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The cost of a review — Should one refrain from negatively reviewing a hotel?


Should one refrain from negatively reviewing a hotel? A recent incident has triggered this question. It all started when an American expat in Thailand was sued for leaving a negative review of a hotel online. Despite the hotel claiming to be accommodating to the guest and waiving a corkage fee he brought into the restaurant, the man used abusive language towards the staff and then left a negative review online. The hotel asked him to delete the review and, when he refused, a police report was filed. This caused the man to be arrested.


Wesley Barnes, the American guest, publicly apologised last month for his blunt online reviews of Sea View Koh Chang resort in Thailand. In exchange, the hotel promised it would drop the complaint that led authorities in Thailand to file criminal defamation charges against him. In his review, Barnes had written about encountering “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here” after a stay at the resort, which is famed for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters. In another review that was taken down by the site for violating its guidelines, he accused the hotel of “modern day slavery”. After the resort sued Barnes, he spent two days in custody and was charged under Thailand’s strict defamation laws—the maximum sentence is two years along with a 200,000-baht ($6,300) fine.

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