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Man Sued By Resort In Thailand Over Negative TripAdvisor Review

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Man Sued By Resort In Thailand Over Negative TripAdvisor Review

Authorities in Thailand say an American man has been sued by an island resort over a negative TripAdvisor review.

He could now face up to two years in prison if found guilty, with Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police telling AFP: "The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the Tripadvisor website."

The Sea View Resort, on Koh Chang island, said legal action had been taken after Wesley Barnes, who works in Thailand, wrote multiple reviews on various sites over the past few weeks.

Credit: Sea View Resort
Credit: Sea View Resort
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Barnes was arrested by immigration police and was briefly detained on Koh Chang, before being freed on bail.

Colonel Thanapon Taemsara said Barnes was accused of 'damage to reputation to the hotel', along with quarreling with staff over not paying a corkage fee for alcohol purchased at the resort.

Further details of the story has been shared online by Richard Barrow, a British travel blogger living in Thailand, who says Barnes is a 'friend of the friend'.

Credit: TripAdvisor
Credit: TripAdvisor
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Barrow tweeted: "In most cases, defamation laws are good as they are there to protect us. But it is sometimes abused.

"To have someone arrested at their workplace for posting a negative review is surely a step too far. Does this now mean none of us should post one star hotel reviews in Thailand?"

Barrow posted a statement from Barnes, who said he became upset with staff after they were 'unfriendly at every turn', and over a disagreement over pricing.

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"To avoid drinking and driving, we decided to eat at the restaurant at the hotel," Barnes said.

"We had our bottle of gin and was told it would cost an extra 500 baht [$15.80] to have it there.

"We were shocked and complained a little to the server but my friend was willing to pay for it. The server told the manager we complained and he came over with an attitude. After having a little to drink and paying so much for the room, I got a little attitude back.

"Eventually we were not charged. Before we left, my friend the peaceful one, wanted to tell the manager that he handled the situation wrong. The manager got upset and tried to argue with my friend."

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Barrow also shared a statement from the owners of the hotel, saying: "There is always two sides to a story."

The hotel said it had attempted to contact Barnes before filing the complaint, citing three main reasons for the lawsuit.

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The statement said: "He left fabricated stories on his reviews on TripAdvisor and Google that included xenophobic connotations, accusations of slavery and even comments that could mislead readers to associate our property with the Coronavirus.

"He had been posting reviews roughly 1-2 weeks apart with obvious defamatory intentions.

Credit: Sea View Resort
Credit: Sea View Resort

"Despite our multiple efforts to contact him to resolve this in an amicable way for well over a month, he chose to ignore us completely. He only replied to emails, messages on reviews sites, etc. once he had been notified of our complaint by authorities."

Thailand is known for its anti-defamation laws, which often comes under scrutiny from human rights and press freedom groups.

According to the Bangkok Post, the maximum sentence is two years in prison, along with a 200,000 baht ($6,300) fine.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Tripadvisor, World News, News, Thailand

Jess Hardiman
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