but he was never an officer or director ("Apparently, my name erroneously appears in state records for this organization – without my knowledge or consent."). Bermender asks that the Comptroller and SOS remove his name in connection with the company.

    Bermender's letterhead contains an email address with @ChenalCo.com. Didn't find any litigation history for Havaco in Bexar County.

  60. Jon says:

    ("Apparently, my name erroneously appears in state records for this organization – without my knowledge or consent.")

    Anyone want to take bets on whose mother-in-law told him about it?

  61. johnl says:

    I'm curious how they are reporting to credit bureaus. Those aren't supposed to be rant repositories. There is vetting.

  62. Chris says:

    The woman should take them to court, she does not need an expensive lawyer either to point out that due to their inability or wanting to deliver on the ordered product forcing their money to be returned. The contract was null and void therefore their charging her 3,500 and then sending a 3rd party collection agency on her for failure to pay is something even first year law student could fight blind folded.

    The whole contract was based on the sale, as someone mentioned there is no partial in this. The company never even attempted to deliver on their end of the deal as Paypal had no issues getting her money back.

  63. Love a Good Hunt says:

    Will Bermender is definitely behind KlearGear. I'm combining some previously cited links with some additional research.

    First, multiple older press releases list Will as the president of KlearGear:

    "It's the coolest office toy ever made," said KlearGear.com President and Chief Geek Will Bermender.

    "Our new affiliate program is the perfect win-win situation where we can introduce our cutting edge gadgets to new audiences, while also sharing financial rewards with web site owners," said Will Bermender, President at KlearGear.com.

    Plus, Havaco Direct has apparently used the same San Antonio address that White Pages lists for a 40-something Will Bermender. (Perhaps the media should try that number?)

    The LinkedIn page for Will Bermender says he's in LA, so is this the same Will? Well, we do know that Chenal owns KlearGear, but is this the same as Chenal Media? Yes it is!

    Apparently Will decided to use his gadget gains to break into the Hollywood biz. And all we need to do to confirm that the Chenal Brands and KlearGear/Chenal are the same is check out the name on the bottom of the press release announcing Chenal Media's funding.

  64. Rob says:

    For those wondering whether the contract, if the Palmer's had actually agreed to the $3,500 penalty, would be void, the answer is yes. Failure to deliver the product was the essential ingredient, so to speak, of the contract. It is what the Palmer's based their entire acceptance on, which means, if that part of the deal is broken, there's nothing left of the contract. Remember, the Palmer's were only obligated to pay, which they did, and once Klear Gear failed to deliver, the contract is void.
    Secondly, I can't think of any state court that would enforce this clause. And it wouldn't even get in the door of a federal court.
    However, the Palmer's have several claims against Klear Gear, and the reporting agencies for that matter — they are actually required to do some investigation of negative reports such as this.

  65. Karen says:

    Chenal media, the parent company to Klear Gear, is a fake company. Their website, http://www.chenalmedia.com, takes you to a gas/oil website, total.com

  66. Jack Murray says:

    Once upon a time, when patent trolls first started infesting the US legal system through the banana republic of East Texas, D. Fed, the principals behind the shells tried to hide inside layers and layers of corp llc paperwork. Still, almost all could be traced through diligent search of docs both inside and outside the US, esp in the EU where there are just some records that absolutely have to be filed, with real identities attached.

    With Kleargear, the web definitely shows the connection between it and Chenal Brands. If you follow the connections and relationships of Chenal Brands and Will Bermender, you come across a diverse menagerie of (one would think) wealthy individuals including attorneys, investors and corp execs. People one wouldn't normally associate with such mundane businesses like mail order, and yet there they are. Pay attention to the "relationships" at the bottom of the pages.
    employees of Chenal Brands; http://www.yatedo.fr/s/companyname%3A%28%22Chenal+Brands%22%29
    http://www.yatedo.fr/willbermender
    Why would people such as these bother with mail order? I just don't get it.

  67. Rob says:

    Well, this thing is beginning to resemble Prenda's shenanigans, with multiple shells and all. Somebody's got something to hide.

  68. The Man in the Mask says:

    They're busy covering their tracks. Between yesterday afternoon and now (lunchtime, eastern US) they scrubbed the home page of chenalcorp.com. It no longer has any content. However, the metatags are still there. Let me see if I can reproduce them here in a way that will survive:

    meta name="description" content="Chenal Brands develops, owns, and operates retail store concepts across a diverse range of vibrant niche markets."

    meta name="keywords" content="chenal corp., chenal brands, kleargear.com, geektees.com"

    Someone, or multiple someones, are finding the bright light very uncomfortable. I think that argues for turning it up even higher.

  69. David C says:

    @Kombi: At the very least the last action you suggest about taking their expired trademark and then suing them for infringement wouldn't work, because prior use of the mark is a defense. And if it was part of a campaign against them, then your actions would be in bad faith, which likely makes things worse. I suspect much of your other "advice" is just as bad.

    It's one thing to not hire a lawyer in an action, it's another to not hire one when you're trying to execute multiple strategies and sue multiple people on multiple grounds. What you suggest doing would be MORE expensive than hiring a lawyer because you'd likely end up paying the fees for the OTHER side's lawyers, and you can bet the credit bureaus have expensive ones. Sue your bank? For what, exactly, and how did you manage to find one that doesn't just have an arbitration agreement forbidding you to sue?

    Sheesh, you're almost making me realize why non-lawyers aren't supposed to give legal advice.

  70. Karen says:

    I wonder if Will Bermender is a real person. Every web business affiliated with him is fraudulent.

  71. Karen says:

    Will Bermender lives at [info deleted] If you look this address up on Bexar County TX property records, it shows Susan Vanhorn as the owner of the property.

    We normally don't allow posting of home addresses or phone numbers. This isn't one of the rare exceptions. Please don't do it again. –Ken

  72. John Tracy says:

    Their facebook page is gone. I guess they got tired of deleting comments.

  73. Karen says:

    Someone made a fake Facebook page for Kleargear so people could vent their hatred for this company.

  74. Traci says:

    Well Rob Key – The Chief Marketing Officer is on Linkedin. I think I'll send him a note :)

    From the website
    Rob Key
    pr@kleargear.com

  75. Ken White says:

    I have now edited three comments that included home addresses and phone numbers. I came very close to banning some dipshit who explicitly suggested going to somebody's house. We don't tolerate that shit here. If that's your style, go away and don't come back.

  76. If anybody wants to drop the dough for the report ($99, unless you also get the historical domains), there's a "Will Bermender" attached to a good number of other domains.

  77. The WHOIS of WillBermender.com is also fun. The registrant appears to be Megan Tolcher, KlearGear's director of merchandising. Something strange is going on with the WHOIS info on this one, as the DomainTools record indicated that, until recently, it was registered to Bermender at a San Antonio address associated with KlearGear. But the WHOIS 'updated' date indicates it hasn't been updated in awhile. May be a fluke.

  78. Wondering says:

    Not a lawyer, so I'm wondering what the legal difference is between blackmail and extortion. Is blackmail a type of extortion?

  79. Frank says:

    This article is confused as to what you can legally put in fine print when you make an online sale. It doesn't matter if it was part of the agreement when she clicked or not, totally irrelevant, the courts will not recognize such a practice in all likelihood, no matter if you signed in triplicate with your own blood, they won't recognize such an agreement. I'd be genuinely surprised that the local authorities to this company don't look into prosecuting them for fraud and extortion attempts.

  80. Ken White says:

    So you have a case citation from a relevant jurisdiction to support your legal argument, right Frank?

  81. soRob says:

    I just want to mention that the Rob who posted at 6:08 this morning is not the same Rob that posted at 9:01; I’ll go by Some Other Rob from now on, to avoid any confusion.

  82. flip says:

    The LinkedIn pages for Will Bermender no longer work: the scrubbing continues there too.

  83. Jess says:

    Looks like they're still claiming to have an A+ BBB rating: http://i.imgur.com/SYVgWg0.png

    How has their Paypal account not been revoked with so many customer issues and chargebacks? They must be paying out the arse for a merchant account, or maybe changing businesses/individuals that it's under. Or something shady.

  84. Trent says:

    It's been pointed out elsewhere but I'll mention it here. For those that don't know the Fair-Credit reporting act makes what this company did illegal. Highly illegal in fact. They can sue in federal court for every dollar this illegal credit action caused and IIRC can go for punitive damages as well. They should have no trouble finding a lawyer willing to represent them on contingency given the slam dunk nature of the credit reporting fraud.

    Don't violate the fair credit reporting act, it gives immense power to the consumer to go after fraudulent reports and seek monetary damages.

  85. AlphaCentauri says:

    These domains are apparently associated, but not all have websites and some seem to have expired:
    SunglassesPro.com
    EggHeaders.com
    GeekOutfitters.com
    TwistedPlayground.com
    KleargearComplaints.com
    BuySomeCrap.com
    bermender.com
    chenalcorp.com
    wwwkleargear.com
    turnaroundleader.com
    WillBermenDer.com
    GeekShirtShop.com
    TwistedGoodies.com
    MixxKicks.com
    chenalco.com
    havaco.com
    TaggerPal.com

  86. JonCB says:

    @Tali McPike
    The original story was about a credit bureau as an "already listed" thing, not about debt collectors. The victims are probably better off if it is debt collectors anyway.

    The first conversation with the debt collector should certainly involve the words "I dispute that i owe this debt at all" which generally means (especially when confirmed in writing within 30 days which is what the US statute requires) that the debt collectors have to produce documentation that prove you owe the debt. Lame duck debts like this stand a fair chance of just getting written off. Note that during this period they are obliged to report to the credit bureaus that the debt is "in dispute" as well.

    Note that IANAL and TINLA of course.

  87. staci says:

    Could this be any *cough* relation to the extremely occasional actor Will Bermender or Shawna Bermender?

  88. Linda says:

    This Kleargear looks to me to sell China cheap junk? I would not be a bit surprised they are NOT in another country and have ties here. If I received the 3,500 threat I would surely tell them where to shove it. Also like other posters said,without your SS# how the hell can they turn you over to collections?

  89. Jack Murray says:

    I was wondering why my post was moderated. No real addresses, no Google Earth pics, no profanity, no trolling. Was it the links, maybe? I like PH and really don't want to get on somebody's bad side.

  90. Ken White says:

    It wasn't moderated. It was in the spam filter.

  91. john says:

    from intelius.com

    Harold W Bermender, age 43
    AKA William Franklin Bermender, W H Bermender, Will Bermender, William W Bermender, W Bermender
    Has lived in San Antonio TX, Round Rock TX, Hamden CT, Philadelphia PA, Osseo MN, New Haven CT, Little Rock AR, Southbury CT
    Has Worked for Havaco Direct, Chenal Brands, Haniel Industries, Comcast Corporation, Havaco Direct Inc, Chanal Media, Mix Kicks, Shopscape, ShopNBC, Denmore Garments, Cendant Corporation
    Has studied at AIC
    Related to Priscilla Rivera, Sharon Bermender, Lee Bermender, Susan Bermender, Roberto Jimenez

    Sharon Jean Bermender, age 67
    Has lived in San Antonio TX, Los Angeles CA, Little Rock AR
    Relatives Harold Bermender, James Bermender

    James William Bermender, age 39
    Has lived in Los Angeles CA, Torrington CT, Denton TX
    Related to William Bermender, Sharon Bermender, Felicity Payne

    William W Bermender, age 78
    AKA William F Bermender, H William Bermender, Harold W Bermender, H II Wm Bermender
    Has lived in Hamden CT, New Haven CT, Southbury CT
    Related to Lee Bermender, Priscilla Rivera

    from Veroni.com

    William Franklin Bermender, 43
    AKA Willi Bermender
    Has lived in San Antonio TX, Round Rock TX, Little Rock AR, Harlingen TX, Denton TX, Farminton Hills MI, Wilmington DE, Maple Grover MN
    Possible Relationships Sharon Jean Bermender, Sharon Bermender

    William H Bermender, age 78
    AKA H 2N Bermender, H W Bermender, Harold W Bermender, William W Bermender, H William Bermender, H Wm Bermender
    Has lived in Jacksonville FL, New Haven CT, Southbury CT, Hamden CT
    Possible Relationships Priscilla C Bermender, Hwilliam Bermender, Lee Bermender

    Sharon Jean Bermender, age 67
    AKA Sharon W Bermender
    Has lived in Hatboro PA, San Antonio TX, Los Angeles CA
    Possilbe Relationship William Bermender, William Franklin Bermender, James W Bermender, Felicity Dana Payne Bermender

  92. Aaron says:

    Were the spam filters changed? Lots of stuff seems to be getting caught in them, lately. Or maybe it's just this thread, where lots of people are linking to show how they conducted their research.

  93. Aaron says:

    @Adam Steinbaugh

    Megan Tolcher, KlearGear's Director of Merchandising, is also the DOD (whatever that is) for ChenalCo. Check out the list of people who endorse her: Will Bermender and some German investor named Tom R—-, who it says is the CFO of ChenalCo.

    Chenal and KlearGear sure have a lot of overlap.

    Also, from the Google Cache of Chenal Media's website:

    how to find us
    Looking for more information? Drop us a line.

    5042 Wilshire Blvd #19886,
    Los Angeles, CA 90036 US.

    Tel:1.310.362.0245
    Fax:1.310.362.0263

  94. john says:

    It looks like their address is a forwarding service

    http://www.mailboxforwarding.com/address.php

    Google maps shows the building as cheap industrial bays.

  95. Jon says:

    KlearGear's home page (one of the few pieces of their web presence that hasn't been scrubbed) now includes this statement, odd capitalization and all:

    WHOA! Due to an unexpected and sharp increase in recent order volume, orders with Standard Shipping will temporarily leave Kleargearland in up to 48 business hours. We apologize for the short delay.

    We have called in The Reinforcements and expect to be back to our same-day shipping target by Wednesday. Enjoy your visit!

    Lee Gersten
    President, Kleargear.com

    So if this is true, I would guess they aren't bothered by the negative aspects of the Streisand effect.

    Would be interesting to know if the stock photo next to this message is properly licensed.

    I also wonder if "48 business hours" means 6 working days…

  96. Star says:

    Texas SOS requires money but the comptroller's site doesn't. Chenal Corporation is listed there in an inactive status with a registered agent named Larry Essary in Richardson (near Dallas).

  97. iUserName says:

    http://m.prnewswire.com/news-releases/employers-combat-workplace-stress-with-slingshots-and-slime-150747925.html"Smart organizations put their employees first and their customers second," said KlearGear.com president Lee Gersten. "If you take care of your employees, they'll take care of your customers."

    …..

    Today, KlearGear counts some of the largest U.S. companies in these industries as its most frequent business customers.

    …..

    KlearGear expanded its own employees' office toy arsenal to help resolve stress stemming from the company's rapid growth. While its customer base ballooned to more than 1 million "cube dwellers" across 80 countries with orders ranging in size from $10 to $10,000, KlearGear struggled to keep pace with growing demand for its inventive and often exclusive desktop toys and cubicle decor.

    Following its 116% revenue growth between 2007 and 2010, during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Inc. Magazine named KlearGear to its 2011 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in America.

  98. Doctor X says:

    Thanks to ratings from readers, the "Web of Trust" rating for its webpage is deep red.

  99. John SMythe says:

    Kent, sorry for posting the (old) addresses, but they're all publicly available and several matched listed addresses for the corporation, (coyanosa, buroak) hence I felt it was appropriate in that context.

    Did not post the latest address that showed up in this service. None if these were obtained via payment of some fee, these just show up in services open to the public, to be exact, right here: http://radaris.com/~William-Bermender/205289463

  100. jpinard says:

    Who wants to bet there's a lot more nefarious & illegal stuff going on at this company than meets the eye?

    When people get this bold, it reminds me of Prenda uploading it's own porn to pirate sites to prosecute people. Peeling back the layers of this onion (like you're all doing) is going to reveal a network of illegality.

  101. john doe says:

    did anyone actually get anything from them? I believe they are fake company that don't have any product at all. They got your credit numbers and charge it. They have a lot of shell companies, just like bad customer.com. All their company registered names are fake.

  102. SJD says:

    @Jon

    WHOA! Due to an unexpected and sharp increase in recent order volume,

    I have a gut feeling that Hansmeier hired an army of "testers" to make small purchases in a hope they won't be shipped — to sue them.

    Ah, if one scumbag tried to extort another, leaving productive population alone, it wouldn't be that grim…

  103. Jon says:

    Interesting. Kleargear's Suite # is 19886 in both California and Michigan locations. This is also the suite # associated with parent company Chenal Media, but it only shows up if you look at a cache of chenalmedia.com. (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:4_lK8y9I6noJ:chenalmedia.com/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us)

    Amusingly, Total S.A.'s legal page says, "If you wish to create a hypertext link to this Web site, you must obtain prior written authorisation from the Company using the contact details stipulated at the end of this document." Right. Good luck enforcing that.

    Anyway, as was mentioned previously, the Chenal Media website is actually the Total S.A website. Check the source code of the page (view-source:http://chenalmedia.com/). It redirects to http://total.com/en. So does http://www.chenalco.com/

    Total S.A. is a french oil and gas company. So is Chenal Media pretending to be Total S.A., did somebody buy their website and redirect it, or did Total S.A. buy those websites and redirect them in order to [insert complicated and opaque justification].

    They also have a ChenalCorp.com website, but it will not pull up. The cached version doesn't have much information. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:l_kjzd5dcSoJ:chenalcorp.com/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    Is it possible that this is a money-laundering operation? What would explain the almost invisible, or possibly non-existent, employees/executives and unusual operations other than something shady?

  104. SJD says:

    Not too much info, but anyway: I followed @kleargear on Twitter, and they did not ban me when they locked up. They did not tweet from February (or deleted recent tweets), and made one short conversation last week.

  105. Aaron says:

    Has anyone tried contacting KlearGear at the listenup@kleargear.com email address they mention in the conversation SJD links to just above this comment?

  106. SarahW says:

    The "Tom R… mentioned in an above post" and profiled here http://www.slated.com/people/13599/ showing relationships to Chenal is Tom Riskin of Inhaniel mentioned here http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/prnewswire/search?q=Tom+Chenal

    as a Chenal investor.

    Only, the picture, it's stolen – It belongs to a Wikipedia listed professor.

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Remele

  107. SarahW says:

    My comment is in moderation, I hope the links just shuffled it off into the spam box and it contains no offending content.

  108. SarahW says:

    The Megan T… profile pic (Megan Torcher) is also apparently lifted. It's a picture of this German businesswoman:

    http://www.pfandbriefbank.com/en/the-company/management/manuela-better.html

  109. patricko says:

    2 things: 1) is a company allowed to take away the 1st amendment of their customers? I know that they are allowed to for their workers, but customers?

    2) is a company allowed to institute a fine to a customer? I thought only the courts were able to institute a fine.

  110. Jon says:

    And of course, the photo of Kurt Remele is licensed CC-BY-SA-3.0, which means using it without attribution is illegal. The banker's photo is apparently copyrighted as well, though it's a bit less clear.

    Report of improper photo use on its way to Slated now.

  111. SarahW says:

    It's a violation of the Slated TOS, (participants must upload a real picture of themselves); to create an account, a photo is mandatory. No account is created without uploading a picture. I guess they took a shortcuts.

  112. mark says:

    owners operators should published and company shut down

  113. AlphaCentauri says:

    KleerGear's phone number, (616) 965-2426, is on Broadvox, which provides multiple business services including the ability for a company anywhere in the world to have a US phone number.

  114. AlphaCentauri says:

    The fake photos raise a question — It is theoretically possible there is no one named "Will Bermender," "Lee Gersten," "Randall Prescott," "Rob Key," or "Megan Tolcher" actually associated with this company. If someone is uploading fake photos to represent those names, it's possible the identities were stolen, too.

  115. There's a new Facebook page up, but my guess is it's not authorized since it's all negative comments and they're not being screened like before. https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=175099796030440&__user=509932815

  116. Seth says:

    Kleargear's website has a "Truste" seal which isn't a link. (I checked, Avis's is a link back to privacy.truste.com). It also claims 5 stars from etailerratings, which doesn't appear to have much existence. I don't see a BBB rating there. They also claim some certifications that don't appear to be links.

  117. Cassandra says:

    This company is ridiculous!!

    Instead of commenting on their Facebook page where they will just delete it. Create a post on your page with a link to their page asking everyone to spread the word not to use this company & why. They can not delete a comment on your page!

    Here is the link to their FB page. Copy it and post it in a comment on your page and share, share, share. There is nothing like word of month advertisement!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kleargear/175099796030440

  118. Jon says:

    Slated responded to me and said they would look into the photo issue "in the morning" (which it is just now becoming here on the Left Coast, where I assume they are based).

  119. Karen says:

    @sarahw
    Wow, great detective work! How did you trace those photos?

    I guess we can conclude that Chenal is for sure a fake company and being the parent company to Kleargear, it too is fake. Perhaps Kleargear is one of these internet sites set up for the sole purpose of stealing identities.

  120. That Anonymous Coward says:

    @Karen – I would guess that the photos were fed to Google image search or TinEye image search.
    Being able to search the web for images is a useful tool.
    You can even sometimes toss it cropped photos to find full versions.

  121. Richard says:

    Fraudulent companies will always be fraudulent. What should be more concerning is that it seems the Palmers seem to be applying to have the credit agency note removed "again" which implies the credit agencies investigated and thought this was perfectly fine.

  122. These guys remind me of an online merchant called Primotronix I recently had the misfortune of dealing with, who enjoy not shipping products and then blackmailing customers (first they offered a free warranty if I removed my negative review, which I refused – later on, they said they would delay my refund unless I removed my negative review).

    Here's the secret to every company looking to improve their online reputation: worry about the reviews that haven't been written yet, not the ones that have. Provide good service. You can't change history.

  123. b1FF says:

    Messages posted by Havacodirect on Freelancer.com:

    http://www.freelancer.com/projects/Legal-Advice/Attorney-Zhongshan-China.html

    Project Description:
    This project is to resolve a minor dispute, by telephone with a brief written follow-up letter, with a vendor located in Nanlang Town, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, China. The bid for this project is 30 minutes of time.

    We have several vendors in the Guangdong area, so there will be an opportunity to provide legal services (contract related) on an ongoing basis.

    Must be a licensed lawyer in China and located in any permissible province

    ——

    http://www.freelancer.com/projects/SEO-SEM-Adwords/Write-Post-Reviews.html

    Project Description:
    This project is to write and post 10 reviews on R E S E L L E R R A T I N G S .COM.

    Each review must be:

    * 25-125 words on the company and/or products purchased.

    * For a different order number (will be provided).

    * From a different e-mail addresses. This site will send a request to verify before displaying the review.

    * Posted from a different IP address.

    * Written in grammatically correct English with proper spelling.

    The domain name for the site to be reviewed will be provided to the selected provider. The site is a general-interest e-commerce site with no mature content.

    ——

    http://www.freelancer.com/projects/Data-Processing/Fresh-Email-Accounts-Needed.html

    Project Description:
    We need 240 email addresses to be made.

    They must all be of a variation of gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail (80 each).

    Each email account needs to be created on a unique IP – prefer iprental.com NO USA IP/Proxy used twice!

    Each account should be created in such a way so that they are not going to be banned. We are going to use them for long term.

    They must be virgin accounts, unused for signing up with any other services.

    [....snip....]

    ——

    http://www.freelancer.com/projects/PHP-Perl/Information-Predator.html

    Project Description:
    We need a common information predator script that is configured to gather information for us (product name, description, options, weight, manufacturer sku) and product photographs from one or two websites that we specify.

    [...snip...]

    ——

    http://www.freelancer.com/projects/PHP-MySQL/Backorder-Project-Phase.1922511.html

    Project Description:
    Project specifications are attached.
    Timeline: 5 business days.
    Questions should be e-mailed to Will Bermender, who is available between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm Monday – Friday (Eastern Standard Time).

    ==============================

    There may be more of these posts. I did not take a look at all results for this Google search.

  124. Chris says:

    Maybe I missed something, but don't you pay with paypal specifically to stop businesses from being able to access personal information? Like both of these people's Social Security Numbers?

    Unless both victims' signed a credit check waiver, I see no legal means of that company obtaining that information.

    Then again, maybe I'm missing something.

  125. Karen says:

    @That Anonymous Coward
    Thank you. I didn't know you could do a reverse photo search. Very useful!

  126. Karen says:

    @b1FF

    Wow, very interesting findings. So Kleargear fines their customers $3,500 for writing real reviews, yet they pay contractors for fake reviews. Can't wait to see the glowing fake reviews on resellerratings.com. I wonder what Will Bermender is up to with the predator code?

  127. Flip says:

    @karen

    The predator code sounds like something you'd use to copy product information from retailer websites. Something you'd most likely use if you didn't actually have stock of your own and wanted to look like you do. (assuming they were legit, they could easily ask for a copy of such data from their manufacturer and so there would be no need to go and copy it from random websites)

  128. Karen says:

    @Flip
    Thank you for the reply. I wonder if law enforcement is looking at Will Bermender.

  129. paul says:

    So if the pictures are fakes, can we figure it's possible that pretty much all the names of anyone prominent listed as investors or associates etc are also false?

    The only thing arguing against the series of sites/companies being a front for even more unlawful activity is that usually when you're operating a front you try to keep a low profile. If they are operating other enterprises they'd rather not reveal, then stupidly going after former "customers" would be incredibly costly.

  130. Jim Crider says:

    Because of the oddball suite number in the Grandville, Michigan address, and knowing Grandville isn't known for its skyscrapers, I suspected a mailbox drop — like a UPS Store (nee Mailboxes Etc.) and did some searching. Paydirt:

    http://goo.gl/maps/Qw9Jd This is the Sanford Ave SW address in Grandville, MI (outside Grand Rapids) for some of the KlearGear listings.

    If you take a look at the building, the partial list of businesses at that address is more than could physically fit in the building… but if you look at the list, you'll see "Mailbox Forwarding, Inc." among them. Also, the amusingly-named PostaDeadbeat.com and the deceptively-named PetcoMart Pet Supplies Online Superstore (mushing, of course, national chains Petco and Petsmart together…).

    Basically, looks like a warehouse/mail drop setup for a number of questionable businesses and maybe one or two legit ones.

  131. flip says:

    @Karen

    You're welcome. And I hope some sort of investigation is being done. They're tactics smell more and more dodgy as the days go by.

  132. Josh says:

    Here is Will Bermender's Google+ profile with details on his work background:
    https://plus.google.com/111039109253111173991/about

  133. SM says:

    Matt is semi-correct. A non-material breach by one side does not an excuse non performance. A material breach however is. Also, a contract that does not mutually oblige both parties is void as a matter of law. For example…"You agree to give me your car and I agree to give you $500 if I feel like it" is void because it obligates you but it does not obligate me (I only have to give you $500 if I feel like it). The contract here is such a contract. The customer has to keep their end of the bargain but not the company.

  134. Adrian says:

    I've always assumed collection agencies are only to be used for certain kinds of debt such as credit cards and loans. Is that not the case? If an online merchant can do this, what is to stop any other business from ruining a person's credit by claiming arbitrary amounts as debt?

    It shouldn't be this easy to negatively impact a person's credit. Perhaps there needs to be more stringent regulation of collection agencies and the companies that use them?

  135. john says:

    I wonder why Bermender's Google resume doesn't list his movie work? http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075895/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

    Their address has changed again to a building with a post office (2939 Wilson Ave SW Grandville, MI 49418-3502)

    Has anyone checked out the mail forwarding company at their previous address? Since the suite was the same in Michigan and Texas and it's a assigned number like a p.o. box, it seems likely both are related and then because of that coincidence, I would guess both may be owned by the same people as Kleargear.

  136. john says:

    Wow. Looking at the freelancer listings from above and it's not only looking completely like a scam, but it's looking like an international money laundering mechanism.

    Is homeland security looking into this? This could be terrorist funding.

  137. Eric says:

    I think it's going to work out Karma wise. They are going to lose business from this. They are going to lose endorsements from this and they now have a lawsuit to defend. Now for the rest of time, anytime someone wants to google kleargear to check them out, ALL they will see is this stuff about their rip-off attempt.

  138. Common Law says:

    Lack of scienter so not civil fraud and definitely not criminal. Negligent misrepresentation possibly libel.

  139. don says:

    I'm a lawyer who specializes in tech law. First, it's obvious that Kleargear (KG) either had no legal advice or woefully bad legal advice when it inserted the non-disparagement clause into its ToS. Let's put aside KG's incredibly poor, if not asinine, business judgment in pursuing this customer, especially if the non-disparagement clause was added after she purchased her items and posted the critical review. That alone is enough to sink KG's ship from a legal point of view–Public Citizen will prevail by virtue of that alone. Some have raised the 1st Amendment as an issue here. It's not. The 1st Amendment applies to government action. People can and do agree to many types of confidentiality restrictions via contracts all the time and these restrictions are enforceable when done properly. Some have raised the issue of a fine. Fines and other types of penalties are not enforceable under US contract law. But here Kleargear tried to be clever and say they were actually billing in advance for legal fees. Assuming a valid contract exists, that would be an aggressive argument and KG would have an uphill battle to get a court to enforce a "legal fees paid in advance" provision. Finally, let's talk about the enforceability of the ToS as a binding contract. Depending on the site, the ToS can be a browse-thru agreement or a click-through agreement. Courts have held that both of these can be binding within limits. The devil's in the details. The court will look to the reasonableness of the provisions and whether and to what extent that the user was informed of the provisions. In drafting ToS, we need to strike a balance or risk having it thrown out completely. This is why the most aggressive ToS (think Apple, Google or Facebook) require a user to actually accept ToS. Some sites even require a user to scroll thru the ToS before accepting. This is to give the site a basis on which to argue that the user had notice of the provisions. In KG's case, the provision appears to have been part of the terms of purchase that a user accepted when purchasing from KG. Most courts will enforce these as long as the provisions are reasonable. I would argue that a non-disparagement clause is both uncommon and unreasonable (a purchaser would not expect such a clause). As such, KG will have an uphill battle enforcing that clause. Again, this puts aside the business argument that enforcing a non-disparagement clause is never advisable. If a clause's validity is questionable, and if applying it is counterproductive, then why put it in at all? There are so many ways that KG messed up here and why anyone would do business with them is beyond me. If people are concerned about the customer(s) prevailing, the odds are very much in their favor in this case. The nested companies suggest some financial shenanigans may be going on, so whether the company has assets to allow for a recovery of damages is a separate issue. Hope this helps the understanding a bit and hopefully word will get out to bring the whole house down and put these guys out of business for good.

  140. Stoat says:

    Just for tracking purposes: the fake photos are still up at Slated.com

  141. will says:

    what happen to the 1st amendment. anyone who purchases from this company is an idiot. might as well pay $3500 for whatever you want. hope this company goes broke. time to change your name or sue everyone to get some more money.

  142. Wiglaf Wizzlesnap says:

    I believe the word you're looking for is immoral, not amoral.

  143. Seth says:

    The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law…" It doesn't say "idiot company can't sue".

  144. JustMeee says:

    Should the credit reporting agency have any responsibility here? Shouldn't they have it proven to them that a debt was incurred before someone can report it delinquent?

  145. Ever says:

    What if they purposely provide bad service and no product deliveries to attract bad reviews and then extort the reviewer.

  146. jo says:

    Hahahahaha. Looking at the archived website:

    Klear Gear charges a $50.00 Dispute Fee per above-described Dispute should KlearGear.com not be given an opportunity to resolve any dispute as provided in this section, and the offending customer's personal information (with the exception of sensitive payment method details) will be provided to BadCustomer.com to limit the customer's ability to purchase from other retailers and service providers. The Dispute Fee is not refundable, even if Klear Gear wins your dispute or if you later cancel your dispute. By making a purchase through KlearGear.com you expressly authorize KlearGear.com to charge to the credit card you have provided to purchase the goods or services in dispute.

    And then you read about BadCustomer.com … at this point, they actually are the worst internet retailer I've ever seen.

  147. Kaley says:

    Is William Franklin Bermender the same actor William Franklin Bermender whose last acting job was in 1993 and just seemed to stop acting go to IMDB.com and type in William Franklin Bermender it doesn't have a picture by the information in the bio suggest it's the same guy or at least someone stealing the information from IMDB.com to pretend to be him but I'm thinking it's the same person sad he went from being an actor to an con artist he could have made a name for himself.

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