Hotel To Refund $157 Fine To Couple Who Posted Negative Review

hotelgrabA couple visiting the English seaside town of Blackpool only paid about $57 for their one-night hotel stay, but when they slammed the place with a TripAdvisor review that called it a “rotten, stinking hovel,” the hotel hit back with a $157 fine.

The hotel guests tell the BBC that the £100 penalty popped up on their credit card account a couple days after posting the decidedly not-positive writeup.

The hotel claimed the couple had violated its non-disparagement policy, saying it “felt extremely upset by their actions and insulting comments towards our staff.”

The Blackpool hotel’s policy stated that, “For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.”

Management tells the BBC that it put the clause in place because “We have found that customers will threaten us with bad reviews simply to gain a discount.”

However, after being told by local authorities that it may be illegal, the hotel has ended the policy.

A number of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic have been trying to use these restrictive policies to prevent customers from complaining online and punish those that do.

California recently passed a law specifically outlawing non-disparagement clauses and there is similar pending legislation at the federal level.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.