| http://www.addictinginfo.org wrote:|
A quirky hotel in Hudson, New York has decided that the best way to
address any complaints guests had about their stay is to threaten
massive fines if even one of them speaks out about it.
The hidden fee appears in the contracts of any wedding party looking
to reserve the Union Street Guest House for their big day. If even a
single one of their guests goes on to write a negative opinion about
their stay, the hotel will charge the newlyweds $500.
If a lot of guests didn’t like their stay? Well, there goes the
honeymoon money. Instead of a down payment on a house or a nice nest
egg, the couple just starting their life together will have to contend
with the crippling debt from the awful hotel they reserved.
The online fine print reads (emphasis added):
| “If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel they may not like
it here,” the site reads. “Therefore: 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.“|
In other words, you better be extremely confident that every one of
the family and friends who you invited to your wedding are going to have
a fantastic time or else expect to see your bank account demolished.
Even more troubling, the place sounds like it has its share of real
problems. According to one Yelp reviewer who braved the $500 threat to
complain about his experience, the refrigerator and ice machine were
both broken during his stay and hotel staff made no effort to fix them.
“I complained to the manager on duty when we checked out,” the
customer writes. “He tried to feign interest but basically nodded, took
no notes, called nobody, and just waited for me to leave. No follow
up, just an empty and insincere apology.”
So far the hotel’s attempt to artificially keep their reviews high
has backfired spectacularly. As of this writing, their Yelp review
average stands at one star out of five. Dozens of people (many having
never been to the establishment) have posted warnings to others to not
go to this hotel or else face the massive fines.
And lest we think the hotel isn’t serious about its threats or that
they are simply there for show, here is a review from someone last year
which complains about this very thing:
The negative attention appears to have done its job. By noon Monday, the site had scrubbed its site of the threats.
Instead, the site asks that wedding planners contact them through email
to learn the details of the contract – meaning it’s entirely possible
that the “no bad reviews” requirement still exists, just not for
everybody to see online.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time a company has tried to coerce good
reviews out of customers vis-a-vis threats of fines or lawsuits. Earlier
this year, a couple was shocked to learn that they were being sued by
an online gadget company because they had written a negative review
detailing their horrible experience. As with this hotel, the gambit
didn’t go well for the company. A court recently decided in favor of the couple,
ruling that the couple owe the gadget company nothing and now the
company must pay them for the wasted time and expense of defending
themselves against this frivolous lawsuit.
It must be frustrating for a business to get negative reviews. It’s
understandable that they want to mitigate some of the damage, especially
when they think the online reviews aren’t being sincere, but charging a
person hundreds of dollars to ensure that he or she doesn’t
say anything bad is ludicrous. There must be a better way, and one that
doesn’t come with the added bad publicity Union Street Guest House is