It is no secret that online review sites such as TripAdvisor can make or break hotels and restaurants, with bad reviews making people look elsewhere – and this has led one Blackpool hotel choosing to “fine” a couple £100 for their negative comments.
Tony and Jan Jenkinson from Whitehaven posted negative comments about Broadway Hotel on Tripadvisor after spending a night in the establishment and were shocked to later find an extra £100 charged to their credit card.
Broadway Hotel said that it had a policy of charging customers for posting negative reviews, which is made clear in their terms and conditions. The relevant section 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 organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.”
While Broadway Hotel may claim negative reviews are rare, a quick look at their TripAdvisor page shows that this is very far from the case, with the hotel receiving an average of 2/5 stars.
Trading Standards are investigating the case and TripAdvisor made a statement, saying:
“While, thankfully, such instances are very rare, it is completely against the spirit and policies of our site for any business owner to attempt to bully or intimidate reviewers who have had a negative experience.
“Where we find evidence of a business doing so, we will take action to protect the integrity of our site.”
Review sites can be the target of “astroturfing”, where companies post fake positive reviews about themselves, as well as fake negative reviews posted by competitors. However, sites like TripAdvisor do try to weed out such fake claims to make sure they offer the most relevant information to their users.
While a £100 fine may be annoying (and possibly illegal) in this case, what is most amusing is that as information about the fees are published in the press, you can be certain that this negative publicity is worse than any review about a lack of parking and a plastic breakfast sausage.
Photograph by Amy Wardlaw