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(The Verge)   Negative review of the hotel? That will be $500. Thank you for staying at the Union Street Guest House   (theverge.com) divider line 81
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3455 clicks; posted to Business » on 04 Aug 2014 at 12:45 PM (19 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-08-04 11:17:55 AM  
IOW, "We have no concept of how the internet works."
 
2014-08-04 12:40:50 PM  
This will not end well.

Where's Anthony Melchiorri when you need him.  I remember where he took an owner to task for responding negatively to a review rather than fixing the service that led to the poor review.

The other thing I have to ask is if it's even legal for them to do this.
 
2014-08-04 12:51:02 PM  
How hard is it to not be a vindictive fark if your place gets a bad internet review? I'd prefer these places refrain from commenting on any online reviews for any reason rather than come off as whiny, vindictive, and over compensating. Yeah, even if the reviewer is a complete liar and asshat, it is more professional to rise above and just not say anything.
 
2014-08-04 12:52:18 PM  
Should have used:  www.reviewrls.com
 
2014-08-04 12:52:58 PM  
It's well with their rights if it was part of the contract.

Now if it makes business sense in another story... I have a feeling if this news becomes 'viral' they will regret it.
 
2014-08-04 01:01:07 PM  

slayer199: This will not end well.

Where's Anthony Melchiorri when you need him.  I remember where he took an owner to task for responding negatively to a review rather than fixing the service that led to the poor review.

The other thing I have to ask is if it's even legal for them to do this.


I know a florist that refuses to handle weddings because they always go Bridezilla.
 
2014-08-04 01:01:14 PM  
Yeah, while this is slightly different, you can't take away someone's free speech.

Somewhat related and ended badly for the company:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_v._Kleargear.com
 
2014-08-04 01:03:27 PM  

robxiii: Yeah, while this is slightly different, you can't take away someone's free speech.



Umm sure you can.  It happens all of the time.
 
2014-08-04 01:06:30 PM  
So if the bride and groom don't send you a thank-you note for that crappy crystal vase you got them, just leave a bunch of bad reviews for the hotel!  That'll show 'em!
 
2014-08-04 01:08:37 PM  

MugzyBrown: It's well with their rights if it was part of the contract.

Now if it makes business sense in another story... I have a feeling if this news becomes 'viral' they will regret it.


just curious how it is within their rights to control the future actions of guests of the person who signs the contract?
 
2014-08-04 01:08:43 PM  
AKA  "The Babs Streisand Arms."


what a sack of dickbags.
 
2014-08-04 01:08:48 PM  
More like "crappy inn figures out how to get free advertising on the Internet."
 
2014-08-04 01:10:58 PM  
 
2014-08-04 01:12:24 PM  
img2u.info
 
2014-08-04 01:12:43 PM  

Waldo Pepper: MugzyBrown: It's well with their rights if it was part of the contract.

Now if it makes business sense in another story... I have a feeling if this news becomes 'viral' they will regret it.

just curious how it is within their rights to control the future actions of guests of the person who signs the contract?


If the contract says no negative reviews, and you sign the contract, that's the contract.

Not that hard to figure out.


Business use non-disclosure agreements all of the time.  You may have one with your employer.
 
2014-08-04 01:13:06 PM  
Moment of zen : Their SEO analysis for the month...
 
2014-08-04 01:16:31 PM  

MugzyBrown: Waldo Pepper: MugzyBrown: It's well with their rights if it was part of the contract.

Now if it makes business sense in another story... I have a feeling if this news becomes 'viral' they will regret it.

just curious how it is within their rights to control the future actions of guests of the person who signs the contract?

If the contract says no negative reviews, and you sign the contract, that's the contract.

Not that hard to figure out.


Business use non-disclosure agreements all of the time.  You may have one with your employer.


Hah. No. Contracts don't work that way. There has to be "consideration". And any contract that says "You can't say anything bad about us or we fine you" doesn't have it.

In other words, the contract is illegal and unenforceable. This has been decided in court a few times in recent years.
 
2014-08-04 01:18:27 PM  

realmolo: Hah. No. Contracts don't work that way. There has to be "consideration". And any contract that says "You can't say anything bad about us or we fine you" doesn't have it.

In other words, the contract is illegal and unenforceable. This has been decided in court a few times in recent years.


Every separate point of a contract doesn't need separate consideration.

The consideration is they're allowing you to use their property and you're paying them money.
 
2014-08-04 01:19:42 PM  

MugzyBrown: Waldo Pepper: MugzyBrown: It's well with their rights if it was part of the contract.

Now if it makes business sense in another story... I have a feeling if this news becomes 'viral' they will regret it.

just curious how it is within their rights to control the future actions of guests of the person who signs the contract?

If the contract says no negative reviews, and you sign the contract, that's the contract.

Not that hard to figure out.


Business use non-disclosure agreements all of the time.  You may have one with your employer.


signing a contract that cannot be enforced by the signee doesn't make it legal.  None of the guest signed the contract as since they are guest both of the party and of the hotel I would think their experience on the hotel part is open to review without the party that signed the contract being held liable. 

i might be mistaken as i'm not even a fark lawyer but I thought all sections of a contract have to be doable for the contract to be enforceable.
 
2014-08-04 01:24:58 PM  

realmolo: MugzyBrown: Waldo Pepper: MugzyBrown: It's well with their rights if it was part of the contract.

Now if it makes business sense in another story... I have a feeling if this news becomes 'viral' they will regret it.

just curious how it is within their rights to control the future actions of guests of the person who signs the contract?

If the contract says no negative reviews, and you sign the contract, that's the contract.

Not that hard to figure out.


Business use non-disclosure agreements all of the time.  You may have one with your employer.

Hah. No. Contracts don't work that way. There has to be "consideration". And any contract that says "You can't say anything bad about us or we fine you" doesn't have it.

In other words, the contract is illegal and unenforceable. This has been decided in court a few times in recent years.


Not to mention a Contract of Adhesion.  There has to be equal bargaining power in a contract.  It kills me how people don't understand that concept.
 
2014-08-04 01:31:18 PM  

Waldo Pepper: signing a contract that cannot be enforced by the signee doesn't make it legal.  None of the guest signed the contract as since they are guest both of the party and of the hotel I would think their experience on the hotel part is open to review without the party that signed the contract being held liable. 

i might be mistaken as i'm not even a fark lawyer but I thought all sections of a contract have to be doable for the contract to be enforceable


I think you may be able to fight the 'non-refundable deposit' for a comment made by a guest, but having said that, most of my clients contracts that they sign with big telecom companies state that my client is responsible for the actions of pretty much anybody on the site on their behalf.  It's then up to my client to pass that liability down to their subcontractors.

Actual language: [you're responsible for the acts of] agents, licensees, invitees, employees, subcontractors, anyone directly or indirectly employed by them...
 
2014-08-04 01:32:34 PM  

Gary-L: There has to be equal bargaining power in a contract.  It kills me how people don't understand that concept.


No there doesn't.

This only comes into effect if there is ambiguous language in the contract.  It is then found to favor the one without bargaining power.

Just because you don't have bargaining power, it doesn't void the contract.
 
2014-08-04 01:35:00 PM  
If you like their review fee, you'll enjoy their cancellation policy.
http://www.unionstreetguesthouse.com/rates_policies.shtml
 
2014-08-04 01:46:44 PM  

MugzyBrown: Gary-L: There has to be equal bargaining power in a contract.  It kills me how people don't understand that concept.

No there doesn't.

This only comes into effect if there is ambiguous language in the contract.  It is then found to favor the one without bargaining power.

Just because you don't have bargaining power, it doesn't void the contract.


It doesn't void the contract, but it can void that particular clause or stipulation in order to restore balance.
 
2014-08-04 01:50:12 PM  

skozlaw: More like "crappy inn figures out how to get free advertising on the Internet."


I don't think they've thought their plan all the way through.
 
2014-08-04 01:51:01 PM  
Can't link from work, but now on their facebook page, the hotel says it was a joke that should have been taken in jest.
 
2014-08-04 01:52:07 PM  
FTFA: Hours after the harsh fines were first publicized by The New York Post, Union Street Guest House pulled the aforementioned text from its website and claimed the whole controversy was the result of "a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago." So it's all a big joke, if you believe the hotel, which also now says it's never enforced the policy. Old reviews from guests definitely mention being threatened with the $500 penalty, though some of those have been updated recently. Either way, with its Yelp ranking now completely in the toilet, Union Street Guest House is trying to reverse the stream of angry reviews and avoid the unwanted spotlight.

This sounds like a case of some extremely non-business-savvy hotel owners showing their ignorance of how the world actually works. The fastest way to have your business reputation trashed on the Internet is to threaten customers with some type of penalty if they trash your business reputation on the Internet.
 
2014-08-04 01:52:59 PM  

elvisaintdead: AKA  "The Babs Streisand Arms."


what a sack of dickbags.


Where do you keep extra sacks of dickbags?  In a bowl I would presume
 
2014-08-04 01:53:09 PM  

WelldeadLink: If you like their review fee, you'll enjoy their cancellation policy.
http://www.unionstreetguesthouse.com/rates_policies.shtml


Just going to the courthouse to get married seems more appealing by the day.... they're particularly biatchy about weddings, no?

That said, it's pretty clear that booking there unless you are anything but 100% certain you WILL be staying there, and if say, a hurricane tears through (as one did a couple of years ago) you can afford to eat the money if you can't get there, is a bad idea.  At least they put it right out there in print, and make it very clear.  That's what you're agreeing to if you book a room there.

That said, I am pretty sure contractually obliging someone to a positive review (or at a minimum, a review they consider to be positive) or silence is not going to fly in a court of law.  The cancellation policy is a totally different thing.  They may be a bit harsh, but this isn't exactly a hotbed of travel, and it is probably only booked for specific occasions. They're not likely to have someone walk in off the street and take a last-minute vacant room like say, a hotel in NYC or a ski lodge in VT in January.
 
2014-08-04 01:54:42 PM  
Seen sitting on a curb nearby, waiting for a phone call....

img2u.info
 
2014-08-04 01:55:04 PM  

slayer199: This will not end well.

Where's Anthony Melchiorri when you need him.  I remember where he took an owner to task for responding negatively to a review rather than fixing the service that led to the poor review.

The other thing I have to ask is if it's even legal for them to do this.


Exactly. They are in a service industry. The smart way to handle a bad review is to politely thank the reviewer for the review, state that the problem will be fixed, potentially offer compensation to the reviewer if the situation described was bad enough, and then go and fix it. Something like this is just combative and turns off future guests.
 
2014-08-04 01:58:20 PM  
Well, so much for the old saw that, "There's no such thing as bad publicity".
 
2014-08-04 02:01:31 PM  

greentea1985: Exactly. They are in a service industry. The smart way to handle a bad review is to politely thank the reviewer for the review, state that the problem will be fixed, potentially offer compensation to the reviewer if the situation described was bad enough, and then go and fix it. Something like this is just combative and turns off future guests.


I really don't think they give two shiats.   They're prickly, greedy assholes, and have now been exposed to the light of day.

WelldeadLink: If you like their review fee, you'll enjoy their cancellation policy.
http://www.unionstreetguesthouse.com/rates_policies.shtml

 
2014-08-04 02:02:59 PM  
I take care of a 60 room beach motel. Built in 1950, it's been updated but still on Olde Cape Cod place. Charm, character, charisma.
Booking a wedding? Have your picky guests stay at the Hampton Inn. Please.
I know an Innkeeper with an 1800's captain's home B&B, furnished with antiques. Review: Furniture needs to be updated.

/We're NOT the other hotel.
 
2014-08-04 02:14:05 PM  

Betep: I take care of a 60 room beach motel. Built in 1950, it's been updated but still on Olde Cape Cod place. Charm, character, charisma.
Booking a wedding? Have your picky guests stay at the Hampton Inn. Please.
I know an Innkeeper with an 1800's captain's home B&B, furnished with antiques. Review: Furniture needs to be updated.

/We're NOT the other hotel.


The reviewer needs a slap, but I suspect that the innkeeper doesn't have an idiotic policy like the people in the article
 
2014-08-04 02:25:21 PM  
640 bad yelp reviews and counting...
 
2014-08-04 02:25:38 PM  

loonatic112358: I know an Innkeeper with an 1800's captain's home B&B, furnished with antiques. Review: Furniture needs to be updated.

/We're NOT the other hotel.

The reviewer needs a slap, but I suspect that the innkeeper doesn't have an idiotic policy like the people in the article


Anyone with a brain reading that would laugh at the idiot review.

Also: one bad review will not wreck a business, but the business blowing it out of proportion will certainly give it a fighting chance.  70 good reviews and one bad? Let it go, most people will see the 70:1 ratio.  My dentist, for example, has one of the best Yelp pages I have ever seen and yet, there's one or two people who couldn't afford/finance something and that somehow made her the worst dentist in the history of dentistry in their eyes. It was easy to see someone was pissed about something out of the dentist's control (since they work hard to secure Care Credit for expensive work, but don't personally finance and tell patients this up front).
 
2014-08-04 02:29:00 PM  

MugzyBrown: Waldo Pepper: MugzyBrown: It's well with their rights if it was part of the contract.

Now if it makes business sense in another story... I have a feeling if this news becomes 'viral' they will regret it.

just curious how it is within their rights to control the future actions of guests of the person who signs the contract?

If the contract says no negative reviews, and you sign the contract, that's the contract.

Not that hard to figure out.


Business use non-disclosure agreements all of the time.  You may have one with your employer.


Actually, contact law is more complicated. You can not be held by the actions of people not under contract. Their are also many ways a contract can be unenforceable. For example, a contract isn't a contract unless both parties are going to receive something. One way contracts are not legal.

You also have hotel acts. Most states hotel rules are not enforceable unless the rules are clearly posted at the front desk. Not at a website.
 
2014-08-04 02:32:18 PM  

chevydeuce: Can't link from work, but now on their facebook page, the hotel says it was a joke that should have been taken in jest.


Um yeah, the FB page is actually even funnier than the reviews.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=933782056648102&id =1 17548518271464
 
2014-08-04 02:35:30 PM  

MugzyBrown: Gary-L: There has to be equal bargaining power in a contract.  It kills me how people don't understand that concept.

No there doesn't.

This only comes into effect if there is ambiguous language in the contract.  It is then found to favor the one without bargaining power.

Just because you don't have bargaining power, it doesn't void the contract.


Is there a legal definition for "negative review"?  I would imagine that term needs to be spelled out in detail on said contract before we got into any of the more obscure/legal issues of consideration etc.

/not a lawyer, educated on contract law just enough to know what questions to ask, sometimes.
 
2014-08-04 02:38:26 PM  

ginandbacon: chevydeuce: Can't link from work, but now on their facebook page, the hotel says it was a joke that should have been taken in jest.

Um yeah, the FB page is actually even funnier than the reviews.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=933782056648102&id =1 17548518271464


IANAL but if they're now claiming that it as all a joke in order to save face it will be interesting to see if anyone who was charged the $500 "fine" goes back and says "Since it was a joke, give me my money back".

This is trainwreckesque to watch unfold.
 
2014-08-04 02:40:15 PM  

ginandbacon: Um yeah, the FB page is actually even funnier than the reviews.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=933782056648102&id =1 17548518271464


...and there's their education in how the Internet works.

If I still worked at my old job, I'd be using this as an example as to why I would never agree to create and manage a Facebook page for an educational company where students, clients (parents) and teachers could all have unfettered access to a page representing the business in case any one got pissed off, or there was inappropriate interaction.  Or worse, both at the same time (like a parent and a teacher takinga  disagreement public.)
 
2014-08-04 02:45:16 PM  
And...the FB page is down.
 
2014-08-04 02:54:40 PM  

squidloe: And...the FB page is down.


That's hilarious. People are just pissing all over their garden post now.
 
2014-08-04 03:07:59 PM  

Betep: I take care of a 60 room beach motel. Built in 1950, it's been updated but still on Olde Cape Cod place. Charm, character, charisma.
Booking a wedding? Have your picky guests stay at the Hampton Inn. Please.
I know an Innkeeper with an 1800's captain's home B&B, furnished with antiques. Review: Furniture needs to be updated.

/We're NOT the other hotel.


This.

The problem with wedding parties is its usually full of drunken slob relatives. This hotel in TFA is only trying to make the wedding hosts accountable for their poor gene pool.
 
2014-08-04 03:08:24 PM  

ginandbacon: squidloe: And...the FB page is down.

That's hilarious. People are just pissing all over their garden post now.


Given the internet rage I'm guessing this place will literally be on fire later this afternoon/early this evening.
 
2014-08-04 03:10:09 PM  

mjohnson71: ginandbacon: squidloe: And...the FB page is down.

That's hilarious. People are just pissing all over their garden post now.

Given the internet rage I'm guessing this place will literally be on fire later this afternoon/early this evening.


Because internet warriors are so likely to leave their basements and take action?
 
2014-08-04 03:23:59 PM  

ginandbacon: Given the internet rage I'm guessing this place will literally be on fire later this afternoon/early this evening.

Because internet warriors are so likely to leave their basements and take action?


And more than half of them are just bored on what appears to be a slow Monday (there are significantly less job postings than usual today and more people seem to be screwing about on FB than usual as well) and having fun with the low-hanging fruit since things like this get around pretty fast.  I'm sure most of them never heard of the place/aren't in the area.
 
2014-08-04 03:24:15 PM  

ginandbacon: mjohnson71: ginandbacon: squidloe: And...the FB page is down.

That's hilarious. People are just pissing all over their garden post now.

Given the internet rage I'm guessing this place will literally be on fire later this afternoon/early this evening.

Because internet warriors are so likely to leave their basements and take action?


Or because the owners are the type to go "fark it" and burn the place for insurance money :)
 
2014-08-04 03:27:06 PM  

Betep: I take care of a 60 room beach motel. Built in 1950, it's been updated but still on Olde Cape Cod place. Charm, character, charisma.
Booking a wedding? Have your picky guests stay at the Hampton Inn. Please.
I know an Innkeeper with an 1800's captain's home B&B, furnished with antiques. Review: Furniture needs to be updated.

/We're NOT the other hotel.


And your good customers know how to read those types of reviews. If I'm looking for an olde tyme BnB and there's a review complaining about old furniture, I know I've found the right place.

Whenever I'm looking at reviews I spend at least as much time on the negative as the positive reviews. I want to know the "why" behind a negative review, and about a third of all negative reviews turn out to be at least immaterial, if not actually positive.

Reviews like your example of an antique BnB, reviews of a seafood restaurant complaining about no hamburger on the menu, etc. Amazon had tons of reviews of electronic gadgets from people who apparently had no idea what they were buying. "Awful coffee maker!" (review attached to external hard drive)

If you're the business owner or seller, clarify in a response of the review system allows; ignore the review if it doesn't. In either case, it should be clear the proper response is not threats and fines.
 
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