There’s a great article making its round in the media today: Woman Hit With $3,500 Fine And Bad Credit Score After Writing Negative Review Of Online Retailer

Here’s the story in short. A company gave shitty service. The client wrote a negative review on — a classic! — RipOffReports. The company then invented a fine for them (per small writing in a the terms & conditions the client never read), which went right to a debt collection agency — and BAM, their credit score is dinged.

Lots going on here. Where to start?

First: The companies will be ugly with you. Lets just admit it right up front. So you need to be prepared. Read the small print.

Second: a great defense? Get everything in writing. Everything. Documentation is next to Godliness.

Third: you (companies!) can do the same — albeit more honestly, fairly and nicely. This company gave crappy customer service — and you shouldn’t. Obviously give good service! But you can also put in little terms that they won’t read, that you can use to your advantage if they turn out to be obnoxious. (This isn’t a defense of KlearGear — they clearly didn’t deliver and did a bad job!)

Fourth: great idea to just send a bill right to a debt collection agency. BAM. They’re the experts on dinging people who try to ding you. Noted. Adding it to my repertoire right now :)