Online reviews are a fact of life for businesses in the modern age, and it’s no secret that most business owners put a high value on their reputation online because that’s how many people find out about new businesses today.
Some owners might write back and try to defend themselves against bad reviews, but an Indiana hotel finds itself facing a lawsuit after it went an extra step in trying to combat a bad review.
Katrina Arthur and her husband said after a disappointing March 2016 stay at the Abbey Inn hotel in Brown County, Indiana, they responded honestly to an email from the hotel asking for a review. What they weren’t expecting was a $350 charge for saying they weren’t happy with their stay. According to the story from TIME, the hotel alleges their policy states that if a guest has an issue, doesn’t tell the hotel, but then disparages the hotel in a public way, that they will charge the guest $350 and possibly pursue legal action if the statements aren’t retracted. The Arthurs say they were never given any paperwork at all. The state of Indiana is now suing the hotel on the grounds that it violated the state’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.
In light of this story, it got us thinking: how do small businesses typically handle bad reviews? What tools exist to help determine what’s a bad review that is actually grounded in fact and what’s a bad review that was left by a customer who didn’t get his or her way? For consumers, how much weight do you give bad online reviews? Are there certain circumstances where you’ll overlook bad reviews or others where just one bad review is the difference between spending your money and not?