A couple say they were 'fined' £100 by a Blackpool hotel for leaving a negative review on Tripadvisor.
Tony and Jan Jenkinson, from Cumbria, were on their way to visit family in Oxford, and decided to split their journey up. They chose to stay at the Broadway Hotel and paid £36 for the double room.
After being unhappy with their stay, they left a scathing review on Tripadvisor, which complained of wallpaper peeling off, thin, dirty carpet, kettle and hot tap not working, and a dirty bed.
It described the breakfast as a "joke" and, according to the Guardian, finished: "This place should be shut down, I don't know if they are ever inspected, but if so, I don't know how this place has passed!!
"If you are offered this place to stay for a fortnight for 10p, you are being robbed!! STAY AWAY!!!"
They later found £100 charged to their credit card by the hotel.
According to the BBC, the couple didn't see the hotel policy of charging for negative reviews, which is contained in a booking document. It says: "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."
Speaking to the BBC, John Greenbank, north trading standards area manager, said it was a "novel" way to prevent bad reviews.
He said: "I have worked for trading standards for many years and have never seen anything like this.
"The hotel management clearly thinks they have come up with a novel way to prevent bad reviews, however we believe this could be deemed an unfair trading practice."
Cllr John McCreesh, Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, told the Daily Telegraph: "This is outrageous behaviour by the hotel concerned and an attack on free speech. The couple say they posted an honest review about the hotel which they feel was below par and they were stung for £100 as a result.
"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."
But the couple can now breathe a sigh of relief, because they have been told their £100 will be reimbursed.
Blackpool council said on Wednesday that the couple will get their money back and the hotel will scrap its policy.
Gillian Campbell, council cabinet member responsible for public protection at the local authority, told the Guardian: "Our trading standards team became aware of this issue last week. As a result, we have spoken to the hotel owner and asked for the policy to be removed, which has now happened.
"This is a unique case and not one that we have come across before."
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Hotel 'fines' couple £100 for posting negative Tripadvisor review
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Within walking distance of historic Windsor Great Park, Coworth Park is a gateway to the breathtaking views and heritage sites that make the southeast of England such a fascinating and rewarding region to visit. An eco-luxury spa and horse riding are just some of the offerings to keep you occupied. "Gorgeous setting, fabulous staff... little extra touches that make it extra special... totally professional and efficient yet the atmosphere is completely tranquil and relaxed," says one reviewer.
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Independently owned and managed, Longueville Manor boasts 30 bedrooms and suites, a renowned restaurant and perfect surroundings. It is the island's sole member of the world's finest collection of small hotels and restaurants, Relais & Châteaux. "I would recommend this hotel if you are planning a break to recharge your batteries and experience exquisite surroundings and excellent service," says one reviewer. Double rooms from £100.
The ideally positioned Soho Hotel, just off Oxford Street, is a modern, chic hotel with dramatic urban design and furnishings. Rooms are luxurious and spacious with great views of London. "Perfect location for walking everywhere. Very attentive service from front desk and restaurant staff. Rooms are large and well designed and equipped. Most comfy beds and pillows ever," says one reviewer. Double rooms from £354.
The cubist, modern facade of Casa in Chesterfield doesn't look like it hides a top rated hotel. There isn't a claw-footed bathtub or oil painting in sight: instead you'll find rain showers, LCD TVs and the Cocina restaurant where the chefs use Spanish charcoal-fired ovens to create Mediterranean dishes."We always stay here when we come to Chesterfield, it is brilliant in every way! Couldn't fault it!" says one reviewer. Double rooms from £99.
Situated in the beautiful countryside with wonderful views of the parkland golf courses, the AA 4 star luxury Derbyshire hotel, Morley Hayes is worthy of a top 10 position. From the Penthouse Suite to the Executive Room, the Honeymoon Suite to the Family Room you will be spoilt for choice. "Hotel is first class, the food is excellent. Well worth every penny. You would not be disappointed," says one reviewer. Double rooms from £200.
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