A couple from Whitehaven have been 'fined' £100 for describing a hotel as a "rotten stinking hovel" on Trip Advisor.
The Broadway Hotel, in Blackpool, said it is their policy to charge for 'bad' reviews after Tony and Jan Jenkinson found their credit card had been charged.
When the couple discovered the unexpected charge on their credit card they contacted the hotel and the manager said 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.
“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 Standards 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.
“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.”
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