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Are they serious?! Hotel charges brides big money for bad reviews

AJ Willingham

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Social Media Editor

AJ Willingham is a social media editor/trending writer who loves animals, sports, the outdoors, good books, good music, and braiding hair. She lives in Atlanta, GA.

The Union Street Guest House has apologized for outrageous online review policy

If you have a complaint about this hotel, don't take it online, because you may get slapped with a $500 fee!

That's the policy at Union Street Guest House, a historical inn in Hudson, New York that is popular for weddings and events. Apparently, their vintage charm is not always too popular with guests, because the hotel has instituted some policies that could have you paying out for speaking your mind.

The most noteworthy one? If you or your great aunt Tilda or absolutely anyone present at your wedding leaves a bad review of the place online, the Guest House reserves the right to charge you $500. This policy was originally reflected on their website, but since the New York Post first reported on it, the policy seems to have vanished.

However, Yelp doesn't lie: Even though the Guest House boasts "historic" furnishings and a "luxury sleeping experience," it averages only one star on the review site, and, ironically, many of the reviews cite the House's "bad review" policy. Even more reviews have been added criticizing the House and blaming them for trying to whitewash their online reputation rather than learn from their customers' complaints.

According to the New York Post, the House also claimed they would charge a fee for ANY bad review you post, even if you weren't there attending a wedding (that claim has also seemed to vanish from the site). The House also has some super stringent cancellation policies still in place which, though certainly not unique, probably don't help things in this case.

The likely reason for the House's strange demands? Judging from their "About Us" section, some guests are surprised by the alternative ambiance of the place, and leave negative reviews despite the quality of the occasion for which they visited. The House also promised, in the original policy, to refund the fee if a bad review was taken down.

Unfortunately that's not how the Internet (or customer service) works. At all.

UPDATE: They have apologized! On Wednesday, Chris Wagoner, the owner of the Guest House, posted an update on Facebook saying the whole thing was just a big ol' joke that had gotten out of hand.

"Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed. This indeed was a policy of the Union Street Guest House," he writes. "It was originally intended as a joke and never something I told employees to enforce."

He goes on to say he's not really Internet-savvy and had no idea the "joke" would catch so much anger. He even offered guests a 10% discount.

"Including the fine for negative reviews as part of our policy was a mistake. That’s not the type of business that we run. It was a case of a joke gone very, very bad," he writes.

Despite the candid words, people are NOT buying it. The post has hundreds of comments, mostly negative, calling the hotel staff "greedy" and "liars." Some people even said Wagoner had posted sarcastic mock apologies on TripAdvisor before penning the Facebook version.

One of the best comments? "I'll remove this negative review for $500."

More wedding stories: 

How to deal with a bridezilla
How to plan a green, organic wedding
7 things you definitely need in your venue contract

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