Monday, August 4, 2014

Hotel Stops At NOTHING To Stop Bad Reviews; Imposes $500 Fines If Your Friends Hate The Place

An angry chill has descended on
the Union Street Guest House
in Hudson, NY and it has nothing
to do with winter weather.  
UPDATE: To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Union Street Guest House has rescinded its policy of fining people for negative reviews on Yelp and other online rating sites.

The owners said the whole thing was put on the web site years ago as a joke and never taken down.

Uh, right, whatever.  Now I wonder if they will ever recover from the shitstorm they created for themselves:

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION: The owners of New York State inn have discovered the obvious: If you have a draconian policy against negative reviews, you're going to get LOTS of negative reviews.

A place called the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, NY tells people that if you have a wedding in the area, and your guests stay at Union Street Guest House in Hudson,  then write a negative review about the place, you're subject to a $500 fine for each negative review, says the inn's owners

Here, let's have the inn itself explain the situation to you themselves, in all their pretentious, horrible glory:

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

Yes, the EXPECT you to explain that to them. Like little children. To stay at this inn, apparently you have to be as pretentious as the owners.

Anyway, the inn's verbiage goes on:

"USGH and Hudson are historic. The builders here are old (but restored). Our bathrooms and kitchens are designed to look old in an artistic "vintage" way. Our furniture is mostly hip, period furniture that you would see in many design magazines. (although comfortable and functional-obvious all beds are brand new.) 

If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel, they may not like it here."

I already don't like it there and I haven't seen the place. The hip period furniture, as they put it, might be cool, or maybe they got them at a third rate garage sale in Schenectady, for all I know.

Do the bathrooms look old in a charming way, or are the toilets tilted, leaking and so full of rust you can establish an iron mine in the bathroom?

So here's the bottom line:

"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."

And who decides if the review is actually negative?  If someone wrote, "The place was awesome, but my only complaint was one chair was slightly uncomfortable," does that earn a $500 fine?

The bigger question is, why would anyone want to stay at this inn with the policy in place? I'd be terrified one of my wedding guests would write something negative just for fun, and I'd be out $500.

Who wants to take that risk?

The inn generously (HA!) says it will rescind the fine if the review is taken off line.

As I noted, the best way to generate negative reviews is to whine that you don't want negative reviews and try to make people pay ridiculous amounts of money if they do.

I've got an idea! Why doesn't the Union Street Guest House ensure the place is comfortable and the staff is nice? I bet that would put the kabosh on negative reviews a lot faster than a fine of any dollar amount.

With news of their ridiculous fine rattling so fast around the Internet, Yelp is now rife with people saying terrible things about the Union Street Guest House. Some are kinda funny, too.

Here's one:

"Feel the power of the Internet
While you are getting wrecked
Hope it drills some sense into you
Coz this is going to be a long day for you."

Here's another good one:

"This place is actually kind of decent. Derek, who was working the front desk, had pee stains on his trousers, but I'm only deducting one star because it wasn't immediately clear whether the pee was his or someone else's.

Plus the vintage bed clothes gave me herbes, but I'm looking at that as a positive because it's one more way of getting out of having sex with my husband while his dorky cousin  Ben Reiter looks on.

There was also a super sweet chaise lounge in our room, though it smelled a touch musty. Every negative had a corresponding positive, and vice versa, hence three stars. Would I stay here again? Yes, if Derek paid me to, like last time."

Most of the hue and cry on Yelp is more along the lines of the inn taking people's free speech away, but  that only applies to the government. However, there might be a grey area on speech involving public accommodations, so we have to see if there's any lawsuits, or threats of any.

Hudson, NY has revived in recent years and now it seems like it's a great place to visit. I just might do so. But I'm sure I'll find great accommodations other than the Union Street Guest House.

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