Business Receives Backlash After Fining for Negative Reviews

A business in Hudson, NY received bad press after threatening to fine customers $500 for leaving bad reviews on social media sites.

The Union Street Guest House hotel now claims this policy was for laughs, but according to a guest, the hotel bullied them after they left a negative review.  The hotel emailed the guest threatening to fine the reviewer and charge the bride and groom of the wedding party they were with for any future negative reviews about the hotel.

The customer complained about the threatening email on Yelp. Since the media caught wind of the incident, the hotel’s Yelp star rating has dropped to a 1.5. The story made headlines in primetime news reports, the Business Insider and Time magazine, bringing even more negative press to the hotel.

Stories like this highlight the importance of being educated on proper online review etiquette.  In statements to the press, the owner of the Union Street Guest House admitted to being under-educated on social media and vowed to do better in the future. Unfortunately, it will be difficult for the business to regain its online footing after an incident this impactful.

To prevent online tension from growing, always follow these 5 rules when responding to reviews:

  1. Take a few moments to calm down if the review riles you.
  2. Apologize.
  3. Tell the patient you will work to fix the issue and confront the employees involved in the incident.
  4. If you need more information about the complaint, ask the patient to call the office.
  5. Have a meeting with staff to talk about the issue, so it doesn’t escalate into a larger problem later.

If you are interested in learning more about monitoring and managing your online presence through our Reputation Management program, contact Elizabeth Wuellner or Katie DePriest for more information.


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