Published on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

NY hotel's negative review rule spurs online backlash

An upstate New York hotel has been bombarded with criticism following reports it threatened to charge guests $500 for negative reviews.

The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, NY posted on its website a forthright policy that any wedding couples would be 'fined' $500 for any negative online review left by a member of their wedding party.

"Despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not," the website explains.

The policy text read: "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."

The hotel went on to say any fine would be refunded once the negative review is taken down.

Following media reports of the hotel's mean spirited policy, it has been inundated with scathing comments online in the last 24 hours.

The hotel's Yelp page has received hundreds of new, mainly 1-star 'reviews' heavily critical of its stance.

One comment called out the hotel's "sneering and arrogant disdain for their customers," while another stated: "any establishment that believes they can silence their guests deserves to be shut down."

The offending text has since been taken off the hotel's website and the hotel now claims it was all a joke that has backfired spectacularly.

"The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago, it was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced," it said in an email to CNBC.

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