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Hotel Charges Guests $500 For Bad Online Reviews

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the may-require-substantial-deposit dept.

Social Networks 183

njnnja (2833511) writes In an incredibly misguided attempt to reduce the quantity of bad reviews (such as these), the Union Street Guest House, a hotel about 2 hours outside of New York City, had instituted a policy to charge groups such as wedding parties $500 for each bad review posted online. The policy has been removed from their webpage but the wayback machine has archived the policy. "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 If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500. fine for each negative review."

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Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608767)

I hate negative reviews as much as anyone!

Re:Good (2)

OakDragon (885217) | about 4 months ago | (#47609105)

I hated paying the $500, but it was totally to BURN them with my review!

Re:Good (5, Funny)

tchdab1 (164848) | about 4 months ago | (#47609139)

A good review can be just as effective: "I really loved the cold soup, the dirty sheets, and the rude staff attitude - it made me feel just like home."

Re:Good (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609821)

Have you ever considered a new wife?

(Posting anonymously because some stuck up people think women are some kind of sacred beings and sexist jokes on them are some kind of blasphemy.)

Re:Good (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609261)

I hereby notify all B&Bs and motels: I charge $500 for a good review.

Re:Good (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 4 months ago | (#47609633)

I'm on my way to yelp to post a review of them right now.

Speaking of Yelp (2)

justthinkit (954982) | about 4 months ago | (#47609775)

Yelp automagically pulls (hides behind the curtain) reviews it deems are not representative. Supposedly the extremes like "5 star" and "1 star" reviews. But not for the cases I've looked at.

And Yelp doesn't allow you to down-mod reviews. Just 3 versions of "I got high reading that review".

Odds that Yelp goes under in 2014? 2015?

So... in addition to the bad reviews... (3, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#47608773)

How much will the class action lawsuit cost them, when they're brought to court for deceitful contracts?

Re:So... in addition to the bad reviews... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608841)

How much will the class action lawsuit cost them, when they're brought to court for deceitful contracts?

Probably legal, just stupid. e.g. look here for a 1A specialist's take on it:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/08/04/volokh-conspiracy-marketing-genius-award-goes-to-the-union-street-guest-house-hudson-new-york/

Apparently if you are aware of them, entering into a "non-disparagement" agreement isn't all that rare and is usually enforceable. Mind you, still an epic PR move in this particular case.

Re:So... in addition to the bad reviews... (5, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | about 4 months ago | (#47608911)

Isn't the sticking point here not that the person contracting for service agrees to a non-disparagement clause but that person agrees on behalf of everyone in their entire group? Is that realistic?

Re:So... in addition to the bad reviews... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609459)

Read the link. It looks like you are agreeing if any of your guests posts a review, you will be fined. You won't be fined if you convince them to take down the negative review. Crappy idea and awful PR? Sure. Enforceable if you enter into it willingly? Presumably

I wonder if Barbra Streisand has ever stayed there (4, Funny)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 4 months ago | (#47608777)

Maybe she could have warned them what happens when you try to bury the truth.

Re:I wonder if Barbra Streisand has ever stayed th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609329)

They should just impose the right to be forgotten on all these bad reviews.

Libertarians, discuss! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608785)

Come on, cunts. Tell us why freedom of contract means this sort of term ought to be respected. Explain carefully that it's their own fault for not reading the smallprint, and that "the market" will solve this by simply reducing the quantity of customers rather than merely limiting to uninformed customers or customers who have something better to do than to believe they're serious.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 months ago | (#47608791)

It looks like "the market" is going to take care of these jokers. You should probably find a better example to make your point.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (3, Informative)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#47608985)

Contracts that you voluntarily enter into to keep your yapper shit meet Supreme Court approval. Normally it would be "don't badmouth our mutual financial endeavor", not over a product purchase.

The wisdom of such in a situation like this is something else. Other uses of free speech to lambaste them seem to be working fine.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#47609041)

Contracts that you voluntarily enter into to keep your yapper shit meet Supreme Court approval..

Perhaps. However, signing a contract on someone else's behalf is questionable at best, and that seems to be the case here - the hotel is putting the contract signers on the hook for the actions of people who did not sign said contract.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 months ago | (#47609231)

Yeah, pretty sure those wouldn't hold up.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608835)

If a business makes a claim and you don't take it seriously then you really are an idiot. Aside from this, it's unenforceable unless you deal with them directly. I see a good window of opportunity to make a real show of this on the part of any trolls or wanna-be Anonymous types who just want to stir up the waters.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608845)

The market is solving this. On top of that, read the contract and cross out what you don't like. Your marked out sections are your counter offer. If they don't accept them do business somewhere else.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (2)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | about 4 months ago | (#47609093)

But that makes my monitor harder to clean!

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (3, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about 4 months ago | (#47608861)

well.... I don't like to get into the label game of whether I am or am not a libertarian, I do have many such symptahies though.

That said.... there is respected....and there is respected.

On its face, it is hard to argue with such terms without also arguing with other kinds of NDAs which, while I tend to not be a fan of, I am not really dead set against either. In fact, I can only find one reason split that hair, but I do think its a decent reason.... bad reviews are a form of consumer protection and so they are actually asking you to cover up their quality so as to reduce other people's ability to make an informed decision. As such, I would generally be ok with saying.

That said, I should also point out that one has generally already paid by the time one writes a bad review. If they wanted to charge you, they would have to do it after the fact.

As such, I would say, I am ok with them having this policy and not ok with the force of the state being used to enforce its terms. So feel free to charge me $500, I am not going to pay, and i will never come to your establishment again, you can grow old and die thinking I owe you $500 for all I care. Enjoy your policy.

Hows that for libertarian?

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47608873)

"...t ok with the force of the state being used to enforce its terms."

as long as you are ok with the state not enforcing me to pay.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608939)

The state can go ahead and force me to pay, my credit card company however is going to ream them if they try to charge me. I'm sure they'd like to be able to continue to accept major credit cards.

Re: Libertarians, discuss! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608945)

They take the $500 from your refundable deposit. They don't invoice you for the $500.

Re: Libertarians, discuss! (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 4 months ago | (#47609057)

So don't post the review until you've received your deposit back. Problem solved.

Of course you can also argue that a "bad" review is different from a "fair" review, even if the fair review described goods and service that other people may not want to pay for.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (3, Insightful)

DM9290 (797337) | about 4 months ago | (#47608957)

well.... I don't like to get into the label game of whether I am or am not a libertarian, I do have many such symptahies though.

That said.... there is respected....and there is respected.

On its face, it is hard to argue with such terms without also arguing with other kinds of NDAs which, while I tend to not be a fan of, I am not really dead set against either.

...

As such, I would say, I am ok with them having this policy and not ok with the force of the state being used to enforce its terms. So feel free to charge me $500, I am not going to pay, and i will never come to your establishment again, you can grow old and die thinking I owe you $500 for all I care. Enjoy your policy.

Hows that for libertarian?

so you would agree to such terms, and then screw over your contract partner after the fact by refusing to comply with the terms you just agreed to and have no problem with?

Sounds just like a Libertarian to me.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609573)

>so you would agree to such terms, and then screw over your contract partner after the fact by refusing to comply with the terms you just agreed to and have no problem with?

Yes. You clearly don't understand libertarianism one iota, do you?

It's based on the idea of reputation. If you have a reputation for screwing people over on contracts, you'll gain a bad name for yourself. Of course, if those you screw over are known to be douchebags, then such screwings will be ignored.

Thus if you're known to screw over places with ridiculous terms, douchebags will avoid making contracts with you. Which sounds like a double-win to me.

Re: Libertarians, discuss! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608937)

Are you blind? What a poor example to attack libertarians with. This has happened multiple times and rarely ends well for the business. Recently a company lost its amazon seller account for the negative PR generated. A think geek clone also faced the wrath of the internet. In the cases I have seen, negative reviews multiply 1000 fold. And many potential buyers consult reviews.

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (2)

Arker (91948) | about 4 months ago | (#47608965)

I cant see any compelling reason you should not be able to agree to a non-disparagement clause, assuming it's clearly presented ahead of time and you knowingly agreed to it in return for compensation. Devils advocate, of course, is to point out that it's not really clear that this was the case - the 'policy' may not have been clearly presented ahead of time and knowingly agreed to by guests and I saw no mention of compensation. So if it ever went to court there would be room for invalidation.

Regardless, it looks like the market is taking care of it fine, without even needing a court to review the 'contract' - the very fact that this business tried to impose such a policy is set to cost them a pretty good slice of profits, and the public nature of the reaction is helping to discourage any other businesses that might try the same thing.

You were saying?

Re:Libertarians, discuss! (1)

OakDragon (885217) | about 4 months ago | (#47609101)

Take it easy there, Hit Girl!

Is it a bad review to mention they charge for one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608787)

How stupid can places get?

Re:Is it a bad review to mention they charge for o (3, Funny)

thieh (3654731) | about 4 months ago | (#47608903)

How stupid can places get?

Zeroth Law of Stupidity: There is no upper bound on the amount of stupidity that can exist within any particular individual. First Law of Stupidity: We always underestimate the number of stupid people, even after the First Law of Stupidity is applied/accounted for. Does that answer your question?

Re:Is it a bad review to mention they charge for o (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 4 months ago | (#47609669)

Second Law: We're apparently counting in zero-indexed binary so this law doesn't exist.

so, in essence... (2)

thieh (3654731) | about 4 months ago | (#47608789)

"In an effort to reduce the amount of people to enjoy our service, we will start charging extra when you don't want others to come enjoy our service". Well played.

What if the complaint is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608797)

that they charge me 500$ if I complain.

Re:What if the complaint is (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 4 months ago | (#47609511)

that they charge me 500$ if I complain.

I would suggest that you make sure you get your money's worth.

Sensational headline is sensational... (4, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#47608803)

Except, they didn't actually charge anyone, they just threatened it.

As usual, a good breakdown at Fatwallet:
http://www.fatwallet.com/forum... [fatwallet.com]

They've been spammed with bad reviews, Streisand effect and all...

Re:Sensational headline is sensational... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608875)

They did more than threaten. They actually withheld money from wedding parties and then buckled after people got pissed and kicked up a serious fuss. As for the spamming, it's what they deserve.

Re:Sensational headline is sensational... (3, Informative)

beltsbear (2489652) | about 4 months ago | (#47609379)

I am not defending their stupidity but there is ZERO evidence that they have actually done this. They said it was a 'joke' and that they have never used that clause. Whether or not it is a 'joke', there is no real examples of people being charged for bad reviews.

Re:Sensational headline is sensational... (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 4 months ago | (#47609675)

Maybe they were just threatening not to return the money at some indeterminate point in the future unless they took it down :)

Re:Sensational headline is sensational... (5, Insightful)

AnOnyxMouseCoward (3693517) | about 4 months ago | (#47608899)

Except, if you actually read all the TripAdvisor reviews (I had a lot of time to waste yesterday), you do notice a few things:

1. The owners seem incredibly snarky.
2. There's multiple cases of people getting charged even though they tried cancelling half a year in advance
3. They seem to suffer from low staff and debatable accounting practices
4. There's a of positive reviews from people with 1 review, and he accuses negative reviewers of being liars when they have a few reviews on their account

Whether or not they actually charge $500 for bad online reviews is debatable, but they sure seem like dicks and charge for everything else, and have bad business practices.

Re:Sensational headline is sensational... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609073)

but they sure seem like dicks and charge for everything else
Ah so your typical 'high end' hotel. The worst I saw was 12 dollars for bottle of aquafina water. We were all sitting around joking about the water and someone said 'I drank that' 'why would you do that?' 'i was thirsty'. More like 'its not your money and good luck getting your boss to approve it now that we made fun of it'.

Re:Sensational headline is sensational... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609097)

Sounds like a repeat of Amy's Baking Company [huffingtonpost.com]

Re:Sensational headline is sensational... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608915)

Looks like they need some negative reviews over here. They're still at 4.1/5.

Re:Sensational headline is sensational... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608983)

Looks like they need some negative reviews over here [bedandbreakfast.com] . They're still at 4.1/5.

Yes they've charged someone (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609237)

This guy posted on Yelp last year that the hotel fined his friends for his review:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/union-street-guest-house-hudson?hrid=_p-R59VY-c19Nmxt4r9X9w

yelp is deleting negative reviews?! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608811)

When I looked last night there were more than 700 reviews. When I look now, there are only 100.

The real story here is Yelp deleting negative reviews for this crappy hotel.

Re:yelp is deleting negative reviews?! (3, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#47608851)

It's no-win for Yelp.

Leave hundreds of fake angry reviews or clean them up?

Neither bodes well for them.

Re:yelp is deleting negative reviews?! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#47609065)

You can't stop the signal, Mal.

Re:yelp is deleting negative reviews?! (4, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#47609285)

Does anybody believe yelp and angieslist are anything other then paid advertising sites anymore?

It's common knowledge that they extort business' to hide the bad reviews. Not trustworthy, simple as that.

Re:yelp is deleting negative reviews?! (2)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 4 months ago | (#47609695)

Or maybe they started out with good intentions but got corrupted like everything else in this world.

Or stay uncorrupted and then get stomped on by all the people who went to the Dark Side I suppose.

Re:yelp is deleting negative reviews?! (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#47609295)

Thats because the fine people at Reddit decided to post fake reviews without having been a customer, which jacks the system up for everyone.

Re:yelp is deleting negative reviews?! (1)

houghi (78078) | about 4 months ago | (#47609781)

That is not a story. That is a well known fact.

Already been retracted. (1)

qmetaball (1645933) | about 4 months ago | (#47608827)

They'd actually retracted this policy before this post even went live, likely a ploy for publicity.

Re:Already been retracted. (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 4 months ago | (#47609005)

Microsoft has the same idea for Windows 9, as well as GM for next year's model numbers. Get as much bad press as possible with the current product, and people will flock to you when the next one comes out.

That sound about right?

Re:Already been retracted. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#47609339)

Yeah, it makes people want to go there if they're known as the hotel that stinks so bad they have to blackmail you so you don't write badly about them.

Contract binding third parties (3, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 months ago | (#47608831)

I know that you can enter into a contract with a company essentially saying "I won't post a negative review online." That would be sleazy but legal. How legal would it be, however, to have a person sign a contract that binds a third party into not posting a negative review under penalty of the signing party (not the bad review posting party) being fined? I don't know about you, but if I throw an event, I'm not usually in total control of my guests once they leave the event. If a guest leaves the party/wedding/ete, goes home, and posts a negative review of the hotel, how would that be under the control of the person who hosted the event/signed the contract?

I wonder if they ever tried implementing this policy and, if so, how many lawyers fired off letters warning the hotel to back down or else.

Re:Contract binding third parties (4, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#47608859)

I sign those contracts all the time.

Sometimes my contract says that I believe a group of people will perform better than another group of people, and if my chosen group of people perform badly, I have to pay a penalty to the other party.

The other party is my bookie.

Re:Contract binding third parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608913)

Really? When you placed a bet with your "bookie," you signed a contract? I highly doubt it.

Re:Contract binding third parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609333)

Ever back out on paying a bookie? Contractual penalties are far more ... ahem ... humane

Re:Contract binding third parties (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#47609469)

It's an enforceable oral contract.

Re:Contract binding third parties (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#47609639)

Sign?

Betting is legal a lot of places where you suspect it might be. In my state (not Nevada or Jersey), any two private parties can be on pretty much anything they want (provided no 3rd party takes a cut), and the results of those bets are enforceable.

Much like many of the contracts we enter into regularly -- they're rarely written.

Re:Contract binding third parties (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 4 months ago | (#47609095)

People agree to pay for things outside of their control all the time. Consider the contract you have with your auto insurance company, for example, in which they agree to pay in the event that you get into an accident. If you agree to the terms of your own free will, in the absence of fraud or duress, you should assume that they're binding, at least morally if not legally. The real problem would be if they were trying to fine the people posting negative reviews directly, when they weren't a party to the contract.

I see no reason why this contract shouldn't be considered binding—which is not to say that I think it's a good idea. I find it a bit surprising that they still have any customers after pulling a stunt like this, which was a clear sign of desperation in its own right. One doesn''t go to such lengths to suppress negative reviews unless one has something to hide.

Re:Contract binding third parties (5, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 4 months ago | (#47609517)

http://www.bbb.org/upstate-new... [bbb.org]

Just looking through the BBB complaints from years before this whole ordeal began, it's pretty apparent that the business has very little regard for its customers and does everything it can to leverage its policies so that it can keep the money. One quick example from the BBB complaints:

I made a reservation that I then had to cancel. They advised [ed. note: in the policy] it would take up to 60 days to processes the cancellation less a $25 cancellation fee. I contacted them 9 months in advance of the reservation. I have not heard back. I have emailed the cancellation email address twice as well as the general information email and have received no response. On Yelp, you can see there are others who have had this issue where they do not return funds if the reservation is cancelled. They charged me the full value of the reservation up front, even when they say that they are only going to charge half at the time of the reservation and half at the time of the stay. The full price that they charged me was $812.00

All she asked the BBB to help with was to get them to honor their policy and refund her the $812, less the $25 cancellation fee, which she figured was still reasonable, since at that point they were still 5 months before the reservation date. The business responded to the BBB by claiming that it never received the e-mails from the customer...and that was it. They didn't offer to go ahead and honor the cancellation request. So, since they had claimed they never received the request (and apparently the BBB complaint didn't count as a request either), she posted timestamped logs of all of the e-mails she had sent. Their response to that was:

Once again. This person is not reading our "Cancel at your own Risk" policy despite the fact that she has cut and pasted it. It can be found again at:

http://unionstreetguesthouse.c... [unionstree...thouse.com] [ed. note: the policy has obviously changed since then]

After having the chance to read it she agreed to it by clicking the box and agreeing to a contract with us. That said if said cancelation was made AND accepted by us there would have been a refund.

The customer pointed out that their policy doesn't mention anything about the cancellation needing to be "accepted" by them and that she perfectly followed the policy, giving them months of advance notice and contacting them via the one-and-only means that they make available. She repeated her request that they simply honor their own policy.

The business never responded again and the BBB had to close it as an issue that the business failed to resolve. The business has since changed its cancellation policy to include that they need to accept the cancellation, which is utterly ludicrous, which is nearly as bad as having a no-cancellations-allowed policy for rooms booked for more than three days at a time, regardless of when you try to cancel them.

Damn them with faint praise (5, Funny)

SJester (1676058) | about 4 months ago | (#47608843)

I'd be so tempted to write a positive review that damns them with faint praise. "I was delighted to discover that the toilets on the first floor do flush adequately, and that the water stops rising eventually and goes back down!" Or "the cheap fake strawberry air freshener reminds me of my best year in college."

Re:Damn them with faint praise (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#47609307)

John J. on Yelp [yelp.com] beat you to it:

Apparently we are not allowed to write negative reviews, so I will write a positive one.

I very much enjoyed my stay at the Union Street Guest House, which met or exceeded every expectation! Everything felt authentic and vintage, like the bathroom, which did not have working toilets. ("Just like olden times," noted the concierge.) Similarly, the beds were very uncomfortable, just like in the days of yore, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had taken the trouble to obtain several hundred bedbugs to place in the bed, for the sake of authenticity.

The food in the dining room was similarly amazing -- totally inedible! One bite of the cold porridge and my wife said, "Wow, this stuff is unbelievable!" So true.

I can't recommend this place enough. It is by far my favorite plague-infested parasite haven in Hudson, NY.

Please don't fine me $500; I spent all my money getting rid of the bedbugs I brought back with me.

Thats the biggest...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608847)

Thats the biggest a$$-hat thing i've read in a while. DNRTA. So if you had given a legit bad review for what ever reason you will get slapped twice, once for the experience and two for the "fine".

Don't they realize... (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about 4 months ago | (#47608863)

Don't they realize that a policy like this is more likely to SCARE potential customers away than to help their reputation?

Do these idiots think this through at all before coming up with crap like this?

Re:Don't they realize... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#47609363)

Well, I guess you have to be already very desperate to attempt something like that. I doubt they'd even consider doing something like that if they didn't already drown in negative reviews. It's more a "we're going under anyway, can as well try something desperate" thing, I'd say.

plus minus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608869)

the net is a bunch of whiners.
imagine if they had said "we'll give a $500 credit to anyone who posts a good or middling review".

of course, the worse is when whine enthusiasts show up to add comments like "this is such an attack on freedom of speech!"

Re:plus minus (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#47609389)

Either is despicable, paying for good reviews as well as intimidating those that want to leave bad ones.

Earn your good reviews and deal with the bad ones. Welcome to the free market. For a change, the demand side finally can fulfill its duty in a free market: Make an informed decision.

There are ways of posting bad reviews (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 4 months ago | (#47608889)

without posting anything bad. For instance:

- This hotel definitely has 8 rooms, and all of them have beds.
- The hotel's owner is very dedicated to ensuring your bill is correct when you leave.
- Checkout time is strictly enforced, so you're sure to find your room empty when you arrive.
- Staying at this hotel is much better than camping on a landfill.
- This hotel is much less expensive than the George V, and much more comfortable than a Texas motel.

Re:There are ways of posting bad reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608973)

How are first three reviews bad even in the sense of the word you're going for here?

Re:There are ways of posting bad reviews (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 4 months ago | (#47609061)

Because the subjects of the review (the number of rooms and presence of bed, the owner being a stickler for correct bills) are peripheral to what normal would-be visitors expect to read, and that's usually enough of a clue to tip them off.

It's used all the time: when you want to tell people your business is under an NSA gag order, to clue in a potential employer they should not to hire one of your former employees who's incompetent... without saying so explicitely because you can't.

Re:There are ways of posting bad reviews (2)

neminem (561346) | about 4 months ago | (#47609129)

i.e. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmw... [tvtropes.org]

Which works, though I would have had more fun going the other direction, being like "This was a FANTASTIC HOTEL. Its food was DEFINITELY NOT TERRIBLE, and when I went to check in, the guy at the front desk definitely did NOT spend half an hour ignoring me to instead post pictures on facebook. There was NOT a roach problem, and the toilet in the bathroom definitely did NOT stop up a bunch of times."

Re:There are ways of posting bad reviews (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 4 months ago | (#47609467)

Or how about "staying in this hotel reminds me of a Song from a French Broadway Play"

the song in question of course being Master Of the House from Les Mis

Re:There are ways of posting bad reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609493)

Why not just copy-pasta the terms of your contract gagging you into the review, add "I shall now fulfill my contract terms by reviewing any and all positives this hotel has to offer, withholding any and all negative statements: The room contained furniture. 5 stars. I apologize that per my contract, this is the only detail I may legally leave in my heavily edited review."

Christ Alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47608905)

A quick Google of USGH will bring you countless negative reviews.

The Yelp reviews are entertaining.

The internet has spoken: very funny reviews (2)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 4 months ago | (#47608949)

Yelp reviews [yelp.com]

Re:The internet has spoken: very funny reviews (1)

digitalPhant0m (1424687) | about 4 months ago | (#47609263)

Holy Streisand_effect [wikipedia.org] . The reviews on yelp are priceless.

Wll they bill me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609011)

... if I don't stay there?

Re:Wll they bill me ... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#47609397)

C'mon, they're maybe bad but they're not the RIAA, they can't make you pay even if you don't need their service.

No one posted this yet? On Slashdot?? (1)

Moppusan (2837753) | about 4 months ago | (#47609059)

Union Street Guest House SUCKS!! You're welcome.

Palmer vs Kleargear (geeky website) (2)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 4 months ago | (#47609083)

This is the suit where Kleargear fined a couple $3,500 for leaving a bad review and ruined their credit etc etc. Looks like they (Kleargear) didnt even show up to court. Wonder why.

Palmer vs Kleargear [wikipedia.org]

Re:Palmer vs Kleargear (geeky website) (1)

russotto (537200) | about 4 months ago | (#47609773)

Kleargear was even worse. They charged the "fine" when
1) The person who posted the review was not the person who agreed the the contract (the contract, unlike USGHs, did not say anything about third party reviews)

2) They'd already breached the contract by not delivering the item.

3) They'd actually added the language to the contract AFTER the person who ordered it did so.

USGH seems to be a bunch of reasonably honest dirtbags, at least; they do indeed mention that the fine applies for other people's reviews, and they don't fine people for bad reviews if they don't stay at the hotel. 5 stars.

How much do they charge for good reviews? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 4 months ago | (#47609281)

$500 for a bad review is pretty terrible until you learn that good reviews are $200 each.

The real issue (2)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about 4 months ago | (#47609353)

The real issue is people putting ridiculous amounts of stock into online reviews that are easily manipulated both by the vendor of a given service or a minority of disgruntled and hyper-critical customers. With groups like Yelp or Angie's List, it gets especially messy, because they don't use a verification system for reviewers and on both sides there are paid armies of the people who can't hack it as (lame sack of shite) SEO consultants trying to grift a buck manipulating reviews positive for their clients and negative for nearby competitors.

This gets even worse when we consider the nasty culture of anti-confrontation where people instead of bringing an issue appropriately to management and getting it fixed, just spout vitriol and become oversensitive over minutia.

Sure, lots of bad service exists in the various service and product industries. The simple fix is to clearly ask for what you want and then not pay (demand a credit / refund) when things are not made right. Too bad the majority of people willing to go to such lengths are usually the self-absorbed assholes who have unreasonable requests and expectations.

Re:The real issue (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about 4 months ago | (#47609393)

Just looked at the Yelp reviews... Yep lots of people who have never come close to the place spouting off just so someone thinks their voice is important and try to make some false attempt at social commentary.

I guess the same charge could be leveled at /. posters...

My Review of the Union Street Guest House (4, Insightful)

Swave An deBwoner (907414) | about 4 months ago | (#47609427)

I had my wedding reception catered at the Union Street Guest House last Saturday.

The Union Street Guest House required me to sign an agreement stating that I would forfeit a $500 fine to them if I post a negative review of their establishment.

Rather than lose $500, let me just say that I had my wedding reception catered at the Union Street Guest House last Saturday.

Give us a good review, or else. (1)

alzoron (210577) | about 4 months ago | (#47609433)

So if you don't leave a positive review they keep your money. That's extortion, and very very illegal.

Re:Give us a good review, or else. (1)

TMYates (1946034) | about 4 months ago | (#47609621)

Your alternative under the agreement would be to not post anything. I would hardly call that extortion when you have an option like that. I would never stay at such a place anyway and will start to look at any agreements I sign for such verbiage.

Re:Give us a good review, or else. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609671)

Not to defend the hotel or this insane policy, but there's a big difference between "give us a good review or else" and "don't give us a bad review or else".

Know how to work with this one... (2)

MiniMike (234881) | about 4 months ago | (#47609529)

Say you had a legit bad experience there- so you wait the week or so until they return your deposit to unleash your torrent of critical reviews, or start burning through the deposit while you're still there.

If your experience there was so bad that you can't wait a week to post the review you should probably be talking to a lawyer first anyway.

Re:Know how to work with this one... (2)

Swave An deBwoner (907414) | about 4 months ago | (#47609649)

Uh oh, you didn't read their policy at the Wayback Machine archive:

The deposit will not be refunded until we feel that everything is 100% resolved (we reserve the right to refund at any time).

You might have to wait a looooonng time for your refund. Ha ha.

Re:Know how to work with this one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609817)

He said "wait until they return your deposit". Are you trying to suggest that they will never return any one's deposit on the off chance that when they do a bad review will appear? Perhaps you just have a bad case of head-up-rectum?

Don't know who to side with (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#47609603)

A business trying to restrict users' free speech, or users empowering the various review sites out there that seek to become "gatekeepers of reputation."

group discount? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47609611)

Do they at least give you a group discount if there is a large volume of bad reviews from your party? $5,000 seems a bit steep if say 10 people from my wedding party were to complain :/

So... (1, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 4 months ago | (#47609627)

If you've never stayed there, you can post a bad review for free? Because I have a special review I've been saving for years for just such an occasion!
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