New York hotel faces backlash after charging clients for bad reviews

An image of the website for the Union An image of the website for the Union Street Guest House, retrieved on Aug. 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Unionstreetguesthouse.com

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HUDSON, New York

The Union Street Guest House, a small boutique hotel in Hudson, NY, is threatening to charge guests for posting negative reviews online is facing a backlash.

The Union Street Guest House’s website said it would charge couples who booked its facilities for weddings $500 for every negative review it found on the Internet but removed this language after a public outrcy. 

According to the New York Post, the website stated “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

The website was updated Monday to say: “Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not,” the website says. “Your guests may not understand what we offer - therefore we expect you to explain that to them.” 

Yelp has more than 650 reviews of the hotel -- many of which were added Monday -- with an average one-star rating: 

“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 [will] 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.‘"

Whatever you do, don't cancel. Don't try to call or email them to change your schedule because no one will answer. Regardless of the date or the season, you will not be able to change your reservation. And they will not reimburse you. So yah, eek.”

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A post by the hotel calling the policy “tongue-in-cheek” was also removed from its Facebook page Monday afternoon, which has been flooded with negative comments.

"I hear you guys don't like bad reviews... Maybe improve the service?" one Facebook user posted. 

"You guys should probably close down," another commented.

However, in an email to CNBC, the Union Street Guest House said the policy was just a joke.

"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," the hotel said in the email.

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