It seems like some business owners are terribly afraid of receiving negative online reviews… such that they would go to great (and ridiculous) lengths just to prevent them.
Just a few months ago, we shared the story of one Hudson, New York hotel whose management tried to fine guests $500 for every negative online review. Its customer-offensive review policy generated a significant amount of bad publicity (and understandably so), and a bunch of people began to post fake negative reviews on the hotel’s Yelp page.
This week, another hotel is in the spotlight. According to reports, the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool in northwestern England fined guests £100 – approximately $177 – for writing a negative online review describing the property as a “filthy, dirty, rotten stinking hovel.”
Here’s what went down. After a one-night stay, Tony and Jan Jenkinson decided to leave a not-so-pleasant review of the Broadway Hotel and post it on travel review site TripAdvisor. Mr. Jenkinson 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.”
Shortly after posting the negative hotel review, the Jenkinson couple, who had paid £36 for their room, discovered that their credit card had been billed for £100. The charge was for the bad review.
According to reports, the Broadway Hotel’s booking document includes a clause that reads: “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 organizer will be charged a maximum £100 per review.”
“I have worked for trading standards for years and never seen anything like this,” commented area manager John Greenbank. “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.”
Added Councilor John McCreesh: “Hotel owners should focus on getting their service right rather than shutting down aggrieved customers with threats and fines.”
This hasn’t stopped previous and succeeding guests from criticizing the Blackpool hotel. The Broadway Hotel’s TripAdvisor page has already collected (as of this writing) 146 “Terrible” and 24 “Poor” reviews, ranking 858th out of 894 Blackpool B&Bs and inns.