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Did NY hotel's policy call for $500 fines for bad reviews?

Hotel Charges Bride And Groom $500 For Negative Reviews

A New York hotel faced online criticism when the media heard about its supposed policy of fining brides and grooms $500 for each negative review written by them or their wedding guests. But was the whole thing a joke?

That hotel is the Union Street Guest House, located in Hudson, New York, near the Catskills. On its website, it boasts the hotel, built in 1830, is nestled between estates built by the Rockefeller and Vanderbilt families.

The website also contained a "policy" that read, in part: "There 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." The hotel said it would give the money back if the negative review was deleted.

A writer for Time pointed out this line from the policy, which it called "hilariously stuffy":

"Your guests may not understand what we offer--therefore we expect you to explain that to them."
But now the hotel is saying the whole policy was one big joke.

It told CNBC: "The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced."

This isn't the only report of the hotel's push-back against negative reviews. According to Page Six, employees of the hotel find negative reviews and then add comments about the reviewer. The publication combed through Internet review sites and highlights one comment the hotel made in response to a review about a bucket of ice. The comment can be interpreted as, well, a bit patronizing.

​"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."

We decided to do some digging of our own on Yelp and discovered the majority of the reviews given for the hotel are, indeed, bad ones. And, unsurprisingly, since people heard about the supposed $500 charge, the number of negative comments increased.

One reviewer wrote, "A company that fiscally backlashes at customers on their opinions and experience in their establishment should not be in business."

We should mention a few positive reviews were made back in 2011 and 2012, all of which commented on the hotel's amenities and staff.

The policy about fining people for negative reviews has since been removed from the hotel's website.

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JIM August 05 2014 at 11:20 AM

We all know liberals can't take criticism. And they are always looking for free money. So this was their way of doing both without doing any actual work on their part, the liberal dream, money for nothing.

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4 replies
Mike August 05 2014 at 8:15 AM

You don't have to stay there to know that it sucks.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
grudgrime August 05 2014 at 12:18 PM

If you read reviews carefully you can usually tell fake reviews that are made by staff and owners. If you've ever looked at apartmentratings.com. It's the same thing.

I lived in one apartment that was a total dump. The architecture was nice so you wouldn't know how dumpy it was until you moved in. I didn't know about apartment ratings yet. When found out, I gave on honest yet really negative review. Funny that after about each 15 bad reviews 3 really vague but positive reviews would show. Most people had them pegged.

Moral of the story. Read reviews carefully, you can tell who is honest, which ones are fake, and who just has expectations that are over the top and has no business reviewing.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
TripleXKimberly August 05 2014 at 7:43 AM

Absurd! That is the point of having a comment section to begin with. Did the hotel think they were going to get all good reviews every time?! You let a Hotel try and charge me money for making a negative comment which is mine or anyone's right to do. Not Happening.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
R August 05 2014 at 9:08 AM

Will never go to that place!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
ibe1grump R August 05 2014 at 9:15 PM

Neither will I. Not because of the hotel stand on reviews, but because I live in California. Not worth the trip.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Dan P August 05 2014 at 9:31 AM

I guess if it was a joke, the joke is on them in the way of bad comments. I would not give them my business.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
grudgrime August 05 2014 at 12:26 PM

This was on Yelp from 11/21/13 - so this policy actually WAS in place then!!!!

The management of this hotel had the gall to email us twice to threaten us financially about the negative review! Here is an excerpt from their first email:

"please note that your recent on-line review of our Inn will cost the wedding party that left us a deposit $500. This money be charged via the deposit they have left us unless/until it is removed. Any other or future reviews will also be charged to the wedding party (bride & groom) from the guarantee they have provided us. "

Disgusting! Instead of taking responsibility and striving to improve their customer service, they instead resort to intimidation!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
fortcork grudgrime August 06 2014 at 12:38 AM

What do you expect coming from new york

Flag Reply 0 rate up
david clayton August 05 2014 at 9:02 AM

lighten up people….

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Judith August 05 2014 at 2:10 PM

Why is it that the stupid (and often bigoted or racist) things done or said by business owners, celebrities, politicians, etc. turn out to be just a joke but only AFTER they get criticized for it?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
quincy_maxwell August 05 2014 at 11:59 AM

Once written online....remains forever.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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