Jamie Morton at NZ Herald reports:
A Bay of Plenty motelier says his business was unfairly smeared by a disgruntled guest on review website TripAdvisor – prompting an industry outcry about similar cases.
Tony Drinkwater is getting legal advice after his Kaimai View Motel in Katikati was criticised online by a patron who, he says, arrived just before midnight and began banging on doors.
On checking out, he refused to pay the $195 a night he had been quoted for his group of four. He argued he should pay only the $160 rate given on the Automobile Association’s travel website.
The dispute “got a bit nasty” when the man refused to sign his credit card slip and threatened to write a bad review of the motel on TripAdvisor, which claims to be the world’s largest travel site, with more than 50 million customer reviews.
Mr Drinkwater said the man later cancelled his credit card and is trying to get his money refunded.
But he was more annoyed a review had since appeared on TripAdvisor describing him as “dishonest with pricing”, while adding the rooms in the four-and-a-half-star motel were “very basic”.
Under “Room Tip”, the patron wrote: “No good room, go for another motel.”
Mr Drinkwater said TripAdvisor had refused to delete the review, “even though I gave all of the details and it clearly showed that this review is deliberately malice and deliberately false”.
“If you look at our other reviews, we’ve got a fantastic reputation.”
While Mr Drinkwater posted a response to the review, the website’s guidelines prevented him posting material to back it up.
I have found TripAdvisor excellent for selecting where to stay. I make a point of not just going off the ratings but also reading the reviews.
Yes some customers may leave an unfair review, but the solution is not to try and get that review removed, but to encourage all your other customers to leave reviews. Unless you are doing something wrong, your good reviews should easily dominate the bad reviews and aspiring customers will not place undue weight on the bad ones.
His lawyers were investigating whether he had a case against the website.
No, don’t do that. TripAdvisor can’t be expected to judge who is right or wrong when it comes to a review. If you threaten lawsuits, then you risk such sites closing, and that is unfair to those of us who use them. Also the site will become less useful if owners can bully bad reviews off the site. As I said above, the response to a bad review should be lots of good reviews. You could even have a computer available at checkout logged into TripAdvisor where people can do their review as they check out.