(HUDSON, N.Y.) — A small-town inn is catching big-time heat for its policy of fining brides and grooms for negative reviews their wedding guests post online.
The Union Street Guest House (USGH) in Hudson, New York, has received numerous flattering profiles in publications including Travel & Leisure, Refinery 29, and New York Magazine, many of which are prominently linked on its website’s homepage. But its vintage furnishings and bucolic setting are currently being overshadowed by the owner’s policy of fining newlyweds $500 for each negative review posted by a member of their wedding party.
“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,” states the USGH website on its policy for booking weddings and events. “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.”
The inn notes on the site that it will remove the $500 charges once a negative review is taken down from its post and that the policy only applies to wedding parties and events, not regular guests.
But the attempt at restricting travelers’ freedom of speech has prompted a backlash on Yelp and on the USGH’s Facebook page.
“If you tell the truth about your stay…you shall pay!” ranted one commenter on Yelp. “Threatening guests with fines for bad reviews…this is just a poor business practice. Why would anyone want to book a wedding or night stay here?”
On Monday USGH posted to its Facebook page that, “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.”
Followers of the page were not so quick to believe the statement, however.
“Nope, sorry, you lose the Internet,” wrote one.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure the reviews being posted on yelp are equally tongue-in-cheek and will be taken down in no time,” posted another.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Robynn Garfield, KSL.com
Heidi Hatch, KUTV