Many merchants never learn. A reporter contacted me about this pretty amazing story today: “A hotel in tony Hudson, NY, has found a novel way to keep negative reviews off Yelp and other sites — fine any grousing guests.”
The article goes on to explain that The Union Street Guest House will fine couples having their weddings at the inn $500 for every bad review posted by anyone in the wedding party. Here’s the hotel’s audacious language:
“If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”
Several major outlets have already exposed this and it appears the backlash has been swift and furious — especially on Yelp:
The 1.5 star rating is retaliatory I’m sure. On Trip Advisor it gets a 4.0 and on Google the inn merits a 4.2. However someone has caused the listing to read “permanently closed.”
This represents another “strong arm” attempt by a merchant to prevent or preempt negative reviews. It’s very misguided and ultimately will hurt the inn’s bottom line. The negative PR alone is going to damage the inn’s reputation and probably kill its wedding business.
One might consider the inn’s policy to be a product of arrogance, naiveté or both. What do you think?
Update: More than a year later the Union Street Guest House has a 1.5 star rating on Yelp. It has a better rating on TripAdvisor.