Can you Get Fined For Writing a Bad Hotel Review?

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The Telegraph reported today that a couple who recently stayed at Blackpool’s Broadway Hotel wrote a review on TripAdvisor and were fined £100 by the hotel, citing a policy to charge for negative reviews. BBC has followed up with resolution to the story that the fine will be removed, but this isn’t the first time a hotel has charged guests for negative reviews.

The New York Post ran a story in August that the Union Street Guest House in New York would fine couples $500 per negative review when the venue was booked for a wedding. A few days later, the owner of the hotel publicly admitted that it had been an official policy but insisted it had only been meant as a joke. I recently checked their website and the policy has indeed been removed.

I tried to go to Broadway Hotel’s website as well to see their Terms & Conditions, but it appears that it has either crashed or been taken down after the scrutiny today.

Many people look to hotel review sites and blogs to provide truthful information when booking a hotel, and while experiences can vary even from stay to stay, first-hand online reviews are extremely helpful in a world where social media is a strong influencer.

Unfortunately some reviews are false, with reports of some hotels complaining that patrons have threatened to write bad reviews if they aren’t given free food or room upgrades. Some reportedly have even give bad reviews before they’ve even visited a hotel, which led the Italian Competition Authority and Kwikchex to investigate fraudulent reviews.

On the flip side, some hotel reviews have been found to be falsely positive, like those of an Accorhotels’ general manager who reportedly posted raving reviews about his own company’s properties but negatively about other chains.

To combat negative reviews, some individual hotels seem to have taken the matter into their own hands and occasionally try to bully those who might spread the word about a poor experience. Warning guests of penalties is obviously not the right way to go about doing so.

If you do get fined, many credit cards allow cardholders to dispute charges and this one would definitely be one to dispute in my book!

With a whopping 146 reviews labeled “Terrible”, I wouldn’t stay at the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool.

That being said, feedback even when negative can help hotels improve in weak areas. My reviews aren’t always glowing, but I hope that hotels know I write them to inform readers of my experiences and in hopes that hotels can become aware of areas that may need attention.

In addition, AB2365 is a law in California that was just signed in September. Click here for a video explaining the specifics, but basically the bill makes it illegal for businesses to stop customers from writing negative reviews.

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  1. Kurt

    Also, March Insanity – Anniversary Celebrations are on on Spartan Poker and someone’s going to Vegas!

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