Tripadvisor Puts Out Warning After Reviewer Held In Jail For Giving Thai Hotel Bad Review
Wesley Barnes was arrested under the southeast Asian country's strict defamation laws after he gave the Sea View Resort & Spa bad reviews on the travel site.
The hotel, which is on the island of Koh Chang said the accusations - which included modern day slavery - were unfounded.
The US citizen was detained for two nights before being released in October, but he was facing up to two years in jail.
Although he left the country last week, Tripadvisor made the decision to add a warning to the hotel's listing, which marks the first of its kind.
The warning, which can be found at the top of the page, reads: "This hotel or individuals associated with this hotel filed criminal charges against a Tripadvisor user in relation to the traveler writing and posting online reviews.
"The reviewer spent time in jail as a result. Tripadvisor serves its users' best when travelers are free to share their opinions and experiences on our platform - both positive and negative.
"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."
Responding to the new Tripadvisor alert, a spokeswoman for Sea Views Resort and Spa told the Guardian the hotel was 'deeply disappointed' with the move and claimed it would 'create further confusion and reinitiate a closed case'.
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The dispute was reportedly caused when Mr Barnes got into an argument with staff when he insisted on bringing his own bottle of alcohol into the restaurant.
The hotel claimed he had 'caused a commotion', refusing to pay a corkage fee which was then waived by the manager anyway.
According to police, Mr Barnes and the resort reached an agreement which meant that Mr Barnes had to apologise to the hotel, as well as to the tourism authority in Thailand.
He had to issue a statement of apology to foreign media organisations. As reported by the BBC, the apology included Mr Barnes retracting his review, saying he made 'repeatedly false and untrue statements... made to maliciously defame Sea View. These reviews were written out of anger and malice'.
He said that he regretted writing the reviews, adding: "The hotel has forgiven me and agreed to withdraw the complaint."
The hotel claimed it had tried to contact Mr Barnes multiple times to resolve the matter, before taking further action.
In a statement to the BBC, a rep for the hotel said: "Receiving multiple false and defamatory reviews over a period can be extremely damaging, especially, during these incredibly difficult times."
Featured Image Credit: TripAdvisor/Sea View Resort and Spa
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