Hotels

Guests are being sued by hotels for leaving bad reviews in Thailand

Be careful how honest you are when leaving a review because you could end up with a lot more than just an unhappy hotelier; you could be sued.

At least that’s the case in Thailand where a woman is facing legal action for giving a hotel a negative review, in the second case of a displeased customer being sued by a resort in Thailand.

A guest named Khing left a review on her deluxe room at the Ozone Hotel located near Khao Yai National Park which indicated she was less than satisfied with her time there.

The hotel’s close proximity to Bangkok means tourists frequently visit the mountain park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was a filming location for the Leonardo Dicaprio film The Beach.

Khing gave the hotel a 6/10 in her Agoda review, which has since been taken down.

She described the resort as being “too expensive” and that it fell short of her expectations.

“The room did not look new as it was advertised,” Khing wrote, adding that it was dirty and describing the hotel staff as unhelpful.

“I could not call reception from my room, so I had to walk down by myself. Night-shift staffers were not so helpful, but some were welcoming.”

Khing also felt let down by the forested mountain view.

“The room’s view was just okay,” she said, comparing it to other resorts in the area.

Initially, the resort posted a short apologetic response to Khing’s review, but management seemed to have a change of heart when they sent her an official notice with instructions to delete the review and publish a public apology in five Thai-language newspapers for seven days, or pay compensation.

“She was told by the resort to delete the review comment immediately, or else she must pay the resort 50,000 Thai baht ($2,075) per day in compensation and 3 million ($124,500) for the damages,” her lawyer wrote, adding that if she didn’t pay, she’d face a criminal lawsuit. 

The case is currently pending and whether Khing will comply with the demands or go to court is unclear.

In Thailand, defamation is a criminal rather than civil matter and even if the criticism is fair or truthful, it does not necessarily protect someone from legal action.

A similar incident occurred in 2020, when another hotel threatened legal action against an American tourist.

The tourist, Wesley Barnes, stayed on the Thai holiday island of Koh Chang, and left repeated negative reviews about the hotel on TripAdvisor and other travel websites, including one alluding to ‘slavery’ occurring at the hotel.

Barnes was arrested following a defamation complaint and spent a weekend in jail. The charges were dropped after Barns issued a public apology where he said he got ‘carried away.’

TripAdvisor went one step further and posted a warning on its page for the hotel.

“This hotel or individuals associated with this hotel filed criminal charges against a Tripadvisor user in relation to the traveller writing and posting online reviews,” the warning began.

“The reviewer spent time in jail as a result. Tripadvisor serves its users best when travellers 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,” the warning concluded.

The issue of hotel reactions to negative reviews arose discussion around criticism and free speech in Thailand.

Deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Asia, Phil Robertson, spoke to VICE World news recently, where he highlighted the problematic nature of criminal defamation law in Thailand.

There’s absolutely no excuse for this resort owners’ outrageous and unacceptable effort to censor a critical review of their site,” he said.

“Sadly, only when resort owners like this one understand that their business will suffer because of such actions, will they finally desist from them.”


Featured image: ozonekhaoyai.com



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Wholesalers

Intrepid debuts its first all-female leadership team

Rumour has it, Beyoncé’s Run the World (Girls) could be heard blasting from Intrepid’s Australia office moments after they announced this news.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

“Bounce back and inspire”: Collette to host key players in Cairns

We’re headed to sunny Cairns this week to rub shoulders with travel’s big wigs at Collette’s annual big bash. See you there!

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

REVIEW: Hôtel La Pérouse offers a taste of classic French resort life

by Ali Coulton

Hôtel La Pérouse exemplifies Nice’s resort lifestyle offering privacy and quiet luxury on France’s Cote d’Azur.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Yas Island Abu Dhabi’s new tourism ad names Kevin Hart its chief island officer

Some of the staff at Travel Weekly are trying to become the chief island officer of Australia, but Scomo isn’t returning our emails.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

“Australia is a terrific market for cruising!”: Expedia’s Greg Schulze on how agents can maximise their business

We chatted with one of the big wigs at Expedia during its recent gathering in Vegas. Sadly, he declined our invite to join us for a game of blackjack, but that’s probably for the best.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Globetrotting tour operator arrested following drug drop death

The man also auditioned for Survivor in 2019 and featured in an Indonesian TV commercial – just in case the title wasn’t chaotic enough already.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Travel to make full recovery before end of 2024, says Virtuoso’s Fiona Dalton

Dalton hosted media at Crown Sydney this morning to celebrate Matthew Upchurch’s return to Aus. Our roving journalist managed to take down this story in between courses.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania celebrates the ‘Month of Lei’ with incredible new famil offer

by Sponsored by Hawai'i Tourism Oceania

This year, Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania is celebrating ‘Month of Lei’ 2022 with a virtual trade event and the launch of a new famil incentive.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

PONANT announces new 2023 sailing expeditions in the Kimberley

This ship is so fancy that they put ‘le’ in front of the name just to show they’re not messing about.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

TravelManagers to party like its 2019 with first national conference since COVID

As TravelManager’s GM puts it, this coveted event is like a “slightly rowdy family reunion”, so get ready to explain to your distant aunt why you’re not married yet over mum’s inedible egg salad.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Atlas Obscura and LA Tourism launch official visitors guide

Navigate the streets of LA with this new interactive mobile app, instead of walking around with one of those giant maps from your hotel that make you an obvious mark for pickpockets.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

“I have no idea how to fly”: Passenger saves the day after pilot collapses midflight

This situation is kind of like the film Flying High, except not quite as funny and with less confusion about people getting called “Shirley.”

Share

CommentComments