KlearGear Revamps Website; New Address Traces Back To Scammy Penny Auction Site

from the coincidence-or-something-nastier? dept

KlearGear is on the move! Not content to simply dodge judgments against it by pretending to be a French corporation rather than the variety of remailers it appears to be, KlearGear has revamped its website and given itself a brand new address.

Gone are the legal threats claiming it has the "right" to charge customers $3,500 for bad reviews. Also gone are the claims that it will fight every chargeback to the death with a variety of tactics including reporting unhappy customers to a scam site shut down by the Federal Trade Commission and an ever-escalating number of punitive charges.

KlearGear's subtly updated site now shows the following as its new address.

427 North Tatnall Street
Wilmington, Delaware 19801-2230
KlearGear used to be "located" at a strip of nondescript warehouses in Grandville, Michigan. But that's all in the past now. The new KlearGear is nominally a Delaware corporation, one that shares its address with yet another scammy business, penny auction site Zbiddy, which boasts an absolutely gaudy 424 customer complaints over the last three years.

Zbiddy seems to have nearly as many pissed-off customers as KlearGear. Winning bidders report their items never arrived. Many more complaints call out the company for charging their credit cards $60-99 immediately after registration, without them ever placing a bid or winning an auction. Like other equally abysmal auction sites, Zbiddy lures people in with the chance to obtain stuff for low, low prices. And like other auction sites, it requires a credit card before a potential bidder can do anything. And (again) like equally shady sites, Zbiddy sells packages of bids, without which bidders can't even participate in auctions.

And, like KlearGear, customer service is nearly nonexistent and many, many people have complained about spending money but receiving nothing in return. At this point, Zbiddy's reputation is so thoroughly trashed that it has sought to hide its name behind a slightly less sketchy penny auction site, BeezId.

It appears that whoever actually runs KlearGear (whether it's Havaco Direct, Chenal Media or French company Descoteaux Boutiques) may have a fistful of scammy companies under his purview -- or at least has the dubious fortune of choosing the same remailer address as Zbiddy. KlearGear may be completely unrelated to Zbiddy, but customers of both suffer from the same form of abuse: not receiving the products they've paid for.

Various attempts have been made to scrub KlearGear's reputation since news of its $3,500 bad review fee surfaced. A very thorough expose of KlearGear's many corporate figureheads posted at RipOff Report notes that someone using the account "Havaco Direct" attempted to hire a freelancer to crank out 10 glowing reviews (all from separate email/IP addresses) and post them at ResellerRatings.com. (A 2011 request from Havaco Direct asks for the generation of 240 unique email addresses created by 240 unique IP addresses -- itself more than a little shady.) A quick scan of ResellerRating reviews pre-dating 2013's Streisanding shows KlearGear's inability to fulfill orders has been a problem (or not, if you're just running a scam) since day one.

Also of interest are recent DMCA takedown notices sent by a supposed representative of KlearGear with the made-up-on-the-spot name of "Consumer Guardian." Since the beginning of this month, it has sent out three notices to Google asking for the delisting of the expansive Ripoff Report noted above, further research into the company's inner workings by a blogger at Blagnet and Ken White's post at Popehat. So far, every request has been turned down. Searching for "Consumer Guardian" gets you the metaphoric phone book, which is presumably the impetus behind the bland name currently abusing the DMCA system.

Other findings:

1. The supposed address of Descoteaux Boutiques is also found on KlearGear's website. However, that address links back to an outsourcing firm (7-Conseil), one that also seems incredibly light on verifiable details. Who's behind it isn't exactly clear, but nowhere in the details will you find Vic Mathieu or the supposed company he claims owns KlearGear.

2. Placing an order with KlearGear now routes you through Yahoo!. On the shopping cart pages, one of KlearGear's lies resurfaces.

KlearGear very definitely does not have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau "as of 8/23/14." (This is a very recent update. The sitemap xml shows every page was last updated on 8/22.) Western Michigan's BBB notes that KlearGear isn't even accredited, thanks to its earlier false claims about its BBB rating. San Antonio's BBB (dating back to when KlearGear pretended to be located there) has very generously given KlearGear a "no rating." Delaware's BBB doesn't even have KlearGear listed at its fake local address. So, once again, KlearGear is lying about its rating, but it's hiding it from its critics and using it during the ordering process to give potential customers the completely false assurance that it's a trustworthy company.

3. KlearGear is hiring. And the email address to contact is wow@kleargear.com, which also doubles as its "Customer Care Center" email address, so don't expect to hear back on your application any time soon.

KlearGear -- whoever's actually behind it -- still owes the couple, whose credit it wrecked, over $300,000. But it appears it's well-practiced in the art of hiding behind meaningless names, nonexistent media contact people and a host of shell companies that exist solely as mailboxes. 7-Conseils, the French company that is actually registered at the address listed on KlearGear's site, has been in existence since 2008, but its website still claims to be under construction. The longer-running Chenal name also has a bare-bones website and a bogus address. Vic Mathieu's grandstanding at Ars Technica did little more than show that whoever are running the shop (and whatever their actual names are), have nothing but contempt for every person they've screwed. KlearGear may not be associated with the scammy Zbiddy, but both entities deploy the same tactics (bogus charges, confrontational response to criticism) and have the same abysmal customer service record. What may look like nothing but a coincidence may actually be just another shady operation by the crooked braintrust behind KlearGear.

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  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 25 Aug 2014 @ 8:48pm

    You do understand of course that the address is just basically a mail dump and "physical address" for hundreds if not thousands of LLCs created in Delaware, right?

    (and before the trolls come in, I am not defending Kleangear, they look pretty shady... I am only pointing out that there are many, many LLCs with the same address, it seems pretty common. A simple Google search will show you.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 25 Aug 2014 @ 9:01pm


      The article seems to be less focused on the address change, and more a re-hashing of the shenanigans covering the company in general, with a mention that their company fits right in with their new 'neighbor'.

      And really, they are all sorts of sleaze and scum, the more people are reminded of this, hopefully in time to prevent them from having anything to do with the company, the better.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 25 Aug 2014 @ 10:26pm

        Re: Re:

        I agree. However, the initial part of the article is all about the address, and leaves the impression that this company and others are somehow related, when it looks way more like an incorporation mill mail drop. Much of the article is spent talking about Zbiddy, even through there is no relationship defined past the same mail drop address.

        The summary that they may not be related but both use scammy tactics is nice. I just don't see anything here that connects them at all, or to other companies such as Halo Beverages, Marathon Bar Corp, Lipocine Inc, Agile Media, Athletic Greens, and so on.

        Delaware is the home of the corporate mills, because "A Delaware LLC is tax-free, except for a $250 annual franchise tax". So everyone and their dog who wants to avoid tax and liability is going to be there, scummy or not.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Ninja (profile), 26 Aug 2014 @ 3:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          This is actually an issue for further discussion. Sure companies can share a physical address but if this is being used to conceal (or try to) scammy, fraudulent activity then this needs to be addressed more carefully. I'm not sure how to solve the problem though.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 26 Aug 2014 @ 4:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The issue isn't so much address, as much as Delaware's very lax and wide open incorporation laws, which basically make it a tax haven while also giving high protection to owner privacy. With no real residency requirement, many corporations (including many public companies) are Delaware corporations to reap these benefits.

            The results are incorporation mills, run by lawyers, notaries, and accountants who will give you the address and handle your mail for a fee, provided you incorporate through their services.

            So for the moment, there is no way to draw any conclusion based on an address alone.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 26 Aug 2014 @ 4:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Perhaps an actual, physical presence of the company could be required, involving a certain number of employees at the location for it to count?

            If, as Whatever notes, the idea is to dodge taxes, I doubt this would stop them from just hiring random people to go to 'work' at the building, but at least it would make it more difficult, and less easy for a shell company or similar to just 'rent' a closet and get all the benefits of being based in the state, without actually having to set foot there first.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Whatever (profile), 26 Aug 2014 @ 8:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              There is the tax issue, PLUS the extreme limits on personal liability for company directors / owners. Delaware is a great place to put a business and make the owners just about lawsuit proof.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Aug 2014 @ 1:11am

    Gee paypal will take your money if your business plan on a crowdfunding website doesn't meet their approval, if a Congresscritter makes threats he can't back up, and just because they can...
    One would think with a valid judgement one might be able to pry loose a couple leads and some of the cash they have been holding.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2014 @ 1:18am

    "...whoever are running the shop (and whatever their actual names are), have nothing but contempt for every person they've screwed. KlearGear may not be associated with the scammy Zbiddy, but both entities deploy the same tactics (bogus charges, confrontational response to criticism) and have the same abysmal customer service record."

    They haven't got an address in Ferguson, MO. aswell have they?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave W (profile), 26 Aug 2014 @ 4:37am

    I would love to see this end with Kleargear being one of Prenda's shell corporations.

    Nice and neat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2014 @ 4:28pm

    Someone should report them to Yahoo! Small Business Web Hosting. smallbusiness.yahoo.com I used to work for them in support and if I knew about this at the time I would have attempted to have them taken down.

    Though I'd have to re-read the ToS to see if they're violating any of those terms. Though for the sheer sake of associated reputation they may consider telling them to find another host.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2014 @ 7:53am

    Piercing the corporate veil

    I know what I am about to propose conflates civil/criminal responsibilities. I know tracing through shell companies can be hard if they are incorporated in tight-lipped jurisdictions. Those disclaimers aside, I find it disgusting that the U.S. Federal government has time to invent criminal plots (FBI), take down legal domains (ICE), etc., but cannot spare any resources to enforce a judgement handed down by one of its own courts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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