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Wild Scene at Walmart; Stocks Set to End Moth on a High; Couple Charged for Negative Review: Soldiering on after Combat is Over; Thanksgiving Football Feast

Aired November 29, 2013 - 09:30   ET


BILL SIMON, PRESIDENT & CEO, WALMART: Black Friday, we just talked about it, you know, millions and millions of people out shopping is the big stage and Walmart's a big player on the big stage. And as there are those who want to try to change an industry, a service industry like retail, it's not unexpected that they would be out on Black Friday at Walmart with something to say about that.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: OK, so the protests are set to take place later today. That's sponsored by the unions across the country. This video was separate from that, of course. This was at a store in North Carolina. And you saw the man, he's pushing people aside in order to get a hold of a television set, and apparently it was a really good deal. Now, the man who shot this video out of Elkin, North Carolina, is on the phone with me right now. His name is Brian Good.

Good morning, Brian.

BRIAN SPAIN, CAUGHT WALMART BLACK FRIDAY PUSH (ph) ON VIDEO (via telephone): Hi, how are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good.

So when exactly did this happen?

SPAIN: It was last night about 8:05 p.m.

COSTELLO: Last night?

SPAIN: Yes, it was actually on Thanksgiving night.

COSTELLO: Oh, my goodness. So you were in - you were in the store just shopping yourself?

SPAIN: Actually, no. I'm against shopping on Thanksgiving. I like to make funny videos, so I was going to go in and actually do more of a serious thing about why people were there and how they thought about people having to work on Thanksgiving, but that's when this happened, and I was like, oh this is much better than what I was going to do.

COSTELLO: So describe how this unfolded as you were beginning to shoot this. How did you know that guy was going to go do that? SPAIN: I had no clue. I had the camera up because I saw like before they -- like I don't know how they were wrapped or whatever. It was just a big group of people sitting around. So I was just holding the camera up going, this is kind of crazy. And I kind of started to take the camera down when I heard like, you know, everything going crazy. So I turned it back and just happened to catch this.

COSTELLO: The thing that amazed me in watching this - so he finally gets a hold of his TV, that guy, right, and then he just goes to a checkout line and nobody really says anything to him.

SPAIN: Yes. What made me -- the whole reason that I decided to put the video up originally was just to show Walmart because I was upset. I was filming this because it was crazy and the guy from Walmart (INAUDIBLE) and said I couldn't film in the store. And I said, I understand that. And at the end of the video you hear me saying, like, "oh, OK," and I turned the camera off. And I'm telling him I'm filming some -- this guy attacking people, which after you watch the video more, he - it looks like he might even be trying to save someone else because he already had a TV. I don't know.

COSTELLO: Oh, geez.

SPAIN: But I was like I'm trying to - and let me show you this. And the guy goes, I don't care, you can't film in the store. You'll have to leave. And I said, OK, but you see this. And then when he's like, if you don't leave, I'll have you arrested for trespassing. And that's when I was like, OK, then that's fine and I was like, I'll just send this to your little Walmart people. But I didn't want to put it in like an e-mail. I was like -- because you get the form letter. So I was like, I'll social media it. And then the next thing I know it kind of took off.

COSTELLO: Gotcha. I'm just like - I'm just amazed by your - by your video. And I hear your story about how the Walmart security didn't want you shooting inside their stores. But again, the thing that really amazes me is this guy - I mean you're intimidated when you see something like that as a customer, right? You see this violent guy come and push people aside and you don't quite know what to do. And then he just sort of saunters way.

SPAIN: Yes, it's one of those things you feel kind of helpless and then when you look and you see like there's two officers off to the side that are just kind of like standing there watching all this happen and there's nothing going on, I'm like, I thought they'd be there to help like to make sure this kind of stuff didn't happen. But they just kind of watched it happen. And like that was the thing that was really frustrating. And again why I usually wouldn't shopping on Thanksgiving or like Black Friday is because I've worked retail before and I've seen these kind of things like every year it's something. So - but I was like, oh, I'm going to go in and like, you know, do like a little video and find out why people are here and then this happened.

COSTELLO: All right. Well, Brian Spain, I got your name wrong at first, and I'm sorry about that. Brian Spain, thanks for sharing this with us this morning. We appreciate it. SPAIN: Oh, no problem. Thank you so much for having me.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Brian. Of course we don't have Walmart's side of the story. We don't know exactly what went down in that store from Walmart's perspective. We're efforting that right now.

Short workday on Wall Street, but it looks like it will be a good one. Alison Kosik is in New York to tell us about it.

Good morning.


So, yes, yesterday for Thanksgiving, the markets took a break. The bulls took a break. But now it looks like the bulls are running again. The Dow's up about 30 points. You know, when the bell rang about four minutes ago, the Dow started at a record 16,097. The Nasdaq was sitting at a 13-year high at 4,044. And the S&P 500, that started at a record 1,807. And if you look at history, if that's any indication, this rally, say many, could continue through the end of the year. And you look historically, this period happening between Thanksgiving and New Year's, has shown an average 1.8 percent gain.

But, you know, whatever the case at this point, investors, huh, they've had quite a year so far. Since the beginning of the year, look at the Dow, it's up 23 percent. The Nasdaq up 34 percent. The S&P 500 up 27 percent. Wow, that is some bull run that it's been. Trading, by the way, wraps up at 1:00 p.m. today.


COSTELLO: All right, Alison Kosik reporting live from New York. Thanks so much.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, first she wrote a bad review about a company's bad service. Now the company is charging her $3,500. Is that even possible? Well, it happened. But this woman's fighting back.


COSTELLO: Have you ever been so outraged by bad customer service that you wrote a nasty review about it online? Well, one couple did just that after shopping online in 2008. Years later, they were actually charged $3,500 by the company as a fine for that negative review. Well, the couple refused to pay and now it's hurting their credit score and they're going to take the company to court. CNN's Pamela Brown has more.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Palmer bought a few Christmas gifts for his wife, Jen, on the website in 2008, never imagining he'd still be paying the price five years later. The Palmers say the items they ordered never arrived. The transaction was canceled. JEN PALMER, CHARGED $3,500 FOR POSTING NEGATIVE REVIEW: After 30 days or so, PayPal said, hey, there's no activity here. They turned around and gave the money back into my husband's account and effectively canceled the sale.

BROWN: After repeated calls to Klear Gear to find out what happened, Jen Palmer posted this review of the company on saying in part, "there is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being. No extensions work."

Fast forward three and a half years. The Palmers received this e-mail appearing to be from Klear Gear stating they'd be fined $3,500 if the negative review wasn't taken down in 72 hours.

PALMER: We were shocked that somebody would actually attempt to do this because that's -- it's ridiculous that anybody would turn around and try to extort us like this.

BROWN (on camera): Have you ever heard of anything like that?

HITHA PRABHAKAR, CHIEF RESEARCH OFFICER, HP RETAIL ADVISORY: I've never heard of anything like this happening to the consumers, only because retailers mainly protect the consumer.

BROWN (voice-over): The e-mail cited this obscure non-disparagement clause in the terms of use contract that says, "your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negative impacts" Legal experts warn more and more companies are adding this type of language in the fine print as protection.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The First Amendment does not protect certain kinds of free speech. And you can sign a contract giving away your free speech rights if it's a fair contract. This contract though is not fair and, frankly, it would be thrown out by any court.

BROWN: We found other examples of non-disparagement clauses in customer agreements, including this one from a vacation rental company threatening to charge customers up to $10,000 in damages if a post containing "unreasonable negative sentiment" isn't removed. The company told CNN it "stands by its practice."

The Palmers couldn't take down the review and refused to pay up. Klear Gear apparently then reported the bills as unpaid to a collections company.

PALMER: It was bad enough that when we went to get a second cars, it took them a month to find a bank that was willing to finance us because of the huge ding that this puts on our credit.

BROWN: CNN tried multiple phone numbers listed on Klear Gear's website, all of them disconnected. did respond via e- mail to our affiliate KUTV defending its actions. The Palmers say they're taking their fight all the way to court.

PALMER: We don't want them to get away with this. Apparently we're not the only people that they have done this to. We're just the only ones who are fighting back. And we're not giving up.


BROWN: The Better Business Bureau is now investigating and has put the company on alert. Now, to protect yourself during this busy holiday shopping season, retail analysts suggest that you read all the fine print and make sure a company is legitimate. And if you do write a negative review, make sure that it's accurate because a company can sue you for libel even if it doesn't have that clause.

Back to you.

COSTELLO: That is crazy! OK, so Klear Gear actually defended its actions in a statement. And this is what it says. It was saying its request for the Palmers to take down that cruel comment about their company was not blackmail but, quote, "a diligent effort to help them avoid the fine." I'm sorry. Let's bring in constitutional attorney and criminal defense attorney Page Pate.

I can't believe that this actually happened.

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I understand the company wanting to crack down on people saying bad things about it, but they can't go this far. They can protect themselves against libelous statements, they can prohibit somebody from doing that, they can sue somebody, from they cannot stop somebody from posting a negative comment if it's mostly truthful.

COSTELLO: Yes, and it seems like it was mostly truthful. They never received their goods from the company, right?

PATE: Absolutely. And even though they want to put it in the terms of service in that agreement, that's OK. I mean you can get - you can absolutely still state your mind and voice your opinion about a company because a judge, a court would never enforce that type of clause.

COSTELLO: OK. But the company turned them over to a collection agency. So it doesn't matter what you think as a consumer, you're already hurt by that, you're at the mercy of this company now.

PATE: Right. That's how the company strong arms folks because they know it is so difficult to then try to undo a bad credit rating. And so they know, you don't pay our fine, you don't agree to what we want you to do, we're going to report you. And then you have to try to undo it. And that makes it very difficult.

COSTELLO: OK. So this couple is going to take it to court.

PATE: Good.

COSTELLO: So what might happen?

PATE: Well, I think they have a strong case because in this situation the company had decided that this statement was libelous, on their own, not before a court, not before a judge, and then they fined them. And I think they have, number one, a right to get their money back and, two, perhaps punitive damages.

COSTELLO: But, you know, credit reports, it's hard to -- even if you're in the right, those things linger.

PATE: There is. But there's a federal law, Fair Credit Reporting Act, that if it - if the credit ding was put there improperly, they've got to remove it. And if they don't, they can pay damages as well. Even the credit bureaus can pay damages.

COSTELLO: So just a final thought on this, like to protect yourself, I mean, do you never write a bad review online? Do you read your contract and all the fine print? Because nobody does that, frankly.

PATE: Right. Nobody does that, especially online. As long as the terms are fair, then they're going to be enforced. But if you try to prevent someone from exercising their First Amendment rights, that's never going to be enforced by a court. So voice your opinion. As long as it's not clearly untruthful, you got a right to do that.

COSTELLO: Page Pate, thank you so much.

PATE: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson accused of using cocaine and marijuana on a daily basis. Today her ex- husband testified against the people who are making those claims.


COSTELLO: Checking our "Top Stories" at 49 minutes past the hour.

She's one of those famous chefs in the world known for her love of chocolate, butter and all things delicious.


NIGELLA LAWSON, CELEBRITY CHEFF: There is for me just no bad way to eat bread. That's why, thank goodness you can get this by the quarter loaf.


COSTELLO: But now, two former assistants are accusing TV chef Nigella Lawson of abusing cocaine and marijuana. Those accusations bared in court where the assistants were accused of fraud by Lawson and her husband Charles Saatchi. Saatchi is testifying in London right now. We'll keep you posted.

A woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing off a warning shot has been released on bond while she awaits a new trial. Marissa Alexander was released Wednesday night. She'll be monitored electronically while on home detention. Alexander's case shined a light on Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground laws. Alexander said she fired a warning shot to scare away an abusive husband. But she wound up being convicted of attempted murder. The self-imposed deadline to fix the Obamacare Web site is tomorrow. And White House officials are afraid big spikes in traffic could cause problems. Sources in the insurance industry are telling CNN there's no way the site can be completely fixed by tomorrow. One government official has already tried to temper expectations saying November 30th isn't some magical date and that the site will still have some issues.

Hopes for Thanksgiving Day -- for the Thanksgiving Day comet lives on after initially saying Ison burned up. NASA scientists now believe part of the comet may have survived its trip past the sun. NASA says Ison is throwing off fits of gas and dust but it will take a few more days to figure out what's left of it. So keep your eyes on the sky.

CNN honors all of its heroes this weekend in all-star tribute; among the honored Dale Beatty. The disabled war veteran is helping his fellow soldiers get the welcome home they deserve.


DALE BEATTY, CNN HERO: All veterans have been taught to be responsible for the guy to your left and the guy to your right. And no matter what, you're going to bat for them if they need you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead. Last man, go.

BEATTY: We wouldn't leave one of our soldiers behind on the battlefield, but we do it so often here at home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did three tours in Vietnam. My injuries include my right leg, left elbow, and lower back. For 35 years no one cared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every war is forgotten when the next war starts. People welcome me home and say they love us and that I'm their hero. I knew after meeting other veterans that wasn't the case for all of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These other guys who struggle, they need a hand up. It's my mission to help other veterans get the support and homes they need from their communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the young man why we're all here today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just getting the community engaged around a couple of simple changes to someone's house or an entire house built from the ground up. We want to make their life easier, safer, just better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could not get my wheelchair in and out my front door because I had steps with no handrail. And it made me less of a social person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're able to build a deck and a ramp. There used to be a concrete sidewalk here. We busted all that up and got it out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't sound like a lot, but the impact that it made was tremendous. And their emotions are being rehabbed as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made me realize the challenges that I've had to endure meant something.

It jump started me back into life. Purple Heart Homes said "Welcome Home." It's great to be home after 40 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regardless of when you serve, where you serve, we're all the same. We're all veterans. They just need to know that somebody does care about them.


COSTELLO: Lots of people do. "CNN HEROES, AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE" airs Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.


COSTELLO: It is the play everybody is talking about this morning. Steeler's head coach Mike Tomlin on the field and in the way of a Ravens touchdown? Andy Scholes, is it true?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes well Carol you know Tomlin says this is what he does on every kickoff. He goes to the jumbotron and watch it to get a better perspective and this time he just kind of got lost of where he was on the field.

Here is a look at what happened. It happened during the third quarter last night. Jacoby Jones breaks free on the kickoff. It looks like he's going to go all the way. Then there's Tomlin came in right there causing Jones to adjust his stride just a bit. He would get tackle from behind now. The refs could have actually given Jones the touchdown but they didn't even throw a flag on the play.

Check it out Carol. Tomlin with a smile. Look guilty there? I don't know the Ravens still able to win the game, 22-20. And afterwards Joe Flacco said Tomlin knew exactly what he was doing when he got in the way.


JOE FLACCO, BALTIMORE RAVENS: You know, I took some flak I think for kind of joking around at the Super Bowl and saying that maybe you should run on the field and tackle somebody if this guy breaks it. And I kind of thought that's exactly what he just did. He was looking at the big screen the whole entire time. He knew where he was and he knew where Jacoby was. He pulled my move.


SCHOLES: Pulled his move.

COSTELLO: That's pretty good.

SCHOLE: All right, Carol. Well, your Lions, they finally broke the record nine-game Thanksgiving losing streak. They dominated the Packers, winning 40 (inaudible). Green Bay's offense was bad -- very bad. Again just 126 yards.

Look, Ndamukong Suh, model citizen, on the safety gently lays Matt Flynn down in the end zone. How nice of him no stomping or kicking this year.

COSTELLO: He put the covers over him and gave him a kiss good night.

SCHOLE: All right. In the afternoon matchup yesterday, Cowboys came from behind to beat the Raiders, 31-24. Runningback Demarco Murray rode a career high three touchdowns and -- Carol this is the first since 1999 that both the Cowboys and Lions won on Thanksgiving Day. Happy Cowboys and Lions fan eating their turkey this year.

All right. In the line up section of today you can see Texas Tech's perfectly executed fake punt. Check it out. Ryan (inaudible) is going to tuck it and go. Look at the punter. Goes 51 yards for the touchdown. This is the Red Raiders longest running play of the season.

COSTELLO: I've never seen a punter run that fast.

SCHOLES: passing by the punter -- and again, this is the only bright spot on the night for Texas tech. Longhorns they won this game easily, 41-16.

All right we saw this one coming Carol. The NBA has fined Jason Kidd $50,000 for appearing to intentionally spilling his drink late Wednesday when they lost to the Lakers. If you look closely, Jayson Kid says kick me to Taishon Taylor, spilled the drink around the court. That let them draw up one last play. While the ball boys had to go down there and clean it up.

Pretty clever move, but now he's paying for it. And by the way, it didn't work. The Lakers were still able to win the game.

COSTELLO: It was so obvious.

SCHOLES: And I feel bad for -- I'm a former ball boy for the Houston Rockets -- Carol. So I still have a badge. Because if anyone spilled their drink on the court, I would have to run out there with my towel and clean it up.

COSTELLO: And you have to make sure it was dry because it could cause physical injury.

SCHOLES: Right. The worst part of the job for me.

COSTELLO: I always wanted to be a ball girl. But back when I was young, they didn't do that with girls.

SCHOLES: How unlucky.

COSTELLO: Thanks Andy.

The next hour of NEWSROOM after a break.

Ok. We're not going to have a break. We're going to start right now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, it's time to stop until you drop. Shoppers have money in hand and patience in short supply.

And greeting shoppers today at Wal-Marts across the country -- protesters. We'll talk to Wal-Mart's head of merchandising and market.

Plus, if crowded malls and packed stores are not your thing, don't expect online to be any easier. More and more of you are hitting the web before the stores even open.

And it's the secret works from the man behind "the catcher in the rye." books not supposed to be out for decades are out right now. It's a big mystery this morning.

The second hour of NEWSROOM starts now.