• Report: #1100482

Complaint Review: EXPOSED: Kleargear.com Ripoff the inside story William Bermender, Han Reinett, Tom Rifkin, iHaniel, Havaco Direct, Badcustomer.com Jen Palmer

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  • Submitted: Mon, November 18, 2013
  • Updated: Wed, November 20, 2013

  • Reported By: Troll Hunter — California
EXPOSED: Kleargear.com Ripoff the inside story William Bermender, Han Reinett, Tom Rifkin, iHaniel, Havaco Direct, Badcustomer.com Jen Palmer
Internet USA

EXPOSED: Kleargear.com Ripoff the inside story William Bermender, Han Reinett, Tom Rifkin, iHaniel, Havaco Direct, Badcustomer.com Jen Palmer Free Speech 3500, concealment by Chenal Media, ASSET FREEZE, badcustomer.com Internet

*Consumer Comment: Frederick,

*Consumer Comment: Alleged Extortion The Wave of the Future?

*Consumer Comment: Troll Hunter,

*Author of original report: Consumer Fined For Negative Review Owned By Chenal Media Stolen Identies of Faux Executives Kleargear.com Ripoff

*Author of original report: Kleargear.com Parent Company Chenal Brands Appears To Have Stolen The Identities of Tom Riskin and Manuela Better?

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By Julie J. Arnez––

Over the last several days, the company Kleargear.com aka Chenal Media has become a glowing target on our radar screen that tracks “trouble and deception” on the internet. The Kleargear, located in California and Michigan initially got our attention from insiders who had been reporting Kleargear and its owners William Bermender, Tom Rifkin and Han Reinelt had been screwing consumers for years.  When they were placed on Ripoff Report they knew the gig was up and soon their actions, would warrant a full scale investigation by government agencies.

Shortly after reviewing numerous public internet postings we were given an inside tip by two disgruntled investors regarding a news broadcast that they stated; “seemed very odd, to say the least”.

 

The news broadcast claimed; "A Consumer Fined For Posting a Negative Review Online” which was apparently fact checked by KUTV and investigative reporter, Matt Gephardt.

According to the story, Kleargear.com had a new way of silencing critics (previously they used another tactic against consumers – more on that later)  they story also claimed wildly successful consumer advocacy website Ripoff Report wanted $2,000 to remove a consumer report. This sent our research department reeling, because they had already verified that Ripoff Report has spent millions in legal fees (being sued more than 80 times to try and force Ripoff Report to remove reports) there is no way Ripoff Report would take $2,000 or any amount of money to remove a Ripoff Report and Ripoff Report went on the record saying they do not want consumers to get into a situation of being threatened by big business into removing their Report, scaring them with a lawsuit, which would result in other unsuspecting consumers getting ripped off again by the same business.

Hint: this is where it starts getting really interesting.

According to the Internet Archive ‘The Way Back Machine’, the clause mentioned in the news story didn't even exist when Jen Palmer ordered from KlearGear. That suggests that KlearGear made a demand for money to Jen Palmer based on a contract she never signed

THERE’S A WORD FOR THAT FRAUD

When companies attempt to enforce bizarre hidden clauses in form contracts — its called "contracts of adhesion" — But a lawsuit isn't at the heart of KlearGear's despicable tactic. Ruining the credit of its critics is:

KlearGear asserts falsely that someone accepted a contractual term, and asserts a debt based on that false statement, and reports that debt to credit agencies, that's fraud. It's not just a civil wrong, it's a crime.

Tried and True Reference Checking––Telephone, Email and Shoe Leather

We contacted several former Kleargear, Chenal Media  executives through email, telephone calls and lunch meetings to get a clear picture of how this scheme worked. We interviewed people who were with the company at its inception.  In fact, not one past employee had anything good to say about Harold W Bermender AKA William Franklin Bermender,Kleargear, Chenel Media, iHaniel, Havaco Direct, Tom Rifkin, or Han Reinett.

Up until recently Kleargear.com had  a "Chargeback and Dispute Policy" clause where they would fine you $550, send you to a collections agency, and add you to the badcustomers.com blacklist (since shutdown as a scam by the FTC in 2011) if you attempted to get your credit card to stop payment on an item in dispute. The badcustomers.com threat was in the T&C as recently as August 2013, even though the site hasn't existed for 2 years.

SNAKE EYES

Kleargear's Suite # is 19886 in both California and Michigan locations. This is also the suite # associated with parent company Chenal Media, but it only shows up if you look at a cache of chenalmedia.com. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:4_lK8y9I6noJ:chenalmedia.com/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Chenal Media website is actually the Total S.A website. Check the source code of the page (view-source: http://chenalmedia.com/ . It redirects to http://total.com/en So does  http://www.chenalco.com

Total S.A. is a french oil and gas company. So is Chenal Media pretending to be Total S.A., did somebody buy their website and redirect it, or did Total S.A. buy those websites and redirect them in order to [obfuscate the truth of Chenal Media?]

They also have a ChenalCorp.com website, but it will not pull up. The cached version doesn't have much information. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:l_kjzd5dcSoJ:chenalcorp.com/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Is it possible that this is a money-laundering operation? What would explain the almost invisible, or possibly non-existent, employees/executives and unusual operations other than something shady?

The many live of William Franklin Bermender

So, what started as a basic investigation into Kleargears credentials quickly heated up when it was revealed that they recently raised $7 million yet customers had been threatened for years with retaliation when the products they ordered never arrived.

When I visited their homepage for the first time, it struck me that TRUSTe would certify a shop with such awful Terms of Service. Turns out they didn't.

  • A source within TRUSTe informs me that genuine seals are clickable links leading to a certification page; this is just an image on KlearGear's page.
  •  KlearGear is not in TRUSTe's searchable database of certified sites.
  •  My source within TRUSTe confirms that KlearGear.com has never been TRUSTe certified.

Kleargear outright lied at their homepage: http://www.truste.com/consumer-privacy/trusted-directory/?radio=url&search=kleargear&submit=Search69

The "5-Star Merchant eTAILERratings" seal on their home page. It's not clickable. When you go to that site and search for kleargear.com, guess what?

They also have a fake BBB rating on their page.

I'm actually wondering, given all the misrepresentation, legally unenforceable policies (such as the $550 disputed charge fee, the bogus non-disclosure "agreement" etc.), the fact that they're not shipping promised goods, etc., if they're even a real business. I'm wondering if the business was set up primarily as a scam, not an e-tailer...

Multiple older press releases list a Will Bermender as the president of KlearGear:

"It's the coolest office toy ever made," said KlearGear.com President and Chief Geek Will Bermender.

"Our new affiliate program is the perfect win-win situation where we can introduce our cutting edge gadgets to new audiences, while also sharing financial rewards with web site owners," said Will Bermender, President at KlearGear.com.

It got even better when one of our investigators sat down for a lunch meeting with a former employee, and not only heard, but got to see the intensity and disgust in their face when asked about Bermender and his shell company companies Klear Gear, Havaco Direct and Chenal Media. They told us Havaco Direct has used the same San Antonio address as William Bermender which they confirmed for showing us the local White Pages. Bermender after being reported on Ripoff Report then relocated to Arkansa with an address located on Chenal Valley Dr, Apt 2304 (no coincidence – Chenal Media & Chenal Brands)

In another phone interview, a warehouse manager for KlearGear said of Bermender; “It was like he was invisible, except for his pathetic penchant for name dropping”. Another sales executive stated; “Bermender was associated with badcustomer.com  tried desperately to get his new con off the ground by bilking investors out of $7 million dollars through Chenal Media.

The LinkedIn page for Will Bermender says he's in LA, so is this the same Will? Well, we do know that Chenal owns KlearGear, but is this the same as Chenal Media? Yes it is!

Will decided to use his gadget gains to break into the Hollywood biz. And all we need to do to confirm that the Chenal Brands and KlearGear/Chenal are the same is check out the name on the bottom of the press release announcing Chenal Media's funding.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chenal-media-secures-7-million-in-expanded-series-b-financing-167305575.html

Secretary of State has a listing for Havaco Direct, Inc. It filed an Application for Certificate of Authority in 2005. It states that Havaco is a DE corp and lists its Director and President as William Bermender. It forfeited its existence in 2007. Yet in 2012 William Bender is on Free Lancer hiring people under Havaco to write fake reviews for Kleargear to try and dilute his victims reports on consumer advocacy websites (see below)

Bermender sent a letter to the Texas Comptroller that is also on file with the Texas Secretary of State. The letter, dated November 2011, states, in short, that Bermender was an outside contractor for Havaco in 2005, but he was never an officer or director ("Apparently, my name erroneously appears in state records for this organization – without my knowledge or consent."). Bermender asks that the Comptroller and SOS remove his name in connection with the company.

Bermender's letterhead contains an email address with @ChenalCo.com

PRESTEO-CHANGEO

Kleargear fines their customers $3,500 for writing real reviews, yet they pay contractors for fake reviews. I wonder how Will Bermender will try to scrub his ads on Freelancer.com?

http://www.freelancer.com/projects/SEO-SEM-Adwords/Write-Post-Reviews.html

Project Description:

This project is to write and post 10 reviews on R E S E L L E R R A T I N G S .COM.

Each review must be:

* 25-125 words on the company and/or products purchased.

* For a different order number (will be provided).

* From a different e-mail addresses. This site will send a request to verify before displaying the review.

* Posted from a different IP address.

* Written in grammatically correct English with proper spelling.

The domain name for the site to be reviewed will be provided to the selected provider. The site is a general-interest e-commerce site with no mature content.

 

http://www.freelancer.com/projects/Data-Processing/Fresh-Email-Accounts-Needed.html

Project Description:

We need 240 email addresses to be made.

They must all be of a variation of gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail (80 each).

Each email account needs to be created on a unique IP – prefer iprental.com NO USA IP/Proxy used twice!

Each account should be created in such a way so that they are not going to be banned. We are going to use them for long term. They must be virgin accounts, unused for signing up with any other services.

Questions should be e-mailed to Will Bermender, who is available between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm Monday – Friday (Eastern Standard Time)

Will Bermender is Chenal Media, Havaco Direct, Kleargear and many other alter egos

Will Bermender – http://www.pinterest.com/kleargear/

Will Bermender, Los Angeles, CA, US, Texas, US – Executive Chairman at Chenal Media, Board …

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/2/928/b67

Will Bermender (peoplesmart)

 Age: 43

 Harold W Bermender, age 43

AKA William Franklin Bermender, W H Bermender, Will Bermender, William W Bermender, W Bermender Has lived in San Antonio TX, Round Rock TX, Hamden CT, Philadelphia PA, Osseo MN, New Haven CT, Little Rock AR (this is where is apartment was on Chenal the name of Chenal Brands and Chenal Media), Southbury CT

Has Worked for Havaco Direct, Chenal Brands, Haniel Industries ( sold $7 million dollars in fake investments in Chenal Media) , Comcast Corporation, Havaco Direct Inc, Chanal Media, Mix Kicks, Shopscape, ShopNBC, Denmore Garments, Cendant Corporation

 Related to Priscilla Rivera, Sharon Bermender, Lee Bermender, Susan Bermender, Roberto Jimenez

 Fabricated Claims Makes Matt Gephardt and KUTV the Perfect Stooge

In the final analysis, it becomes clear that KUTV failed to do even rudimentary fact-checking. The trouble is, they missed the main story of the tactics of Kleargear, William Bermender. You see, we also learned through numerous interviews and internet postings that the reason Kleargear panicked is they were reported on Ripoff Report. If it were not for Ripoff Report, KUTV would not have had a story.

What started as a basic investigation into Kleargear’s credentials quickly heated up when it was revealed Kleargear.com past, we reached out to Ripoff Report and asked them to enlighten us on KlearGear and Jen Palmer here is their reply:

Ripoffreport.com expresses sympathy, concern, and admiration for Jen Palmer in this situation. Jen stood up and told the world about her problems with customer service from Kleargear.com. That is a service to consumers everywhere. Ripoffreport.com condemns the practice of imposing penalties on consumers who use freedom of speech to warn other consumers.

This situation shows the importance of Ripoffreport.com’s uniform policy to not remove consumer complaints.  Jen Palmer faces tremendous pressure to silence herself by removing the Report. 

Ripoffreport.com will not remove consumer complaints. It was erroneously reported that it would cost Jen Palmer $2,000 to remove her Report about Kleargear.com, because there is no such option.  Ripoff Report does not remove complaints for money.

There is an option to post updates to the report at no charge to anyone. For example, if Kleargear.com reconsiders its decisions, Jen Palmer could post an update to tell other consumers how the situation was resolved. 

This information will remain posted on the internet so that smart consumers can get good information and make informed choices.  $2000 is the cost of Ripoff Report's VIP Arbitration Program - a program that removes only challenged statements of facts in a Report that are found to be to be false after presentation of evidence to an independent arbitrator.  Even in this instance, the report is not removed. Only challenged statements of fact that are found to be false by the arbitrator. Again, to be clear, Ripoff Report will not remove Reports for money and any information to the contrary is not accurate.

This kind of activity by KlearGear.com  is very troubling to Ripoff Report and it looking into the situation and to possibly help Jen Palmer.

If the reported facts are true, it seems very unlikely that the penalty clause imposed by Kleargear.com would be legally enforceable.  And, Kleargear.com could face serious penalties if a civil court found that Jen Palmer’s credit was damaged by inappropriate conduct. Ripoffreport.com is very interested in further developments in this situation.

Ripoff Report has spent millions in legal fees over the years. We have been sued more than 80 times to try and force Ripoff Report to remove reports, spending hundreds of thousands to not remove even one Report, .. there is no way Ripoff Report would take $2,000 or any amount of money to remove a Ripoff Report.  Period.

Even the TV News station left that part out about the $2,000 cost to remove Reports from their news story .. they know better. Jen Palmer just had the wrong information about our policy. 

 


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/18/2013 09:47 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/EXPOSED-Kleargearcom-Ripoff-the-inside-story-William-Bermender-Han-Reinett-Tom-Rifkin-iHaniel-Havaco-Direct-Badcustomercom-Jen-Palmer/internet/EXPOSED-Kleargearcom-Ripoff-the-inside-story-William-Bermender-Han-Reinett-Tom-Rifkin-1100482. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

Click Here to read other Ripoff Reports on EXPOSED: Kleargear.com Ripoff the inside story William Bermender, Han Reinett, Tom Rifkin, iHaniel, Havaco Direct, Badcustomer.com Jen Palmer

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
2Author 3Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Frederick,

AUTHOR: Karl - ()

Opinions can sometimes become facts.

Example: If you type in 271454 at this site and scroll all the way down to the consumer comment that was posted on September 3, 2007 at Ripoff Report #271454 you can read the following:

Quote: "The Collapse of the U.S. economy is in its infancy. Get all of your money out of the stock market and cash in your retirement NOW!"- September 3, 2007

That was an opinion on September 3, 2007. One year later, in September of 2008, it became a fact. On September 29, 2008, the stock market crashed and the banking system and several large Wall Street corporations were on the verge of collapsing and had to be bailed-out by the American people with hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer's money from the TARP. You can 'Google' this- FRONTLINE: INSIDE THE MELTDOWN, and watch that documentary on the web for proof.

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#2 Consumer Comment

Alleged Extortion The Wave of the Future?

AUTHOR: Frederick - ()

One of the problems I see here is that if this apparently (in my opinion) extortionist "company" is permitted to get away with committing this possible crime against its unwitting customers, other perpetrators will see dollar signs and jump on to the band-wagon and do likewise.

I would suggest that victims contact the FBI first, file a report  (http://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/)  The FBI will only look at a possible criminal case if the damage is $10,000 or more per victim, and even then the FBI must take the issue to their DA who then decides whether to instigate formal criminal procedings, yet the alleged extortion per victim of this extant "company" falls short of the $10,000 "go" value so the FBI in most cases will suggest that the alleged crime is a civil matter. Thing is, the FBI compiles statistics and reports on *modes* of racketeering so it is always useful to send the FBI reports on such alleged activities.

This forces victims to file civil charges which must run through the courts and cost victims more than the alleged extortion dollar value. At the same time the alleged criminals are filing RICO predicate act lawsuits against its victims to abuse the legal system in to committing its alleged extortion for them. This prompts the need to create a Class Action lawsuit to stop the alleged extortion, recover fees, and punish or dismantle the "company" to make it stop.

How filthy. It leaves me wondering whether the individual running this "company" is associated with Scientology.

My opinions only, of course, and only my opinions.

 

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#3 Consumer Comment

Troll Hunter,

AUTHOR: Karl - ()

I believe that exposing your Ripoff Report on the worldwide web was a good idea. A Harvard Business Professor told his class of executives in late 2004 that exposure is a corporation's worst fear. You can type in 269041 at this site and scroll down to the consumer comment entitled "Blame it on a Lawyer" at Ripoff Report #269041 and read more of what the good professor said to his class of executives in late 2004.

Good luck to you, and make sure to expose your Ripoff Report all over the web at sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook every day!

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#4 Author of original report

Consumer Fined For Negative Review Owned By Chenal Media Stolen Identies of Faux Executives Kleargear.com Ripoff

AUTHOR: Troll Hunter - ()

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

Tom Riskin of Inhaniel and listed as a Chenal Media investor is mentioned here:http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/prnewswire/search?q=Tom+Chenal and had created a report profile here http://www.slated.com/people/13599/  The photo listed as Tom Rifkin has been stolen. According to Wikpedia is Professor Kurt Remele and is licensed CC-BY-SA-3.0, which means using it without attribution is illegal.

Megan Torcher another excecutive of Chenal Media and Chenal Brands is another identity created with a stolen photo. The photo of Megan Torcher is actually a picture of German business womam Manuela Better

http://www.pfandbriefbank.com/en/the-company/management/manuela-better.html

KLEARGEAR ABANDONED TRADEMARKS IN 2008

On Friday, July 27, 2007, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for KLEAR GEAR by Havaco Direct, Inc., SAN ANTONIO 78230. The USPTO has given the KLEAR GEAR trademark serial  number of  77240446. By 2008 the federal status of this trademark was ABANDONED-FAILURE TO RESPOND.

http://www.trademarkia.com/klear-gear-77240446.html

 

 

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#5 Author of original report

Kleargear.com Parent Company Chenal Brands Appears To Have Stolen The Identities of Tom Riskin and Manuela Better?

AUTHOR: Troll Hunter - ()

 LATEST DEVELOPMENT

If it looks bad, smells bad it probably is bad.

Tom Riskin is listed as an investor in KlearGears parent company Chenal Brands and profiled here slated.com/people/13599/  showing relationships to Chenal is Tom Riskin of Inhaniel  mentioned as detailed here bizjournals.com/bizjournals/prnewswire/search?q=Tom+Chenal  as a Chenal investor.

The picture being used of Tom Riskin actually belongs to a Wikipedia listed professor, Kurt Remele:

de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Remele the photo of Kurt Remele is licensed CC-BY-SA-3.0, which means using it without attribution is illegal. The banker's photo is apparently copyrighted as well, though it's a bit less clear.

Megan Torcher another executive with Chenal Brands the parent company of KlearGear is also stolen.   It's a picture of  German businesswoman Manuela Better:

pfandbriefbank.com/en/the-company/management/manuela-better

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