Couple Fined by Hotel for Negative Online Review

Your pocketbook could take a hit if you post a critical online review.

Couple Fined by Hotel for Negative Online Review Photo (cc) by theanthonyryan

You might want to think twice before posting a scathing review of a business online. It could cost you.

According to The Associated Press, a British couple were recently charged 100 pounds ($157) after posting a negative hotel review online. Tony and Jan Jenkinson stayed one night at the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool, England. They described the hotel as a “filthy, dirty, rotten, stinking hovel” in a TripAdvisor review.

Soon after, the Jenkinsons realized the hotel had put a 100-pound charge on their credit card because it has a “no-bad-review policy” included in its terms and conditions, the AP said.

According to The Guardian, a British newspaper, the terms and conditions at the time of the Jenkinsons’ stay stated:

Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.

Blackpool authorities say the hotel has since dropped its controversial policy after inquiries were made, and that the charge to the couple’s credit card would be refunded.

Overall, the hotel is ranked 856 out of 894 Blackpool hotels and B&Bs reviewed on TripAdvisor.

This isn’t the first time a negative online critique has led to consumers being charged. According to The Indianapolis Star, businesses retaliating against bad reviews seems to be a growing trend.

“Businesses aren’t used to being effectively criticized,” said Paul Alan Levy, an attorney with Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer rights advocacy group and think tank based in Washington, D.C.

“Now, people can broadcast their complaints much more broadly and, plainly, the businesses that are targeted don’t like it.”

According to CNBC, the Union Street Guest House in New York had a policy on its website about a $500 fee for posting negative reviews of its hotel online. “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,” read the policy, which has since been deleted from the hotel’s website.

After news of the policy made headlines in the New York Post, the hotel insisted it was joking.

A new law in California protects online reviewers, preventing retailers from including non-disparagement clauses, which prohibit negative online comments, in their terms and conditions.

Do you post reviews online? Have you considered potential backlash from a business if the review is negative? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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