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N.Y. hotel fines guests $500 for negative online reviews

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2014

A New York hotel is learning the hard way that Americans like their free speech.

The Union Street Guest House, in Hudson, began fining couples who book their wedding there $500 for every negative review written by one of their guests, the New York Post reported.

"Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not," the hotel's online policy said. "This is due to the fact that your guests may not understand what we offer — therefore we expect you to explain that to them."

The policy goes on to suggest that the hotel's "hip, period furniture" may not be palatable to guests looking for a more "Marriott-type hotel."

"[T]here will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event. If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500. fine for each negative review," the policy said, The Post reported.

The policy appeared to have been deleted by Monday afternoon, but the damage had already been done. Guests and internet trolls are flooding the hotel's Yelp page to protest the policy.

"Getting a one star for the policy penalizing guests for making a bad review. Maybe you should focus on customer service instead of trying to intimidate guests into not reviewing you properly," wrote Glenn S.

"Horrible policies created by a Gestapo-like management trying to intimidate customers into leaving good reviews," wrote T.M.

The Post reported that the hotel's thin-skinned proprietors on Yelp aggressively criticize bad reviews as "mean-spirited nonsense," and "she made all of this up."

In response to a review complaining of rude treatment over a bucket of ice, the proprietors shot back: "I know you guys wanted to hang out and get drunk for 2 days and that is fine. I was really really sorry that you showed up in the summer when it was 105 degrees … I was so so so sorry that our ice maker and fridge were not working and not accessible," The Post reported.

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