There’s a great ar­ti­cle mak­ing its round in the me­dia to­day:

KlearGear.com: 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 :)