http://www.yelp.com/biz/union-street-guest-house-hudson?sort... 10 negative Yelp reviews have been posted today (so far), ouch...
Their website navigation is a very discrete image map in the middle of the page, http://www.unionstreetguesthouse.com/ obviously this was someone's first website.
It's probably not legal, if it is then it is unenforceable in court, even if it was in their terms contract.
Here is the page with their $500 review fee policy: http://www.unionstreetguesthouse.com/events_weddings.shtml
I don't condone leaving negative reviews if you haven't stayed there, but if you do be sure to note that you have not stayed at the hotel and are just commenting on their policies to warn people, unless that is against the review sites policy, then don't do that.
If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event 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. (Please NOTE we will not charge this fee &/or will refund this fee once the review is taken down). Also, please note that we only request this of wedding parties and for the reasons explained above.
Being lazy and not reading it myself: do they attempt to adequately explain the policy other than "we'd like to be able to be dickish without getting bad reviews" in "the reasons explained above"?
(edit for those only reading this far: it appears that they do, see the replies to this post for detail)
A company that threatens to fine me for giving them a negative review is much more likely to actually receive a negative review from me.
And a company that actually fines me would be much more likely to receive a chargeback, formal complaints to any relevant regulators, or even for that kind of money a small claims suit.
I'm not really sure how they expect to win with this policy, particularly since they're presumably about to get more negative publicity than every bad review they ever avoided and searching for them on-line will probably lead to dozens of critical comments forever now.
Bottom line is that people are smart enough to filter out bad reviews.
The problem is that the software generally filters first - e.g. "show me the 'best of'" or "sort by top rated". If you're looking at a selection of hundreds of items, I don't know that your statement holds.
In a nutshell, the scalar fallacy is the false but pervasive assumption that real-world things (hotels, sandwiches, people, mutual funds, chemo drugs, whatever) have some single-dimension ordering of "goodness".
When you project a multi-dimensional space down to one dimension, you are involving a lot of context and preferences in the act of projecting. Just sayin'.
Some people are very sensitive to wait times, I’m just not at all. I can always discount all reviews complaining about wait times because there isn’t enough useful signal there. Sure, even I don’t want to wait three hours for my food, but most people seem to complain way before that and that’s just not relevant information to me.
Contrary, when people tell me what a great experience they had with the staff and that the owner came to their table and chatted with them I know I should probably avoid that restaurant because I just can’t stand any staff or owners acting like they are my best friends immediately.
So, sure, for written reviews it’s often possible to see whether a criticism is relevant for your own personal tastes, but all those review places also implement star ratings and those are used to display and filter the places you are shown in the first place. So you might not even see a place you like because it got bad ratings based on (completely valid, by the way, I’m not saying other people have to also be as tolerant of wait times as I am!) factors you personally don’t care about.
This affects other places as well, for example apps in app stores. I’m not sure how to solve this, to be honest, but that seems like a cool problem to tackle. I’m imagining Netflix-like personalised lists of restaurants or hotels you might like, not these dumb global star ratings.
Does this already exist somewhere? I feel like it should. Surely someone must have already tried that …
This tends to be a part of a broad cultural expectation. Americans tend to equate "good service" with [fake] niceness and obligated smiles and cheeriness. Some other cultures are different where good service means simply doing your job. I can't count how many times people have gone to other countries and complained about the "poor service" and "everyone is rude here" not even considering cultural differences.
The US has gone insane in that respect with obligated "niceties."
Now when I go to Walgreens they say to me after any transaction "be well." Seriously? Like I believe the cashier ringing up my candy and soda purchase personally cares about my well being and health? Or that it is adding anything of value to the transaction?
Its a corporate slogan with tie-ins to Walgreen's marketing and branding. Like most aspects of branding, its not designed to operate at the level of rational thought and analysis at all. Its more like the use of corporate colors and logos on retail employees uniforms, but in auditory rather than visual form.
I stayed at a hotel where the reviews were almost all negative with comments like "the furniture was outdated and the TV was a CRT."
What to I care about in a hotel? A clean bed to sleep on and a shower. That's it. I stay at hotels just to sleep in and wash up.
That doesn't mean, obviously, that we try to fine anyone for those reviews. We trust people reading reviews will realize when complaints don't make sense, and have good reviews that outweigh the bad.
The people paying for the rooms are unhappy with them. They leave negative reviews. Perhaps the next wedding couple doesn't dig into the reviews and just skips over that place in favor of somewhere the guests will enjoy more. So the reviewers end up benefiting future would-be-customers, albeit indirectly.
If the hotel doesn't like this dynamic they can simply refuse to book wedding parties.
If we were in an understanding world the guests who wouldn't normally go to a place like that (and won't/don't enjoy it) but are because it is part of a big event like a wedding, would not leave bad reviews on that basis on the understanding that it is what the bride/groom/others wanted and they are happy.
But we are not in such a world and there are people out there who will leave a bad review because they went to somewhere they would never like on its own merits and don't like it...
I can't say I like their way of dealing with it and can see why people are up in arms, but I can see the problem that they are trying to protect themselves from.
10 negative Yelp reviews have been posted today (so far), ouch...
This appears to be from someone associated with the hotel in question: http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=igHDMTIuS5wYBi0KZ0jt...
It's at about 90 negative reviews posted today on Yelp.
Edit: now it's at 400+ negative Yelp reviews for the day.
Surprisingly their TripAdvisor profile has received 0 negative reviews today.
So you get on Yelp and post a review warning others of the practice. Doesn't that seem like a legitimate use of a review site?
Technically, yes, you didn't utilize the service, but that doesn't mean you have no qualifications to comment on the business's bad policies.
"I drove to the repair shop, they insulted me with ethnic slur, and I got mad and drove away." Would this not be a legitimate and useful review?
Doesn't that seem like a legitimate use of a review site?
I'm reviewing the business' policies and warning others of something I find distasteful. In your example, what if I read the online menu and found some fine-print stating they cook their french-frys in orphan tears? Maybe I find that distasteful and want to warn others of such a practice.
This is a standard internet lynch mob. They are always vile, reprehensible things, with real humans as victim. But pile on, everyone.
Let me say again, and this relates to the sibling comment to yours -- none of these people piling on the internet circle jerk torch mob had any interest or engagement with this business. They weren't en route to book their wedding party when they discovered this. They're just trying to feel good by joining a misled, destructive, abusive mob.
It is bullies, pure and simple. Some restaurant I have zero concern about put up a misled threat, in a plain and obvious location, to try to make sure that wedding parties didn't mislead their guests, so now we all must rail about "free speech" and attack someone's business. The employers of people.
Yeah, I'm perhaps a little too mature to see that as constructive for anyone. It is vile.
This has happened so many times before. And after there is the realization that it was all profoundly silly and destructive.
For example, penalties for late payments of bills are examples of contractual fines that have been upheld by the courts many times.
Whether or not the fines at issue here are bad business practice depends on how you feel about the justification for the fines.
Could you explain why you believe this?
The main issue i would see here would be liquidated damages issues, not something like SLAPP (at least in most states).
That's kind of what this feels like. I didn't tell them to write a review. They genuinely didn't like your product or service. Why am I being fined just because they booked a room for my party? Maybe my friend has a legitimate complaint that isn't about how old the furniture looks (which is what this appears to be about). What if your staff was actually very rude, or the room wasn't up to the quality listed on the web site?
It seems unenforceable to a lay-person because it puts the burden of controlling third parties we can't control on us. If I go someplace for a friend's party and the friend tells me not to post a bad review of it if I don't like it, I'm going to tell my friend to fuck off and write whatever review I want. He has no say in the matter.
So it seems bizarre that you can even legally agree to something over which you have no control. It feels equivalent to saying that you agree to pay a fine if it rains while you're staying at our hotel. (That very well may be enforceable - but it seems odd to the layperson that it could be because you can't predict it ahead of time and can't control whether it happens.) It's simply an example of the law making no sense to the people it applies to.
Because you agreed to those terms?
Just because you agreed to a crappy deal for you doesn't get you out of it. If you don't like it, don't take the deal?
We are talking about wedding receptions, it's not like random hotel guests. These have real contracts, deposits, etc (and they said they take it out of your deposit).
"It seems unenforceable to a lay-person because it puts the burden of controlling third parties we can't control on us. "
This is incredibly common.
For example, almost every contract you would ever sign for selling software, etc will say something like "you agree to indemnify us if a third party sues us over intellectual property issues in your software".
This is clearly enforceable in almost all cases.
You have literally no control over who chooses to sue them.
As for not making sense, the law makes perfect sense in this sort of case - you may freely contract for almost anything.
What a blatant lie, they deserve to go out of business.
Does that mean that in court everything in their contract should be considered a joke?
Coming soon: The Hotel Formerly Known as Union Street Guest House
Looks like it hit Reddit, that's why it jumped so quickly, http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/2ckx8i/hotel_cha...
When reviewing rated product/service offerings, I go straight to the 1-star reviews. Skimming those, I differentiate the "valid complaints" from flukes (a small failure rate is understandable), unrealistic expectations (it's a vintage hotel, not a new Hilton), tangential problems (Amazon didn't smash the box, the shipper did), hysteria (political opposition isn't a reason), humor (Family Circus isn't peer-reviewed), etc.
We need a way to express these, especially a "for what it is, it's good (whether it met my needs/interests or not)".
While less so for product reviews, I feel like restaurant/hotel reviews are more like movie reviews. Just like Battlefield Earth, there are some bad restaurants that universally will get panned. And there are some just wonderful establishments everyone will love, just like Shawshank Redemption.
But for everything in between, it's a matter of taste, which is why Netflix tries to infer your tastes and predict a star rating for _you_ rather than gives you an aggregate rating.
Someone might give a dive bar a one-star review because it's smoky, they only accept cash, and they only sell Bud Light. However that same person might give a 5-star review to a craft beer bar that refuses to sell mass market lagers.
On the flipside, someone might give the dive 5 stars because the drinks are cheap and it's one of the last places in town where they can go out and still light up. And they might give the fancy bar one star for being too pretentious.
Neither opinion is wrong, people just like different things. Glomming this all into an average star rating just seems to give me useless information.
This works only to an extent. There are many movie qualities that can be very important to you that you can't represent with a 5 star rating system. Because of this, the main way Netflix clusters your preferences is by the things they know, like genre, actors, producers/directors, etc., and they assume your high rating is (in part) for these things.
This problem is much more prevalent in music suggestions (Pandora, Spotify, etc.) where your preferences are determined almost entirely by genre and artist.
The problem is even more prevalent in ratings for restaurants. If you give 5 stars to an excellent Mexican restaurant, Yelp and Google Maps will suggest to you other Mexican restaurants.
So as a savvy user, you are in a strange position of having to realize how they are clustering things, and give 5 stars to things you don't really like, because you want to be given recommendations for high-rated things in those genres.
And you can't give 1 star to a movie in a genre that you like, otherwise the system will think you hate that genre.
So I would agree with the previous comment, that the "star rating" system is totally broken.
Interestingly Shawshank was panned by critics on release, and was a "cult classic" / slow burner that took a while to get to the status of universally loved.
One of the problems of reviews is that so few of them just give me the mechanics.
Having had the opportunity to take a good, long stare at the underbelly of how hotel rooms are arbitraged, marketed, booked, and how the ensuing reviews and PR is cultured, the whole damn thing is a cartel controlled by surprisingly few entities and individuals. Bookings all funnel through systems like TRX and concur, all of whom take a slice (the actual hotelier, if there is one, tends to get about as much as a recording artist in terms of percentages - and they often end up PAYING booking engines and arbiters to fill capacity), and reviews are similarly curated and controlled. There are numerous businesses whose entire function is controlling ratings for hotels and hotel groups - and they use every dirty trick in the box.
We worked on a startup which did hotel bookings in such a fashion that it circumvented this ratings cartel - and promptly had several major groups refuse to work with them, until they played the game.
It's dirty, monopolistic, and so full of anti-trust it's not funny - but lobbying.
Or at least a series of blog posts about how the free market for hotels is broken.
Doubtful. "Was this review helpful to you?" is actually the "I disagree with this review" button in practice.
Amazon reviews are so crappy. There is tons of reviews that say JUST "I haven't used this product/read this book yet." plus any number of stars.
While it's extra work I love those reviews.
"I haven't read this book but $THING IS WRONG, thus one " mean I can ignore some of the low ratings.
While reviews and ratings are weird and probably need some tweaking at some point they are not nearly as bad as the weirdly broken search. I've got to the point where I would pay money to have better Amazon (also ebay) search*.
along the lines suggested in this thread - I might dislike a movie but love the genre; I might love a movie but generally dislike that genre; etc. So some method of saying why you like something so much would perhaps be handy.
 I go to Amazon.co.uk and I search for [microwave oven]. I chose a department - kitchen & home. I then sort by price, low to high. I am flooded with totally irrelevant items. (Egg cup; aluminum foil; salt&pepper shakers; children's cutlery sets; etc). You're not supposed to use search to find microwave ovens, you're supposed to drill down the tree of department, items, specific items.
>Have not read
>At this time I am caught up with so many pressing activites that is not one of my priorities. Will get to it probably this summer
One star review.
I agree completely about the searches. I'm starting to avoid Amazon cause I can't find what I want on there.
>"I haven't read this book but $THING IS WRONG, thus one " mean I can ignore some of the low ratings.
There are equal number of higher ratings and mid ratings of this nature.
Choose three words to describe the hotel stay:
There's no way to collapse a multidimensional metric to a single value without losing information. That's what a "star system", numeric review, or others, do. Quick, what are food grades, and what are the grading criteria? (See: http://articles.latimes.com/1987-11-13/business/fi-13882_1_m... and https://www.princeton.edu/~ota/disk3/1977/7707/770706.PDF)
Different people have different assessment criteria. That seems to be the problem the hotel in question claims to be facing. "What's best?" inherently presumes "For what?". A vintage hotel shouldn't be rated on the same criteria as a five-star downtown hotel or business hotel. Or for its healthcare, auto-repair, clothing, bookstore, or hardware characteristics. The challenge is when an entity tries to claim a special status or twist that's at strong odds to most general expectations.
Thin data. Only a small number of people typically leave reviews, and you're likely to get feedback only for exceptionally positive, or exceptionally negative, experiences. Or those who are motivated for whatever reasons (competition trying to shut you down, paid positive reviewers, etc.) to tell a specific story. This produces a highly non-randomized sampling selection.
Unqualified reviewers. This is a problem pretty much any collectively rated system has. People who are not capable of making a valid assessment. Among other services, reddit and HN are suffering from this.
The significance of ratings. Meaningless as they are, small changes in ratings can be hugely significant for a business. A major problem of the market is that information on quality is thin, non-abundant, and often expensive to come by. Ratings systems, even imperfect ones, address the ratings cost issue, even if the data conveyed are low-quality (think of racial discrimination or similar behaviors). So despite the problems, people care.
One way around these issues is to come up with a "based on your profile you'd likely prefer X". This is what Amazon tries to accomplish with its product recommendations, though the appropriateness of these is often pretty thin.
The problem space is a hard one.
We're talking about Hudson, NY here. It's practically a wilderness... having an appliance repairman come would be impossible!
-literal meaning of Spooky23's statement: it's unreasonable to expect ice in the middle of summer.
-sarcastic meaning of Spooky23's statement: it's completely REASONABLE to expect ice in the middle of summer.
personZ acknowledges the sarcastic meaning (that it is reasonable to expect ice in the middle of summer), and is pointing out that based on the article, the guests actually DID in fact receive ice, making Spooky23's sarcastic statement not very relevant; the issue was that they had complaints about the attitude with which it was provided.
Edit: unless perhaps personZ edited his original post.
The fact that the guests eventually received ice is irrelevant. There is no excuse for a reasonable & customary request in a hotel would be met with a rude response, period. If I want to sit in my room and drink 24x7, that's my problem, not the hotelier.
I've stayed in many hotels, and have actually run into exactly this problem. In fact, it was at a $40 Hamton Inn awhile back. The guy said "No problem, our ice machine is broken, but give us a few minutes and we'll get you squared away."
My comment was more than the linked blog post took a bit out of context to make the article more incendiary and hit luring.
Ice is of obvious importance, but it sounds like they did get ice, and the complaint was about the attitude concerning it.
(The ice machine thing, though -- that actually seems like it's much more indicative that it might be worth staying somewhere else...)
You forgive accidental mistakes, but you should punish intentional morally unacceptable behavior.
These hoteliers have a stupid (and likely unenforceable) social media policy. And they might be assholes. Fortunately they have almost no sway over your life. Fry bigger fish.
And recovering money via the court system is another huge waste of time and effort for everyone involved. Stomping down on this hard is exactly what should be happening.
That is not quite what is happening here.
Having a contractual penalty, freely entered into and mutually agreed upon, for something harmful to their business, probably does not interact with SLAPP in most states.
Then the hacker sends pagesix.com an anonymous tip about the policy.
Then the hacker posts the pagesix.com article on HN.
Now, that would actually make a good story...
[EDIT: Typo & Grammar]
Interesting theory though. Reminds me of the Amy's Baking Company "hacking" of their Facebook page.
Interesting, I hadn't heard of the Amy's bakery thing...
Seems like they sent harassing emails to people who leave bad reviews letting them know they are going to charge the wedding host
I think a lot of these "Internet Vigilantes" would probably fall for it.
I took a look at their site and apparently they only enforce this policy for weddings:
"Also, please note that we only request this of wedding parties and for the reasons explained above."
The reasons seem to be that as guests are not booking the hotel themselves (presumably the bride/groom has done that for them) it may not be to their tastes and they feel it's unfair to leave a negative review of something you never would have booked in the first place because it's not to your taste.
I can kind of understand this reasoning, although it's not great.
"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."
So by then wouldn't you have paid in full and settled everything? In that case, they shouldn't have any money you would be expecting to get back from them. So what are they taking it out of? Are they just going to send you a bill for $500 per bad review? Is there anyone who will not just laugh and throw it away?
Some people would review on first opportunity - perhaps before having slept the night.
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 commenters on the post do not believe this not surprisingly.
I think they have a legitimate problem and I'm wandering what alternate solutions we can come up with. The person planning the wedding (may or may not be the people actually getting married) thinks this is a good place for the wedding, but many of the guests do not enjoy it. The reviews exist to help that person make that decision. Whether or not guests usually hate it, is part of that decision, but I agree with the venue that what the people getting married want is the bigger part of that decision. How can the company manage expectations better?
TLDR; if you're running a business don't get petty.
EDIT: on further inspection there aren't as many negative reviews as I remember.
Perhaps "many of your guests will hate this place" is a valuable signal to couples picking venues.
Honestly, if you've been a legitimate guest of a particular venue IMO it's perfectly fine to leave a review about it. The people that foot the bill aren't the only ones who get to chime in.
Let's instead imagine some similar non-chain place called O'Brien's. Would it not be useful, when deciding whether or not to go to O'Brien's for dinner, to see a bad review saying, "I didn't like this place, all they had was burgers, and no booze"?
As I mentioned before - there are unreasonable customers with a chip on their shoulder.
It's really simple: reply to negative Yelp reviews and state your case. If you are reasonable, then people will understand. This is also called taking the high road. It works a lot better than the stupid tactic they have employed.
These people want to have it both ways. They know they have a problem wherein people are frequently booked as guests and then don't enjoy their stay. But rather than try to avoid this situation (either by fixing what these people dislike, or by turning them away) they want to keep raking in the cash, and just want people to shut up about their experience.
Just because something is written into the terms of an agreement doesn't make it legal.
But it depends why you're being slapped! Obviously we can't go prosecuting everyone who intentionally whacks into someone else according to the rules of whatever sport they're playing, so we make an exception for that. This gets tricky with sports like boxing where the rules require you to do something that looks pretty much like a brutal assault, so the exceptions in that case get pretty finicky -- we might insist that you make your mutual-battery deals in public, in licensed boxing rings, instead of by giving Brad Pitt a nice manly handshake in the basement of a bar and refusing to talk about it later.
And then there's the whole gray area of less socially-accepted sports, like Quidditch or BDSM. We (even prosecutors) often approach things from the perspective of, "if this activity seems normal to me, it must be legal; if it seems wrong it must be illegal." When moral judgments and fear of the unknown creep into that analysis, it can lead to some twisted logic to justify the outcome we know must be right.
 Now consider whether you can be prosecuted for A&B as an accomplice.
Your contract would be unenforceable btw - I could slap you three times (hell make it twenty) and walk off - you could not get any court to enforce payment. You could threaten to accuse me of assault if I did not pay up - but then you are blackmailing me and would do more time than I would for assault.
But I suspect that the hotel owner has been slapped by a couple of brides over this :-)
A legal contract depends on mutual understanding. People learning to box generally understand they are going to get hit. People booking a wedding party generally don't expect to be held responsible for their guests having opinions they post online. The hotel would have to make this policy very clear in order to achieve mutual understanding, and that doesn't mean just putting it on the contract and the webpage for the customer to find on their own.
Participation in a contract that specifically covers terms for being slapped also bring with it an expectation of being slapped.
It's not enough to have language in a contract. There needs to be understanding by both sides about what is being agreed to.
Since the Internet engaged mob-mode before engaging investigation-mode, we don't know how clear these terms are to people who are booking weddings.
It might be very clear because they send an email explicitly telling the bridal party about these terms and asking them to consent, which would also be a signal to the party about the quality of online reviews. Or it might be buried in the middle of 12 other clauses and the customer doesn't know about it.
Similar pieces of other contracts are valid and common and are called "non-disparagement clauses". I don't see how this differs.
I'm not sure that I believe this. I can believe that there are some places out there that think that they can get away with enjoining you against posting negative reviews (until the law eventually settles down against that, as I'm sure that it will), but I find it hard to believe that there are many places that think that they can fine you for the actions of other people. Can you give examples?
EDIT: As baddox (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8131575) politely points out, I worded this badly. I want to say something like "the actions of other people over which you have no reasonable expectation of control" (for example: you can reasonably be expected to prevent guests in your room from damaging the furniture, but you cannot reasonably be expected to monitor the Internet usage of all your guests after they leave to make sure that they do not post a negative review).
I'm not a lawyer so maybe I'm missing something obvious. I would just like some substantiation. It seems that many people have the habit of automatically declaring something they don't like to "must be illegal" simply because they strongly dislike it. That's now how law works, and that's important to understand because many people seriously underestimate the powers that the legislature holds.
I didn't claim that it was (il)legal or (un)reasonable, only that I wasn't convinced that language of this sort (where you are being held responsible for the actions of people when they are not under your immediate control) was common in contracts.
There are plenty of examples of that, even in the context of hotel booking. The person who pays for a hotel will be fined if non-paying guest damage hotel furniture, for example.
When you attend a wedding, you have absolutely no say in the venue. Yes, the bride and groom may have agreed to the terms, but the attendees did not have a choice.
So if they get shitty service and want to post a review about it online, they find out doing so will cost the bride and groom $500. It might not be clear cut extortion - but it is not an acceptable business practice.
Just because I sign a contract saying I agree to pay $1 everytime someone I know says something unkind to anyone doesn't mean the contract is enforceable.
Besides I don't think the he meant extortion in the legal sense but more the moral sense.
If I leave a review ~6months after would my sisters bridal party be charged or the party that is currently renting the hall?
I assume the later since they assume reviews are placed within a short span of time. Which then if there are several books one-day-after-the-next how do you migrate reviews? Or do you split the difference between all parties?
Even if the policy is clear, and the market is free. There is no way this policy can be enforced fairly.
Wait for deposit return, make bad review. All is well :)
How? If the place has returned the deposit then they have nothing to withhold the fine from ... ?
Am I missing something here?
They have no way of proving the association of the reviewer and the deposit in question to charge from. Therefore it is logical to assume that any negative review would be charged to the currently active account, which may or may not be associate with the review.
This ambiguity prevents a fair result.
So you rent the room and someone posts a negative review from their rental a few months ago; do you get fined or not? You might if they're only going off time.
At lunchtime (UK) today they had 39 reviews, and had dropped to 1.5 stars. At end of day UK they have over 500 reviews, as far as I can tell everyone a 1 star and they have 1 star rating.
One day and years of work undone.
For those who want to sell SEO services to real businesses (yelpEO?) this is a major marketing event. For some poor fucker in NY this is likely to be bankruptcy and layoffs.
But, I'm not sure if this is even legal. As imperfect as Yelp is, at least it's democratic. Fining somebody for their guests' opinion of their place is not okay.
Fuck Union Street Guest House, Fuck Policies, Fuck Reviews
And if you want to be down with Internet review policies, then fuck you too
All of y'all businesses, fuck you, die slow motherfuckers
My Enter Key makes sure all y'all businesses don't grow
You motherfuckers can't be us or see us
We motherfuckin Internet Thug life-riders
anonyimized till we die
Pretty bold of them to think they could fight social media and the consumer-powered era with such an outrageous policy. Power to the people!
"Your trust is our top concern, so businesses can't pay to alter or remove their reviews."
And yet see we stories like this about Yelp all the time. Yelp reviews aren't worth the paper they are not printed on.
I would think that getting e-receipts working will destroy yelp as well.
There is no "right" to free speech in the US between 2 non government entities.
This would be illegal if a publicly owned entity had this policy (say a historic library or a public garden)....
It's stupid and probably not enforceable, but its a civil court case.
This contract holds you responsible for others' behavior, which is less well established.
There's the First Amendment and then there's free speech.
Once again, not defending their practice, just pointing out that the angry mobs don't usually produce the best outcomes.
The bride is not a business partner, she's a paying customer. A business partner would be receiving a share of the profits from the transaction, a bride is not.
How is it different from docking an employee's pay? Well, to start with the bride has no employment agreement with the hotel and is not receiving any pay, so that's a pretty big difference.
The Yelp page is now attracting comments like "This place should be relocated to china. They have a policy about reviews that is unamerican."
So, if you're looking for a hotel that actively dissuades the sort of redneck who likes to throw around words like "unamerican", congratulations - you've found it!
 ok, ok, I don't.
It has no meaning against other individuals.
EDIT: Yelp rating is no longer high, but there's still TripAdvisor and Google+.
I don't really see anything wrong with warning others that a hotel's policies are irregular and for people to be careful.
Just saying something such as "make sure you carefully read their terms before staying at this place or leaving a deposit, they are not standard and you could end up paying much more than you anticipated." might be justified, no?
Yes, I feel bad for the hotel, this could cripple their business, but it will probably make the news and encourage other hotels to review their policies. In the end the consumers (who are innocent) will be the ones who benefit from this.
You don't know that.
they have been extorting people
Some collective action against the gaming of the system is called for
Oh, geeze. If gaming the system is bad, then stop gaming the system.
If someone really wanted to put the screws to these people, then they would find a patron who has actually had that $500 policy used against them, implicitly if nothing else. It would require some kind of investigative journalism to find an actual victim. But that's a lot more slow and boring than getting out the Internet pitchforks and just burning their online presence to the ground right now. (If we wait too long our anger might dissipate!)
I'm suggesting that people comment on a public policy. No more, no less.
You don't know anything about the quality of their online reviews. No, I mean it, you really don't: 5 minutes wasn't enough time for you to investigate this policy and see how long it's been in place. Perhaps this policy is brand new and hasn't affected any online reviews yet, which means "none of their other reviews are trustworthy" would be incorrect.  Yet you implore that we should have an "immediate response." Quick, before we have a chance to think this through!!!
There's nothing our primate lizard brains love better than collectively kicking the crap out of an enemy who can't fight back. That isn't something to be celebrated or encouraged.
Slow down, take a deep breath, and count to 10.
 Doing this research now doesn't excuse a call for an "immediate response."
Let 'em take the dings. An example must be made of this kind of anti-consumer behavior.
"Activism" reviews are what make most online reviews useless. Please don't do that. And those who already have today do nothing but undermine their own reputation.
While the ridiculous penalty claim is outrageous and likely illegal, and their behavior on Yelp is unacceptable, everyone should always take a moment to understand where they're coming from: In this case their gripe seems to be guests who did not specifically select the hotel, knowing what it was about, but instead had the hotel selected for them as members of a wedding party. Their issue is those people then evaluate and rate the hotel based upon it not being another type of hotel.
It's kind of a fair gripe, isn't it? If your normal business suffers because of a secondary business, you need to reassess costs of the second business. Now threatening a fine is hamfisted and simply stupid, but I understand why they want to do something.
 “Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle.”
Regarding the other reviews being disingenuous or skewed, note that this policy only apparently applies and has ever even been stated for wedding parties. Are wedding parties big users of Yelp? Is it a credible use case for a general hotel?
Imagine that you're a sushi place and everyone loves your fishy goodness. But then you are called to be the primary caterer of a conference center event, leading to dozens of terrible reviews by people who don't like fish. Should their "I don't like fish" reviews be placed side by side with people looking for a sushi place to eat? Is that useful for users of yelp? As a sushi eater, no, that would be terrible noise.
The solution is of course to simply stop serving a niche food at the conference center, just as this hotel should stop doing weddings.
I'm calling for people to comment on the facts of a public policy posted by the hotel. No more, no less. If you interpreted this as a call to post dishonest or mean comments, you were reading into it the wrong the way.