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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.