Tripadvisor is warning potential visitors to a Thai hotel that they could face dire consequences for complaining too harshly about their experience — just like one guest who was thrown in jail over his negative reviews.
The travel-review platform slapped a special notice on its listing for the Sea View Resort & Spa in Koh Chang, Thailand, which had an American visitor named Wesley Barnes arrested after he criticized the hotel online.
Tripadvisor said it took the unusual step to make sure other travelers knew about the Sea View’s “extraordinary” action against Barnes, who was reportedly freed after reaching a settlement with the oceanside island resort.
“Most negative reviews posted are valuable customer service and learning experiences for businesses who choose to constructively engage this feedback,” Massachusetts-based Tripadvisor told The Post in a statement. “However, Tripadvisor strongly opposes any action where a business, like the Sea View Hotel & Spa in Koh Chang, uses local law to send someone to jail for expressing their opinion.”
The Sea View had Barnes detained after he wrote several negative reviews on Tripadvisor and other sites, including one accusing the hotel of “modern day slavery,” Agence France Presse reported
The resort’s use of Thailand’s notoriously tough anti-defamation laws apparently alarmed Tripadvisor, which explicitly warned users in its notice that Barnes spent time behind bars as a result of the criminal charges filed against him.
“The hotel may have been exercising its legal rights under local law, however, it is our role to inform you so you may take this into consideration when researching your travel plans,” the label reads.
The Sea View did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. But the hotel issued a statement to The New York Times accusing Tripadvisor of breaking its part of the settlement that was reached with Barnes.
The resort agreed to drop the complaint if Barnes apologized and convinced Tripadvisor not to place a so-called “red badge” on the hotel’s listing, which could harm its business, according to the Times. Tripadvisor reportedly provided Barnes with a letter making such a pledge.
“We fail to understand how Tripadvisor going back on their word, and not being impartial, is helpful to any of the parties involved in this case,” the Sea View told the Times.
Tripadvisor executive Bradford Young countered that it had not violated any terms of the letter, which it sent Barnes to ensure his safety, the paper reported.