Furore over couple fined £100 by hotel for posting bad review
Commenting on this Jan Vels Jenson, CMO at Trustpilot says “This response to a recent customer complaint shows how it can all go sour if businesses don’t take the need for transparency in online reviews seriously. It’s key to get it right first time before damage to the brand is done.
“Businesses must reach out to all customers, not just the ones who are likely to be happy. Every type of customer should be empowered to review their business as not all customers are the same and consumers are more likely to believe reviews if they mirror the experience they have had or expect to have with a business. Our research shows that 95 per cent of unhappy customers will return if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently. All reviews, both the good and the bad, open up possibilities to build credibility, popularity and reputation.”
The warning comes after a West Cumbrian couple were stung for £100 by a Blackpool hotel after posting a negative online review on Trip Advisor.
When the Whitehaven couple discovered an unexpected £100 charge on their credit card they contacted the hotel and the manager of the hotel on Burlington Road West stated they had a ‘no bad review policy’ in their terms and conditions.
The policy stated: ‘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’.
The couple then contacted the council’s Trading Standards team to complain about the matter.
John Greenbank, Trading Standards Area Manager North, said: “I have worked for Trading Standards for many years and have never seen anything like this. The hotel management clearly thinks that they have come up with a novel way to prevent bad reviews, however we believe this could be deemed an unfair trading practice.”
Cumbria County Council’s Trading Standard say this policy could be deemed an unfair term under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and therefore have passed it on to colleagues at Blackpool Trading Standards to investigate. The couple have sought a refund via their credit card company.
Cllr John McCreesh, Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said: “Customers need to be free to be honest about the service they’re getting. Other customers depend upon it. Hotel owners should focus on getting their service right rather than shutting down aggrieved customers with threats and fines. People should have the right to vent their disappointment if a hotel stay did not meet their expectations and should not be prevented from having their say.”