Is Filing A Defamation Lawsuit Really The Best Way To Respond To A Potentially False Hotel Review?

from the bed-bugs dept

I'm catching up on some slightly older stories and this one was submitted a few times, but I'm just getting around to it. It involves the Carleton Hotel in Oak Park, Illinois, suing a couple for defamation for posting an online review that claimed the hotel had bed bugs -- a big concern for hotels these days. The hotel denies that it has bed bugs. Actually, it goes further than that. It shows the report from the pest control company that came in and inspected the specific rooms that the family stayed in after hearing from them that they had discovered bed bugs in their house, and believed they came from the hotel. That report says: "Not a single bed bug, dead or alive, was observed. Additionally, no fecal, blood evidence was found." Additionally, the hotel notes that the couple its suing are well aware of this, because the hotel's manager sent them the pest control report the day after they contacted him... which was four days before they posted the review to TripAdvisor. In response, the husband told the manager via email: "I will do whatever I can through media outlets or publicity to say that your hotel is negligent in admittance of this bedbug issue."

From the info provided, and without hearing the response from the family, it certainly looks like the hotel has a decent case for defamation here. However, I'm still a bit troubled that it would go after the family, demanding $30,000 -- especially if the family truly believes (even in error) that it got bed bugs from the hotel. If anything, I'm less inclined to stay at a hotel that potentially sues its customers.

Now, of course, others will say, "but what else could be done" in situations where a false and potentially very damaging review is posted. It seems here's a situation where "more speech" should be the answer. The details laid out in the filing are very clear and quite convincing to me (again, not having heard the other side). I don't believe the hotel has bed bugs. So it seems like a better way to handle this would be to post that same info in response to the review, such that people can see that the review itself is not at all credible. Yet, in our legalistic society today, the first move always appears to be to sue. That's unfortunate.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:25am

    I guess you are suggesting that the hotel should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an advertising and marketing campaign to counter the false bed bug claims, even as that review sites there for years, potentially hurting their booking on that site and any other site that might scrape the review?

    Yeah, the roll over and take it like a man strategy only works when you are becoming someone's prison b--ch. Otherwise, it's not a very valid way to deal with issues like this.

     

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    Alien Bard, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:25am

    I have to admit that when I read reviews the first thing I look for are the negative ones, and the second thing I look for are business responses to those. It indicates to me that the business takes its product/service seriously and actually does listen to the customers. A lawsuit like this is more likely to chase me away then the bad review. Of course that's just me; I don't know how others think or act in regards to these things.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:28am

    Re:

    or you could you know not spend any money and post the pest control confirmation of no bed bugs

     

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    Alien Bard, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    Re:

    What's wrong with a simple and cheap response to the review?

    I admit I don't know the details of this case - perhaps the hotel did respond to the review, and perhaps they did honestly try to resolve this peacefully. Perhaps it's more than just a simple review, perhaps the couple is actively slandering the hotel in a big way.

    There is a definite line between stating your opinion and slander. If the couple has seriously crossed that line then I can support the lawsuit. But so far it sounds more likely that they are retaliating instead. It seems as if they are jumping onto the legal bus way too fast.

    That's my opinion anyway.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:40am

    Re:

    Wrong. The much better response (at least that would impress the hell out of me) would be for them to post their side in the same forum (Trip Advisor), apologize that they can't do more to convince a customer that all is well, and offer a gift-certificate at a competitor's hotel.

    This would accomplish three things:
    1) Show that they are reasonable, fair and rational in replying to customer concerns. Those who yell 'THEY LIE!!!' usually are seen as someone with something to hide.
    2) Demonstrate that they will bend over backwards to make things better for customers with a complaint (even if it's unfounded!!)
    3) Send a problem customer to a competitor... a customer who will either a) see it really is worse on the other side of the fence, or b) become someone else’s problem.

    And all it would cost (other than the pest control fee) is $100+/- for a gift certificate. Problem solved.


    Look at it like the forums here in Techdirt... those who respond with rational statements with facts to back them up are usually regarded as more likely to be right... whereas posters (usually trolls) who comment with things like "STFU you don't know what you're talking about you [insert expletive]" are usually seen as... well... trolls, and are laughed at.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re:

    Alien, I agree with you. I think that the hotel should, in addition to the lawsuit, take action in the public forums and do what they can to negate the effects of the review. But in the end, if they let it stand, they have to keep spending time and effort to fight it every time someone repeats it.

    The situation isn't very tolerable, and they need to use all the tools at their disposal (including the lawyers) to deal with it directly.

     

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    rubberpants, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Hammer

    When all you have is a lawyer everything looks like a lawsuit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:46am

    get rid of lawyers

     

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    CommonSense (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:51am

    Re:

    You should read the post, all of it. You'll clearly see exactly what he is suggesting...which is to respond to the post, in that same review forum, and show the pest control report that says there are no bed bugs.

    There's no rolling over recommendation here, just a different style of fighting. More comparable to using martial arts instead of just swinging fists.

    I know reading is hard, but you'll never get better at it if you don't try.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:55am

    I think the couple are a pair of dumbasses but that's just me. Who the hell wants to fight over where bed bugs came from? They apparently have no evidence to back up those claims, heck even a cellphone photo would do, but only the assumption it came from the hotel WTF!

    Now do they deserve to get sued, probably not, they deserve to be proved wrong in public, now if that escalates to the couple trying to do a campaign against the hotel then they do deserve all the pain they get.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    " But in the end, if they let it stand, they have to keep spending time and effort to fight it every time someone repeats it.

    The situation isn't very tolerable, and they need to use all the tools at their disposal (including the lawyers) to deal with it directly."
    You're treating this like a bug infestation itself. You're not going to be able to block all negative reviews and opinions of your establishment. Ever. Suing them is not going to dissuade others from making the same comments. It might actually make some people repeat them out of spite.

    If you respond to customer complaints with hostility and lawsuits, you won't have any customers. This hotel is not in business to be Right... it's in business to be a place to spend the night.

    As I posted below, do what you can to address the problem. You can't please all people all of the time... if this turns out to be one of those people, the only thing you can do is move on.

    How much money will be wasted on generating nothing but bad opinion of you simply to stop one customer from saying "ooh! bedbugs!"? You may no longer be thought of as "The Hotel with Bedbugs" but you'll be "The Hotel That Sues Its Customers". So, I'd have to congratulate them for being Right, and feel sorry for them being all alone on that high-ground.

     

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    Eileen (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    Re:

    data point for you:

    I regularly search out reviews of hotels on trip advisor. I am often on the lookout for "bad reviews by hysterical/crazy people" -- you can often tell because they don't fit well with other (good) reviews, and HAVE RESPONSES by the hotel which explain the problems, etc. Not saying all bad reviews are from people detached from reality, but it does seem to happen.

    Now if in this case I saw the hotel respond with links to reports from pest companies, etc. I would be very impressed with their thoroughness. If instead I find a second review a few lines down that mentions they SUED THEIR CUSTOMERS I would never, ever go there.

    Clear enough for you?

     

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    Atkray (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah because once they have won a judgement against a family everyone will suddenly think this is the best hotel to stay at, and all the people that may have read the negative review will forget all about it.

    The hotel is doing it wrong. They are playing Goliath.

    They had 2 good options, ignore the review, or use the evidence they have to demonstrate the family is in error. (inviting the family back for a complimentary stay probably would have been helpful. Instead they have chosen to be bullies.

    *waits for Streisand Effect*

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re:

    But... but... think of the poor lawyers with nothing to do!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:17am

    I honestly don't see the problem here. As far as media coverage goes, it seems like the lawsuit is actually getting the hotel's story out, which sounds like a pretty good story.

    As far as not wanting to stay at a hotel that potentially sues its customers, that's sort of like saying you don't want to stay in a city that potentially arrests its citizens. It's a pretty big deal *who* they decide to sue, and in this case it looks justified.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re:

    "Look at it like the forums here in Techdirt... those who respond with rational statements with facts to back them up are usually regarded as more likely to be right... whereas posters (usually trolls) who comment with things like "STFU you don't know what you're talking about you [insert expletive]" are usually seen as... well... trolls, and are laughed at."

    If only that were true

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "You may no longer be thought of as "The Hotel with Bedbugs" but you'll be "The Hotel That Sues Its Customers""

    I'd rather stay at the latter than the former.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How are their actions "being bullies?"

    They got wrongly defamed and are fighting back.

    Anyway, in this case, the Streisand Effect seems to work in their favor, because the initial criticism seems bogus on its face, so publishing the dispute only serves to show that the hotel has a better case.

     

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    MrWilson, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:26am

    Re:

    Cities have law enforcement agents arrest citizens (theoretically) for the benefit of society. As long as the arrests are justified, it's a good thing.

    A hotel suing a family over a negative review, regardless of how correct they might be in asserting that the review was incorrect, is only done for their own benefit.

    It also shows other potential customers that if a dispute arises between them and the hotel, the hotel is willing to launch thermonuclear lawsuits.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nobody claims that suddenly anything happens - except that the bad review goes away, and over time, people forget that it existed.

    Your suggested two options are not going to fix the issue, they are just going to engage in a they said, they said argument that is going to leave it up for discussion.

    The vaunted effect just isn't in effect here. Letting it sit out there is dry rot for a business. Over time, you don't know how many people read the review and decide to use another hotel instead.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    I lived in Oak Park for a while. This a town where adding three words - Frank Lloyd Wright - can often add 50-100% the price of a house. Most of the town is a really nice place, but the sense of entitlement in some parts is amazing.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not me... it'd cost me, what, $100 or so to exterminate some bedbugs... versus $30k in a lawsuit? What if they sue you for something you didn't say or that someone else said?

    You know... I travel a lot for work. I stay in hotels in the $100/night range (not very high-end). I've never had an issue with bedbugs. I've always wondered what the big deal with this whole thing was.

    Now, if I knew one of the hotel chains sued their customers, I probably would be prohibited by my employer from staying there... just in case they get targeted for a lawsuit too.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:43am

    This seems unfair. The first move was obviously not the lawsuit. The first move was to produce the pest control report to the person that posted the interview. I don't really like the idea of a lawsuit ever being necessary for anything either, it would be ideal if there were 0 civil suits because people were always reasonable to one another, but that's not reality. If this case is not a justified pursuit of someone who is publicly defaming you through internet reviews then what would it take for there to be one?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re:

    "A hotel suing a family over a negative review, regardless of how correct they might be in asserting that the review was incorrect, is only done for their own benefit."

    Well, yes. That's pretty much how ALL lawsuits are, except maybe class-action ones or ones involving the government. You file them for your own benefit because someone harmed you.

    However, looking at the actual review... did they say anything that was actually false? They say that they saw one bedbug crawling on someone at the hotel. They say that their home was infested with bedbugs around the time that they stayed at the hotel.

    The implication is clear... but it's left as an implication, except for the ONE bedbug they saw. If their home was infested around that time, they could easily have brought that one with them. They do NOT directly say "our house is infested with bedbugs because of the hotel" or "the hotel is infested." For this reason, I don't think they should have sued. In my mind there's a fine line there.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "What if they sue you for something you didn't say or that someone else said?"

    What if they summarily executed me in my sleep? There's about as much evidence of that as of what you suggest.

    If it's got bedbugs, it *will* be a problem. The fact that they sued one customer in their history of existence (to my knowledge) when that customer actually defamed them doesn't make it at all likely that I will have any problem.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re:

    Just curious, why wouldn't you go there if they did both (i.e., posted a response with the clean report and also sued the defamers)?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:59am

    I don't put too much stock into reviews like this. Do a random search for a beautiful hotel with a 4 or 5 star rating and you will definetly still find some bad reviews.

    Oh, and some people just like to bitch about anything.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re:

    "As long as the arrests are justified, it's a good thing."

    I think this applies equally to a justified lawsuit (at least in this case).

    "It also shows other potential customers that if a dispute arises between them and the hotel, the hotel is willing to launch thermonuclear lawsuits."

    I think it only shows that if the hotel is in the right, just as a cop arresting an actual criminal doesn't show that a city is willing to lock you up for life if you haven't done anything to justify it.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You may be right, and I have not read the actual review.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I am not Eileen, but I agree with her sentiment.

    I would not go there if the hotel did both because suing for that review is an over-the-top, heavy-handed response to a crank. It make the hotel look a little shady (over-responding is often a sign that there's some shenanigans-hiding going on) or it makes them look like petty bullies. Either way, I would rather not do business with such an outfit. There's lots of hotels, I have room to be choosy.

    A lawsuit would be a more appropriate if, instead of a random crank writing a review, this were something of greater proportion -- an malicious ad campaign, for example, or a professional review with a nontrivial audience.

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "If it's got bedbugs, it *will* be a problem. The fact that they sued one customer in their history of existence (to my knowledge) when that customer actually defamed them doesn't make it at all likely that I will have any problem."
    That's if it has bedbugs. According to one review, that's a possibility. And when the facts and evidence is posted in counter, then it's not very likely that the one review is reliable. Therefore, not at all likely that I will have a problem with bedbugs.

    The fact that they might have bedbugs... ok, that's a risk beyond their control after doing everything reasonably possible to prevent them... they could use all the pest control they want and still may have them. Suing customers, however, is a conscious decision made by the hotel... something beyond my control as a customer.

    And when looking at the possible ramifications of those two possibilities... either maybe (but not likely) having bedbugs, or costing me $30k... I'll stay somewhere else, thanks. And it will be the risk of being sued (and good old principle) that makes that decision for me... not the remote possibilities of bedbugs.

    So, in that case, suing customers cost them further business.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re:

    "If this case is not a justified pursuit of someone who is publicly defaming you through internet reviews then what would it take for there to be one?"

    I don't think anyone's saying the lawsuit isn't justified, just that it's not the best way to respond. The more effective response is to simply post a rebuttal to the review, in the same forum, with evidence and let it go.

    A lawsuit gains the hotel nothing, and in the eyes of many (such as myself), it makes the hotel look suspect simply because of the disproportionality of it.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The review is on page 3-4 of the document embedded on this page, for those who care to read it.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re:

    "STFU you don't know what you're talking about you [insert expletive]"

    Freetard. That's the expletive you're looking for.

     

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    taoareyou (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The error here is the misconception that if someone strikes you, your best option is to strike back harder. Which is the point of Mike's post as I see it.

    Fighting back is not always the best option. Many business' and people have learned this. A negative response to a negative stimulus rarely results in a positive resolution.

    However a positive, defensive rather than offensive, response can refute the attack and generate goodwill from observers and even the attacker.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    They're drawing attention to themselves, their lawsuit, and their lack of bedbugs. This may be a case of hotel management understanding the Streisand effect and attempting to use it to their advantage.

     

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  37.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 11:16am

    The Review

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g36471-d87941-r107652596-The_Carleton_of_Oak_Park-Oak_Par k_Illinois.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

    Here's the review from Trip Adviser.

    In case they remove it:

    In April of 2011, we stayed at the Carleton - not our first time, as my step-daughter lives in Oak Park and my husband stays there every 5-6 weeks with her on weekends, and our extended family comes along a few times a year. We used to like this hotel very much as it is good value and location for the money, but we will never stay there again!

    On the third and final night of our stay in April, we found a bed bug crawling on my husband during the night. We reportered it to the night manager (who offered to move us to a different room -- at midnight, after we had stayed there for three nights already, with two small children already sleeping - we were also checking out on the morning - so we declined.) We mentioned it again in the morning when we checked out and were told that the hotel is very aggressive about this problem, and that the room would be checked/treated immediately. We figured they took it seriously and did not hold it against them.

    Upon arrival at home, we took all recommended precautions, including washing all clothes in hot water and drying on high (ruined quite a few clothes this way), throwing out luggage, etc.. FOUR WEEKS LATER -- we found a bedbug in our bed. And have since had Terminix come out. Our infestation is low, indicating that it has probably been about FOUR WEEKS of growth/expansion since the bedbugs were intorduced to our home. I am currently in the middle of the onerous preparation and cleaning that ocmes with bedbug removal- the costs for the extermination and related expenses are coming close to 3 - 4 thousand dollars!

    We called the Carleton's General Manager to discuss this problem -- imagine our surprise to learn that (1) there was NO RECORD/INCIDENT REPORT FILED AFTER OUR INITIAL COMPLAINT WHEN WE CHECKED OUT and (2) that the room had not been treated our touched since we had been there since they sent in an insepction team when my husband called - again four weeks later.

    This indicates to us that they DO NOT TAKE THIS ISSUE SERIOUSLY - how could they have not immediately taken action on the room when we first complained? Also, not surprisingly, they claim that there are no bed bugs in the room.

    We will NEVER stay here again. So disappointing as our experiences until this point had been so positive.


    I can't read the rest of the actual suit document as my system here sucks. -shrug-. Does anyone know if it details the hotel's response to this complaint?

     

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  38.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Oh, so that's how they treat customers huh?

    Bed bugs happen - if the hotel took the steps to eliminate the problem, then good for them. But this is more of a testament as to what they think of their customers, more than anything.

    "Just pay us and STFU" - I suppose is the message we are to infer from this?

    I understand there are crappy customers but...

     

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  39.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    I guess you are suggesting that the hotel should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an advertising and marketing campaign to counter the false bed bug claims, even as that review sites there for years, potentially hurting their booking on that site and any other site that might scrape the review?

    Or, you know, just post a response directly to the review... that doesn't take any money at all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    it'd cost me, what, $100 or so to exterminate some bedbugs

    I would strongly suggest that you read up on bedbugs. They are literally one of the hardest pests to kill. The only known way to ensure that they don't continue to infest a structure is to burn it to the ground and start over.

    http://treatmentforbedbugs.com/347/exterminating-bed-bugs-the-long-road-to-success/

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Re:

    ""Just pay us and STFU" - I suppose is the message we are to infer from this?"
    No, you have it all wrong. It's "STFU or we'll sue you!"

    Granted, from a legal perspective, it does appear to be false info being posted, so defamation may be grounded. However, ethically, I think they're doing the wrong thing.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think you're taking this conversation in a different direction.

    I just said I'd rather be thought of as the hotel that sues than the hotel with bedbugs.

    That has nothing to do with being thought of as the hotel that may does but probably doesn't have bedbugs.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Fighting back is not always the best option."

    I agree. But that has nothing to do with whether or not you're a bully.

     

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    taoareyou (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If a child kicks a man in the knee and the man respond by punching him in the face with his fist, the man can be seen as a bully. When people see an action that seems heavy handed, that is the perception. The couple seems to me as if they connected the bugs to the hotel in their head. It also seems to me that their assumption was inaccurate.

    Simply responding to the review with factual evidence refuting the review should have been enough. Going one step further and taking some sort of conciliatory action to make the couple feel their wrong, even if it was unfounded, had been righted would have been better.

    Filing a hefty defamation lawsuit not only appear excessive, but leaves a negative on top of a negative in the eyes of observers. Even if they win the lawsuit, they have lost much more than they will gain.

     

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  45.  
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    Jimr (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    I love business that take an active interest in user comments. A few review sites I enjoy often have feedback attached to the complaint written by the business. Often with-in a day or two of the posting. Show me the business cares and is working to resolve the issue. Now with out any response on the site and just a defamation lawsuit would lead me to believe the comments are true.

    If the hotel had responded to the comment and provide a link to a copy of the report from the pest control company I would think more of that hotel and their outstanding level of customer service.

     

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  46.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And that would be your decision. I disagree as to whether that is the right decision.

    The point I was making was a possible consequence of that choice from the perspective of customers.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re: The Review

    What the couple seems to fail to understand here is that bedbugs can come from almost anywhere. Perhaps during their trip they rode on a bus, aircraft, or came in contact with a site that was infested outside of the hotel. Not only did they perhaps pick some up on their clothing, but perhaps a few got on the bed and that is what they discovered.

    They went home, potentially with the infested clothes from the third party stop on their trip, and infested their own home.

    While it is easy to pin it on the hotel, it would only be a sure thing if they stayed in the hotel for the entire trip, without any other contact with anything. There is as much potential here that they got infested outside of the hotel and brought into the hotel themselves.

    We don't know, they don't know. Their statements clearly lay blame on the hotel, which is an issue.

     

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  48.  
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    Alien Bard, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: The Review

    I agree that the couple is being stupid. Any serious travel who reads that review will see the same thing - that the couple are idiots. A single polite response from the hotel highlighting their investigation would have completely erased the negative effects of the review. A law suit does the exact opposite by driving full consumer attention specifically to this particular review while stripping it of any response by the hotel.

    In other words the law suit will not only bring them bad press for being aggressive, it will also bring them bad press for being a roach motel.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Even if they win the lawsuit, they have lost much more than they will gain."

    That's possible, but I'm not as convinced as you are.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: The Review

    I'm sorry, how does the lawsuit eliminate their response to the complaint or give them a roach motel rep?

    Both you and I heard their side of the story, which sounds pretty good, because of the lawsuit and subsequent coverage.

     

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  51.  
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    JMT (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    Re:

    "As far as media coverage goes, it seems like the lawsuit is actually getting the hotel's story out..."

    There are ways of getting the story out that make you look like a good service provider, and there are ways of getting the story out that make you look like a legal bully. Perception is everything in customer service, and it's very hard to make suing a family for $30k look good.

    "As far as not wanting to stay at a hotel that potentially sues its customers, that's sort of like saying you don't want to stay in a city that potentially arrests its citizens."

    Yeah, customer service and law enforcement are basically the same...

     

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  52.  
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    Paul Alan Levy (profile), Jul 26th, 2011 @ 4:06pm

    Re: The Review

    The hotel's papers do address the details of the complaint and represent that the hotel did try to reach out to the reviewer, and indeed the hotel claims that it explained everything to the reviewer about what the hotel staff had done following receipt of the complaint, and indeed what the hotel had been doing more generally about bed bugs. The hotel asserts as well that it got an email from the reviewer admitting that the reviewer couldn't be sure that it was the hotel that caused the reviewer's bed bug problem. The hotel asserts that the TripAdvisor review was posted after all of this exchange and that not only was the review false, but the assertion that the hotel acted as if they don't care is false as well, and that the person posting the review jolly well knew that this all was false.

    Of course, this is what the hotel says. The complaint cites an exhibit showing some of this communication, but I don't have the exhibit. If the defamation case is litigated, a judge or a jury may eventually have to decide who is telling the truth.

    We at Public Citizen defend online speakers against bogus claims, and our clients do use the Streisand effect as part of their self-defense, but I would not say that a business that has been defamed should never bring a defamation lawsuit. Rather, I would say that a business that is being falsely and unfairly slammed should think long and hard about what impact the speech is really having on their business, consider whether counter-speech can be effective, and decide whether the impact is so devastating that litigation is worth both the cost and the risk. Here, the hotel recites that two customers said they were not coming because of the review, and that it hears daily from potential customers about the review. Is that enough to make this lawsuit worth their while? I am not so sure.

    By the same token, people who get sued for defamation need to think long and hard whether to defend the cases, even if they can afford counsel, or whether to bite the bullet and admit they were wrong. Folks who use the Streisand effect can end up paying for that later if they are found liable for defamation.

    In the end, IMHO, as long as our society puts value on reputation and affords a cause of action for defamation, then, in my view, we need at least the possibility of such litigation to discourage deliberately false statements that can in some circumstances have a serious impact on reputation. And I think it ill behooves those of us who care about free speech online to blow off defamation plaintiffs with the notion that they should never file such lawsuits.

    Mike has said no such thing, but I read some of the commenters as saying that.

     

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  53.  
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    Alien Bard, Jul 26th, 2011 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The Review

    Both you and I are actively examining this and discussing it intelligently. I suspect that 'most' people will simply read the headlines (something like 'Hotel Sues Over Bad Review') and then glance through the review itself. All these people will miss the information we have gained in the course of our discussion.

    Again I emphasis that I am not saying the hotel should never issue a law suit, simply that in this instance it was the wrong move. Replying directly to the single review would have been far more effective.

    Now, if the couple in question had engaged in a lengthy and extensive slander campaign then the situation would be different. Then a law suit would be the correct action as it would clearly punish the couple for slander, rather then for posting a bad review.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Frank, Jul 27th, 2011 @ 4:59am

    BedBugs

    Frank the BedBug Chaser again and I saw this in Pest Management & Green Lodging. There is now an economical way for hotels, exterminators or anyone for that matter to use clean 100% Chemical Free & Green electric heat to get rid of bedbugs
    http://www.mypmp.net/pest-mgmt-content/news/bedbug-chasers-announces-nationwide-rental-program-789 4
    or http://www.greenlodgingnews.com/bedbug-chasers-announces-nationwide-bed-bug-heater

     

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  55.  
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    GreenLouise (profile), Jul 29th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    Bed Bug Defamation Suit

    Bed bugs are far more prevalent than the public knows and there have to be some changes to protect the public. Hotels do not admit bed bugs even when they have them so the spread of bed bugs is being enabled by unsuspecting customers. There are con artists who actually 'plant' bed bugs where they stay to be able to demand free stays, services, etc. This is a guilty-until-proven-innocent situation so hotels and their reputations are vulnerable. I sell Greenbug - an all natural line of pest control products that kill as well as prevent bed bugs. Hotels can use it to prevent bed bugs, guests can use it to protect themselves from bed bugs, and hotels can treat for bed bugs in-house for far less money than hiring exterminators who use toxic chemicals that are losing their effectiveness. Everyone needs to be educated that bed bugs are everywhere and you are vulnerable at all times. It is NOT socio-economic, it is not related to hygiene and it is not something to be ashamed of. Just as everyone gets bitten by mosquitoes, everyone can get bed bugs. The key is protecting yourself safely and effectively. Greenbug for People can do that! http://www.greenbugallnatural.com

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    A R WIlliamson, Sep 28th, 2011 @ 8:09pm

    Well its great you all think the hotel should pay for them to stay at another hotel....where do you think that money will come from....put yourself in the business owners shoes...if you think that is all that needs to be done then I suggest you send the people one hundred bucks of your own money, I think the hotel should sue....I am all for free speech...but when your on the too bad end of it you will sing a different tune....

     

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  57.  
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    Zack, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    Nice information

    I would just like to express my gratitude for the awesome information you have here on this post. I will be visiting your website for more cool information in the near future.bed bug removal los angeles

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Michael, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 8:08am

    Hotel Reputations

    It really is amazing how much damage a bed bug report can do to a hotel. It is also amazing that this issue continues to get worse and not better. You would think that with how detrimental reports like these are to hotels, that hotels would take more action against bed bugs.

    For this reason alone I always take some kind of bed bug spray, or bed bug travel kit with me when staying in any hotel, no matter what their reputation is like.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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