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Tripadvisor warn Thai hotel that sued guest over bad review

Tripadvisor warn Thai hotel that sued guest over bad review

THAILAND: Travel website Tripadvisor has slapped a warning on a Thai resort’s listing, after it launched legal action against an American expat over a negative review, which briefly landed him in prison.

tourism
By AFP

Friday 13 November 2020, 05:27PM


Tripadvisor said it had taken the “extraordinary action” of posting a warning on the hotel’s listing so other travellers were aware of the incident. Photo: AFP.

Tripadvisor said it had taken the “extraordinary action” of posting a warning on the hotel’s listing so other travellers were aware of the incident. Photo: AFP.

In July, Wesley Barnes wrote of encountering “unfriendly staff” and accused the Sea View hotel and spa on Koh Chang island of “modern day slavery” following a dispute over a corkage fee.

The resort later sued Barnes and he spent two days in police custody after being arrested and charged under Thailand’s strict defamation laws.

Barnes and the resort reached a settlement after a mediation session last month.

The Tripadvisor message added to the Sea View on Wednesday warns would-be guests of what happened to Barnes.

“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 warning reads.

Tripadvisor said it had taken the “extraordinary action” of posting a warning on the hotel’s listing so other travellers were aware of the incident.

“Tripadvisor believes in the right of every traveler to write about their first-hand traveling experiences - good or bad,” a spokeswoman said.

“Tripadvisor strongly opposes any action where a business, like the Sea View Hotel and Spa in Koh Chang, uses local law to send someone to jail for expressing their opinion.”

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In a statement, the hotel said it was “deeply disappointed” with Tripadvisor’s move, saying it would “create further confusion and reinitiate a closed case”.

AFP has sought comment from Barnes.

Thailand’s tough criminal defamation laws have long drawn scrutiny from human rights and press freedom groups, who say powerful players use it as a weapon to stifle free expression.

The maximum sentence is two years in prison, along with a B200,000 fine.

Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said Thailand’s defamation laws were a “time-tested tool” to suppress critical opinions and some businesses were willing to “sue at the drop of a hat”.

“It’s so very very easy to file these cases with almost no evidence whatsoever,” he told AFP.

 

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Pascale | 16 November 2020 - 15:17:47

Kurt,do you know the meaning of "legal actions" or why do you have to use a question mark ?

Kurt | 16 November 2020 - 09:57:17

@ Pascal, as you wrote; The hotel went to far far with 'legal'(?) actions. When a thai hotel deals with international organizations as Tripadvisor to get her guests, it has to realize that it joins international social media and has to behave accordingly. Not underestimate power of world wide media. It doesn't stop at Thai border. It can 'stop' your thai business.

Kurt | 16 November 2020 - 08:17:37

The so called 'one-sided' warning from TripAdvisor is clear: 'Hotels should not mess around with guests over 'small matters' and initiate to bring guests in jail.

LALALA | 15 November 2020 - 21:23:07

Great stuff. Great move from TripAdvisor.

HubertK | 15 November 2020 - 19:01:14

A very one-sided warning from Tripadvisor . Interested reader should at least read the statement from the Hotel on their Facebook side before praising Tripadvisor. Mr.Robertsons  involvement by the way is completely ridiculous but typical. A small incident and a white  westerner in his role as deputy director for Human rights watch Asia  is pointing with his finger.

CaptainJack69 | 15 November 2020 - 12:14:03

I never thought I'd say this but, hooray for TripAdvisor!

Pascale | 15 November 2020 - 11:29:54

@Kurt  That Mr.Barnes acted like a total idiot.At the hotel and later on Tripadvisor. Why should anyone treat him like a king ?  Apart from that the Hotel went way to far with the legal actions. And btw,if you think only Thailand has a problem in SEA with human rights,  freedom of expression etc,then you are wrong. Even your highly praised Singapore has a very bad reputation regarding freedom of s

Kurt | 14 November 2020 - 18:52:53

Thailand has to step up few centuries, get rid of these draconic defamation laws. International human rights, treaties, freedom of expression and writing are a great good. Human Right Watch Asia said it well. Want international guests? Than remember, customer is king when you want to make your business profitable. Otherwise stick to thai guests only. Less profit, but them you can bully.

Fascinated | 13 November 2020 - 22:48:35

Be careful what you wish for. The restaurant in Kamala that gouged Thais was only been open for a few days since and the shutters have been down for a couple of months now. The guy was wrong to post the trip report but the resort was wrong as well. Don't doubt the power of social media.

 

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