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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 TheCarp ( 96830 ) <> on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:40PM (#47608861) Homepage

    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. In fact, I can only find one reason split that hair, but I do think its a decent reason.... bad reviews are a form of consumer protection and so they are actually asking you to cover up their quality so as to reduce other people's ability to make an informed decision. As such, I would generally be ok with saying.

    That said, I should also point out that one has generally already paid by the time one writes a bad review. If they wanted to charge you, they would have to do it after the fact.

    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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:44PM (#47608875)

    They did more than threaten. They actually withheld money from wedding parties and then buckled after people got pissed and kicked up a serious fuss. As for the spamming, it's what they deserve.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @06:54PM (#47609955)

    Unfortunately that doesn't sound that bad. If you rent a car and your friend trashes it, you're still on the line for the actions of your friend...

    This hotel is stupid and they deserve what they're getting, but it's not signing a contract on someone else's behalf, it's signing a contract saying you are responsible for what they do. In many circumstances that's perfectly reasonable.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by infolation ( 840436 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @07:29PM (#47610115)
    Don't worry, according to the website they were just 'joking'.

    Ah yes. The good old 'We were just joking' defence. AKA 'The smiley at the end of the insult'.

    Dear guests of Union Street Guest House,

    Yesterday Union Street Guest House went viral for all the wrong reasons. News articles, blog posts and social media posts were published about our policy to charge wedding parties a $500 fee for every negative review.

    Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed. This indeed was a policy of the Union Street Guest House. It was originally intended as a joke and never something I told employees to enforce. However, since it was listed on our website it did represent an official policy. I now realize this joke was made in poor taste and not at all funny. This is no longer a policy of Union Street Guest House and we have taken it off of our website.

    I’ve also read the reviews from guests saying we tried to enforce the negative reviews policy on them and for that I apologize. It was never my intention for anyone to pay this fine. The instances where an attempt was made to collect the fees were a breakdown in communication between my staff and me, and for that I accept full responsibility.

    Including the fine for negative reviews as part of our policy was a mistake. That’s not the type of business that we run. It was a case of a joke gone very, very bad. The internet, social media and review sites are very powerful platforms and this situation has taught me valuable lessons about them. Feedback from our guests is very important to us. I admit that at times it can be tough to see a negative review and I could do a better job of taking that criticism in stride. We value each and every one of you and want to hear about your experience with Union Street Guest House, even if it’s a negative experience. Your reviews give us an opportunity to improve our service and make the Union Street Guest House experience better for everyone.

    I’m a novice when it comes to the internet and digital communication. My background is in music and hospitality. That’s by no means an excuse, but a realization that I need to learn and continually educate myself on technologies that affect my business. I vow to do that moving forward to avoid mistakes like this in the future.

    All of the team here at Union Street Guest House invites you to come visit us in Hudson, New York, and give us a chance to show you who we really are – a group dedicated to making your stay in the beautiful Hudson area a positive and memorable one.

    Please also accept my offer of a 10% discount on a visit to Union Street Guest House within the next three months as further apology. Just mention this letter. And I encourage you to leave a review about your experience (positive or negative) after your stay.

    I hope we see you in Hudson in the future.

    Chris Wagoner
    Union Street Guest House

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @01:45AM (#47611915)
    I really loved the COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT they have committed by stealing the images they use on their web site. See here:

    Their site [] and the source []

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard