Bullied consumer commences legal action
by Carol Thompson
When Cindy Cox, a disabled United States Navy Veteran, ordered an iPhone case from online store Accessory Outlet, she got much more than a case for her phone. She alleges she was bullied.
Now, she is asking the court for a declaratory judgment against the company.
It all began July 6 when Cox, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, ordered a case for her phone for just under $40. When the tracking number Accessory Outlet provided indicated that the order hadn’t shipped after ten days, she tried to cancel the order. Accessory Outlet refused. When Cox said she would contact her credit card company, Accessory Outlet demanded that Cox pay $250 under its “Terms of Sale.” The terms state,“You agree not to file any complaint, chargeback, claim, dispute, or make any public forum post, review, Better Business Bureau complaint, social media post, or any public statement regarding the order, our website, or any issue regarding your order, for any reason, within this 90 day period, or to threaten to do so within the 90 day period, or it is a breach of the terms of sale, creating liability for damages in the amount of $250, plus any additional fees.”
Over the course of two days, the company sent Cox several emails threatening to report the $250 “debt” to credit reporting agencies and thereby to damage Cox’s credit score, according to Public Citizen, who filed the lawsuit on her behalf. Accessory Outlet promised that Cox’s debt “will continue to rise with every email and every second we dedicate to correspondence of any kind pertaining to your breach of the terms of sale.” The company also threatened to refer the “debt” to a collections agency, which Accessory Outlet said would call Cox’s home, cell, and work phones “continuously.” Accessory Outlet told Cox that it had enforced the terms of sale against “many individuals” and that Cox was “playing games with the wrong people and [had] made a very bad mistake.”
Accessory Outlet told Cox that it had enforced the terms of sale against “many individuals” and that Cox was “playing games with the wrong people and [had] made a very bad mistake,” Public Citizen reported.
“Accessory Outlet is using unfair terms hidden in fine print, along with threatening emails, to bully a customer into keeping quiet about her bad experience with the company,” said Scott Michelman, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case. “But terms that prevent a customer from speaking publicly about her transaction and from contacting her credit card company are unreasonable and unenforceable.”
No one could be reached at Assessory Outlet and their website states it is down for maintenance.
The case was filed in the Supreme Court of New York in Manhattan. Daniel E. Clifton of Lewis, Clifton & Nikolaidis, P.C. in New York is co-counsel for Cox. The lawsuit asks the court to declare that Cox does not owe Accessory Outlet a debt because the terms of sale were hidden on its website, are unreasonably favorable to Accessory Outlet and were never presented to or accepted by Cox when she made her purchase.