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Hotel negative review policy spurs online backlash

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 5:05 p.m. CDT

NEW YORK – A hotel received a flood of online criticism Monday following reports that it threatened to charge $500 if guests posted negative reviews.

The New York Post reported early Monday that the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, N.Y., warned on its website that "a $500 fine ... will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review placed on any Internet site by anyone in your party." The policy was aimed at guests booking the inn for weddings and other events.

The hotel, about 100 miles north of New York City, apparently removed the warning from its website after the Post story was published and picked up by other media. The hotel then explained on its Facebook page that the policy on fines was "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."

By late Monday afternoon, the hotel appeared to have removed the "tongue-in-cheek" explanation from its Facebook page.

After the original New York Post story was picked up by many websites, readers began posting dozens of phony one-star reviews on the hotel's Yelp listing, many with absurd claims ("none of the rooms have beds"). Some posters said the bogus write-ups were deserved, though at least one gave a five-star review to the maligned hotel out of pity.

The hotel's phone went unanswered Monday afternoon and the hotel did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

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