Hotel guest jailed for two nights after posting negative TripAdvisor review

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    A hotel had a guest arrested on defamation charges after he wrote a negative review.

    Sea View Resort, Thailand, claims Wesley Barnes wrote “a series of harassment reviews” and decided to contact police.

    Barnes was arrested and spent two nights in prison, facing a potential two-year sentence. Following the ordeal, TripAdvisor has now placed a warning message on the page of the Thai hotel, as reported by Insider.

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    American Wesley, who lives in Thailand, visited the island resort in June 2020. He left a one-star review of the property, titled: "Unfriendly staff and horrible restaurant manager."

    He also said: "Unfriendly staff, no one ever smiles. They act like they don't want anyone there. The restaurant manager was the worst. He is from the Czech Republic.

    "He is extremely rude and impolite to guests. Find another place. There are plenty with nicer staff that are happy you are staying with them."

    The hotel claims it asked Barnes to delete his review, and when he refused, they contacted the police and accused him of defamation, the Insider reported.

    Thailand has strict anti-defamation laws, which can lead to two-year prison sentences or fines of 200,000 baht ($6,300).

    TripAdvisor paid Barnes’ legal fees and it is believed that all three parties reached a deal that would see the charges being dropped and review deleted.

    However, Sea View claims the travel site went back on part of the agreement by adding a warning message.

    Whereas TripAdvisor said it never made any agreement and "strongly opposes any action where a business, like the Sea View Hotel & Spa in Koh Chang, uses local law to send someone to jail for expressing their opinion."

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    Sea View Resort's Tripadvisor page now has a red message at the top warning potential guests, which reads: "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 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."

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