Bad online review earns couple an early checkout from hotel

woman sleeping in an airportTravel blogs heated up this week when the Blackpool Gazette ran the story of Adrian Healey and Sherrie Andrews, a couple on vacation to celebrate a successful round of chemo who were kicked out of their hotel by an angry hotel manager who accused the couple of posting a negative review of the business on TripAdvisor and enlisted the police to remove them without a refund.

Healey says they did not post the negative review and it's hard to say what review the manager read, given that 59% of the reviews on TripAdvisor are in the "do not recommend" category. Still, they suffered the very real consequences of posting a negative online review.

While there are times for taking to social media to air a complaint in the middle of your stay, for the most part, you'll be better off taking your concerns straight to the management -- especially at small businesses where the on-duty manager may also be the owner -- and in most cases have a very high interest in making your visit enjoyable. The exception would be if your complaint is likely to be seen by an official customer service rep, or high ranking company official.

When you do get ready to post your review online, our tips for avoiding a lawsuit from an online review will come in handy for avoiding negative consequences of posting online reviews.
  1. Stick to the facts: Don't embellish or exaggerate.
  2. Write for the benefit of others: Don't rant on and on. Share the important information that you wish you knew before booking.
  3. Cool off: Sure, go ahead and type up your review while you are hot under the collar, but e-mail it to yourself and take a look at it the next day, after you've switched hotels, before posting to a site like TripAdvisor.
Stories like this one don't come up too often, but when a business handles a customer complaint the wrong way, it's typically in a big fashion. Earlier this year, a Chicago concrete company sued an individual for a negative review on Angie's List, and there have been a few other case studies on how not to handle negative online reviews.

Have you ever suffered negative consequences for posting an online review? Share them in the comments below.
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