Those familiar with TripAdvisor, the website offering customer reviews of hotels and other establishments around the world, know that it’s a great resource before booking yourself into a hotel.
TripAdvisor reviews are now such an integral part of a hotel’s success, or failure, that establishments are keener than ever to be given good reviews, in order to stimulate more bookings.
But in a bizarre story from Blackpool, U.K. a British couple were fined just over $150 on their credit card after they wrote a negative review about the Broadway Hotel, describing it as a “rotten stinking hovel” following a one-night stay.
Retired van driver Tony Jenkinson, 63, and his 64-year-old wife Jan, who paid around $50 for the room, discovered that the small print of the hotel’s booking policy stipulates a $150 fine for any guest who writes a negative review about the hotel on TripAdvisor, following the extra charge on their card.
While the small print of the hotel’s booking document notes, “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.”
Trading standards officials are investigating the penalty, as they believe the hotel may have breached trading practice regulations.
Trading standards area manager, John Greenbank said “I have worked for trading standards for years and never seen anything like this. The management clearly thinks that they have come up with a novel way to prevent bad reviews, but we believe this could be deemed an unfair trading practice.”
In the Jenkinson’s review, the couple wrote that, ‘The wallpaper was peeling off the walls, the carpet was thin, dirty and stained. The bed was something else, it must have come out of the ark. This place should be shut down, I don’t know if they are ever inspected, but if so, I don’t know how this place has passed!”
A TripAdvisor spokesman said “It is completely against the spirit and policies of our site for any business owner to attempt to bully or intimidate reviewers.”