Published on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Couple fined for bad TripAdvisor review




Trading standards officers launched an investigation into a Blackpool hotel that fined guests after they left a negative review on TripAdvisor.


Broadway Hotel, which is ranked 858th out of 894 hotels in Blackpool by TripAdvisor, allegedly deducted £100 from a couple's credit card for the review they posted following their stay in a £36 a night room.


Retired van driver Tony Jenkinson and his wife Jan, who only spent one night in the three-star hotel to break their journey from Whitehaven to Oxford, asked Trading Standards to take up their case.


Mr Jenkinson told the BBC that the warning of the fine was contained in the small print of the hotel's booking form, but he said his wife wasn't wearing her glasses so she signed without reading it


The hotel policy 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."


A Trading Standards spokesman said the policy could be deemed unfair trading practice. Officers spoke to the hotel and it is believed to have since agreed not to impose any further fines.


Broadway Hotel in Burlington Road West has 256 reviews on Trip Advisor, of which 191 rated the hotel as "poor" or "terrible". If it charged each of the negative reviewers £100, it would have made £19,100 profit.


Mr Jenkinson, who described the hotel in his online posting as a "rotten, stinking hovel", said he was trying to recover the money deducted from his credit card from his card issuer.


TripAdvisor said it was investigating the hotel concerned. Spokesman James Kay added: "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.


"We take pride in the fact that consumers know they can rely on TripAdvisor to help them make informed decisions. It's why millions of travellers keep coming back to the site each month.


"We built this community by giving customers a platform to share their honest opinions, whether good or bad. We strongly believe in their right to do so."



 



 

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  • Anonymity

    This is a mad, Basil Fawlty story, and the hotel in question deserves to be closed down and prosecuted for abusing its customers" payment authorisation. You can write any rubbish you like in your small print, but if a court finds it unreasonable you"re in the wrong, not the customer who inadvertently "contravenes" it. Hope they get roasted. But this episode isn"t a reflection on TripAdvisor. While TripAdvisor is itself certainly open to abuse, it"s not going to go away, because users overall find it much more useful than misleading, and therefore it"s growing and profitable. I have a feeling that owners who get it, who respond to reviews constructively whether positive or negative, find it helps them build their businesses. The idiot posters looking for freebies or posting maliciously and the equally spurious owners trying to fake reviews or post against competitors are in a tiny minority, and really no more trouble on TripAdvisor then difficult customers in the restaurant or rude hoteliers. Sadly, if you want drama, you won"t find it: most of the stuff on TripAdvisor is just boring old solid opinion. And increasingly the market is social-media-savvy: potential customers can recognise one-post wonders and fakes. And of course it"s in TripAdvisor"s interest to make the content as trustworthy as possible. The whole business has to rely on how trustworthy the weight of opinion is. I doubt whether the "1000-post offer" from India stands up to examination: it sounds like an urban myth to me and those are exactly the posts that never make it when people try to outwit TripAdvisor. But maybe Michael Anderson has the evidence? Irene: presumably this couple hadn"t seen the review before staying at the hotel? Maybe it was their first post on TripAdvisor? By the way, your own TripAdvisor reviews at Welsh Dragon Tours are outstanding - congratulations! Or have I got the wrong Irene Laird? It"s possible, because with all due respect, TravelMole readers may not know who the commenters here are, even the three out of four who"ve given their names. I think it comes back to the impossibility of squaring the circle: we can"t have social media transparency and trustworthiness while we have the right to post privately or completely anonymously, and with no guarantee that the comments are made in good faith. Still, these are interesting times, and there"s bound to be a further big revolution before much longer. Personally I"d like to see much more emphasis on verifiable comment in social media, at the inevitable expense of privacy - anonymity is ruining social interaction in so many areas. Richard Trillo See @richardtrillo on twitter for details

    By Richard Trillo, Tuesday, November 25, 2014

  • WRONG

    Where is the "freedom of speech" in this case. This hotel ought to get a life. No wonder they have that sort of clause..it probably is a lousy place.

    By mps mps, Friday, November 21, 2014

  • A light at the end of the Tunnel?

    Or is it Casey Jones coming the other way? The guys at Expedia.co.uk who thought up Trip Advisor must be laughing their socks off. (as well as all the way to the bank!) Trip advisor was invented as a marketing tool by a travel company to be abused, not least of which by the owners of Trip Advisor. In the early days 40%+ of Expedia's business was derived from Trip Advisor. I am not sure of the percentage today. It was obvious from day one this was going to be open to abuse. But people still allow reviews to influence their decisions. It spawned a whole industry of nobodies gaining notoriety looking for freebies (and more) in exchange for a positive review. We have never solicited any review, which is why we don"t have many! But what I have seen are positive and genuine. Yet I am the first to say to people do not believe what you read, especially if there are loads of reviews uploaded in a short space of time. I know of restaurants who offer a free carafe of house wine for a promise of a review. Indeed I have myself been offered financial encouragement to place reviews then link to them from my travel blog. The problem I now have from this is negative attitudes, rumours and lies from the people who made the offer, because I refused and they felt compromised. However I would never name them!

    By Paul Davis, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

  • NAIVE AND STUPID

    Yes, Mr Anderson - most people are naive and stupid it seems. Trip Advisor should be the outfit investigated and I have asked our Tourist Board to do so.

    By Irene Laird, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

  • PROVOCATIVE

    This couple of obviously fans of Trip Advisor, so why did they choose this hotel in the first place? Quite honestly, most sane people would avoid a hotel in Blackpool that was only charging £36 per night, wouldn't they? What a trite statement from Trip Advisor! How on earth did we manage without them??

    By Irene Laird, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

  • dodgy trip advisor

    you can pay someone in India to give you a 1000 "separate & independent" +ve reviews on trip advisor. Similarly you can pay them to give a 1000 -ve reviews to your opposition. Anyone who even reads this crap is obviously very na-¯ve & stupid.

    By Michael Anderson, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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