WARD THOMAS FRANKLIN
Think of WTF University as the fictitious online equivalent to Animal House’s Faber College (whose motto was “Knowledge is Good”), specializing in the study of self-inflicted cyber wounds. (“SICWs”)
Over the past few years we have seen some remarkable SICWs such as:
- Charles Carreon who in 2011 became the laughing stock of the internet after he took on The Oatmeal who in turn used Carreon’s threat to raise $220,024 and then sent Carreon photographs of the cash spelling out “philanthropy > douchebaggery.” slong with a cartoon of a Kodiak bear defiling Carreeon’s mother.
- In 2013, there was Taylor Chapman who posted a racist rant of her complaining about not getting a receipt from Dunkin’ Donuts that led to her being an internet pariah and losing her spokesperson gig while the employees who endured her extreme bitchdom received a bonus as result.
Meet the 2014 WTF University honorary degree recipient – Kleargear.com.
- In 2008, Jen Palmer ordered gifts online from KlearGear only to have the order cancelled when she called customer service. When Palmer posted a negative review online, KlearGer invoked the following cause from it terms and conditions and reported Palmer to credit reporting agencies when she did not pay the $3,500
In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.
Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.
One minor detail they overlooked – the term was not in place when Palmer made this order. Palmer has since sued the site for $75,000,
Kleargear’s overreach has become a lesson in how to ruin your online reputation in the age of social media. As reported by Popehat:
From this point forward, due to nothing but its own arrogance, vanity, pettiness and manifest corporate stupidity, KlearGear is synonymous with douchebaggery. . . . Now let’s look at this situation from a perspective most charitable to KlearGear. . . . . Here’s what the company should have done: Suck it up. Yes — it should try to give Jen and John customer satisfaction, and work on its CRM capabilities to minimize the number of future Jens and Johns. But even if they were demonstrably in the wrong, just chalk it up to isolated unfairness and move on.
Here’s what KlearGear should not have done: try to bully them into submission. Because, duh — there was zero to be gained and everything to lose. In the social-media age, nobody — not e-tailers, not governments, not Vaticans — can suppress speech without backlash exponentially more damaging than the offending speech itself. In the long run, this will be the ruination of the regimes ruling North Korea, Iran and China. In the short run, it will be the ruination of KlearGear.
More Information: The Oatmeal-Funny Junk Legal Dispute, Wikipedia, Taylor Chapman fired: Dunkin’ Donuts rant video creator loses promotion gig, The Examiner; KlearGear Reaps The Whirlwind, Popehat.