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Hotel Charges Guests $500 For Bad Online Reviews 183

njnnja (2833511) writes In an incredibly misguided attempt to reduce the quantity of bad reviews (such as these), the Union Street Guest House, a hotel about 2 hours outside of New York City, had instituted a policy to charge groups such as wedding parties $500 for each bad review posted online. The policy has been removed from their webpage but the wayback machine has archived the policy. "If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500. fine for each negative review."
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Hotel Charges Guests $500 For Bad Online Reviews

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  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:29PM (#47608791)

    It looks like "the market" is going to take care of these jokers. You should probably find a better example to make your point.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:36PM (#47608831) Homepage

    I know that you can enter into a contract with a company essentially saying "I won't post a negative review online." That would be sleazy but legal. How legal would it be, however, to have a person sign a contract that binds a third party into not posting a negative review under penalty of the signing party (not the bad review posting party) being fined? I don't know about you, but if I throw an event, I'm not usually in total control of my guests once they leave the event. If a guest leaves the party/wedding/ete, goes home, and posts a negative review of the hotel, how would that be under the control of the person who hosted the event/signed the contract?

    I wonder if they ever tried implementing this policy and, if so, how many lawyers fired off letters warning the hotel to back down or else.

  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:39PM (#47608851)

    It's no-win for Yelp.

    Leave hundreds of fake angry reviews or clean them up?

    Neither bodes well for them.

  • by AnOnyxMouseCoward ( 3693517 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:46PM (#47608899)
    Except, if you actually read all the TripAdvisor reviews (I had a lot of time to waste yesterday), you do notice a few things:

    1. The owners seem incredibly snarky.
    2. There's multiple cases of people getting charged even though they tried cancelling half a year in advance
    3. They seem to suffer from low staff and debatable accounting practices
    4. There's a of positive reviews from people with 1 review, and he accuses negative reviewers of being liars when they have a few reviews on their account

    Whether or not they actually charge $500 for bad online reviews is debatable, but they sure seem like dicks and charge for everything else, and have bad business practices.
  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:47PM (#47608911)

    Isn't the sticking point here not that the person contracting for service agrees to a non-disparagement clause but that person agrees on behalf of everyone in their entire group? Is that realistic?

  • by DM9290 ( 797337 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:51PM (#47608957) Journal

    well.... I don't like to get into the label game of whether I am or am not a libertarian, I do have many such symptahies though.

    That said.... there is respected....and there is respected.

    On its face, it is hard to argue with such terms without also arguing with other kinds of NDAs which, while I tend to not be a fan of, I am not really dead set against either.


    As such, I would say, I am ok with them having this policy and not ok with the force of the state being used to enforce its terms. So feel free to charge me $500, I am not going to pay, and i will never come to your establishment again, you can grow old and die thinking I owe you $500 for all I care. Enjoy your policy.

    Hows that for libertarian?

    so you would agree to such terms, and then screw over your contract partner after the fact by refusing to comply with the terms you just agreed to and have no problem with?

    Sounds just like a Libertarian to me.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:59PM (#47609041) Homepage Journal

    Contracts that you voluntarily enter into to keep your yapper shit meet Supreme Court approval..

    Perhaps. However, signing a contract on someone else's behalf is questionable at best, and that seems to be the case here - the hotel is putting the contract signers on the hook for the actions of people who did not sign said contract.

  • by Swave An deBwoner ( 907414 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @05:46PM (#47609427)

    I had my wedding reception catered at the Union Street Guest House last Saturday.

    The Union Street Guest House required me to sign an agreement stating that I would forfeit a $500 fine to them if I post a negative review of their establishment.

    Rather than lose $500, let me just say that I had my wedding reception catered at the Union Street Guest House last Saturday.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @07:13PM (#47610045)

    So in a world where men who make terrible husbands exist, and women who make terrible wives exist, you're just going to put all your money down on one side of the table all the time, every time, when you know nothing of either side in any given particular case.

    You're sexist.


"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama