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Koh Chang resort sues American over bad review

A Koh Chang resort is fighting back and, reportedly, suing an American citizen after posting a nasty online review on TripAdvisor. After recently visiting the Sea View Resort on Trat province island in the Gulf of Thailand, American Wesley Barnes wrote an unflattering, almost bitchy, account of his stay prompting the owner to file an official complaint over the ‘unfair’ review. Barnes is accused of causing “damage to the hotel’s reputation” as well as fighting with hotel staff over refusing to pay a corkage fee for alcohol that he had brought into the hotel. Barnes’ review on TripAdvisor below, has got him in hot water with police.

Wesley B wrote a review Jul 2020…
Unfriendly staff and horrible restaurant manager
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.
Date of stay: June 2020

Immigration police detained and arrested Barnes, who works and lives in Thailand, took him back to the island where he was later freed on bail. If convicted, Barnes could face up to 2 years in jail along with up to a 200,000 baht fine under current defamation laws.

Sea View Resort is located on Kai Bae Beach currently ranks 10th out of 85 properties on the island that have been reviewed on TripAdvisor.  Out of 1,922 reviews, 1,090 rate the resort as excellent, 580 rate it as very good, 170 as average, 48 as poor and 32 as terrible.

They have published a reaction to the case, featured on Richard Barrow’s Facebook page…

And then….

Thailand’s defamation laws have often been used as weapons to silence people and are used by businesses and influential figures to intimidate detractors, sometimes over trivial matters.

This post was last modified on September 26, 2020 6:52 pm

The Thaiger

Thailand's largest online portal for news and information.

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  • quite unfair to take out most of the story from your report, that guest harassed the resort many times over the internet travelers sites during the past months, sometimes you get such un-educated badly behaving and unfair guest, luckily its rare, nobodies perfect !!!, the resort might not be as well but the story is more than basic. What is not, its to end with a court matter, but due to many reports from that guest all over the places it might be the only way to prove the resort is innocent and defamed which is causing huge loses to it. Lets see the results of the enquiry.

    • That is why it is called a review. A bad review by an "un-educated badly behaving and unfair guest" is just what it is. It shows that not everyone was happy in this resort.

      If the resort is innocent or not doesn't matter at all. The review just shows that 1 guest wasn't happy.

      I also have doubts about the "huge losses". If you see a hotel with 99 good reviews and 1 bad review it just means that 1 person was not happy. But 99% of the guests were happy. Something like that should not cause huge losses.

      • I don't think one bad review would will make no difference.
        It's the handling of the story that makes the difference.
        Totally blown out of proportion.
        Hope the manager gets what's coming to him.
        If the staff did not smile it's probably the manger doing.
        I am sure the staff got harassed by the manager.
        The police should look into the managers behavior or who ever owns the resort.

      • Lots of conflicting data reported. First, Trip Advisor says the initial review never posted now they say it was up 5 days. Which is it? The guy says he agreed to pay the corkage and did not start drinking until given permission then the manager came out with an attitude and that pissed him off. Then he says he saw the same manager chew out an employee. No one was there so who is to say who is lying? Hotel says they lost customers. I doubt it. They have a 8.7 rating. Of course the guy is gonna go to all the booking places to post a bad review. Who spends all that time to post a bad review unless something bad happened to him. At any rate to file a defamation complaint throwing a guy in jail maybe for 2-4 years is bullshit. Best not to visit Thailand if they can do this to you no matter who is at fault. Stupid they have not settled it. That hotel guy has cost a lot of money to Thai tourism. Not too bright. Nobody gonna pay attention to one bad review with thousands of good reviews.

  • How pathetic - this will only damage the reputation of the hotel even further. It will even probably attract even more negative reviews - known as review bombing. It is not illegal. This is what tripadvisor is for. Police should be ashamed as well. An illegal arrest. This is the last thing the battered Thai tourist needs.

    • I agree with your first sentence. However, it was not an illegal arrest according to Thai law. As well, the accused is not a 'Thai tourist', but lives and works in Thailand. He should know the law there and have governed his comments accordingly.

  • Crazy country when police (who should really have better things to do) arrest someone over a review on a website! Tell the world about this ! Not that they're ever likely to come to Thailand again

  • I hate TripAdvisor as anyone can write anything and get away with it as far as I can see as if you as an owner of a business complain about the comment you are ignored by TripAdvisor and the comment stays in place no matter how stupid and untrue it is.

    I had a large Thai restaurant in England for 26 years, one customer said "The spring rolls did not contain enough meat as the restaurant was trying to save on costs and cheat the customer"

    We only sell vegetarian spring rolls, everything is clear on our menu.

    Many other false claims have been made by people but we had to live with it as I think TripAdvisor is just a business out to make a profit and do not care what people write about us.

    The real proof of a restaurant is success and we were in business for 26 years and always very busy with many return customers.

    I did write a review about TripAdvisor once saying how bad a company TripAdvisor it in my opinion.

    • TripAdvisor empowers lunatics to write whatever they want and destroy someone's business. When you let TripAdvisor know that a certain review is a lie and you can even prove it, the answer from TripAdvisor is that everybody is entitled to an opinion and you as a business owner can defend yourself by answering the bad review in question, meanwhile the damage has been done.

      • Joe

        True, it enables losers who have no position in life to be important for five minutes of their miserable lives.

        The name of the company should be WankerAdvisor.

  • This matter can affect the whole already damaged industry, so yes !!! It has gone too far both sides.
    I just put down my feeling working in hospitalities as well

  • I’m a long time trip advisor contributor. For me at least, I ignore all negative reviews which are based at the personal level. Employees have bad days and guests sometimes get offended over the stupidest things. Those reviews are not helpful to me when deciding where to stay. That said I do read the negative reviews more than the positive ones since they are the ones who will let me know the physical issues with a resort. Not trying to justify the guy in question, but getting sued over a review is quite chilling for others, the country and the site in general. Tells me you can’t trust reviews for Thailand since people will not tell the truth for fear of being sued. The site allows the hotel to post a reply disputing the review. Most are meaningless and clearly computer generated. Still many do respond point by point and very helpful. Last exactly how is pointing out the manager is Czech xenophobic? Seems more like an attempt to set up a legal point for the lawsuit.

    • I agree. If the manager was Czech and all the reviewer did was reference this as a fact with no other comment in relation to this fact, what's the issue? How is it xenophobic?

  • It is despicable to bring your own alcoholic beverages to a restaurant. It is despicable to write nasty reviews and never mention your own boorish behavior. It is despicable to use "slave" or "race" metaphors as they are egregious and inflammatory slurs that have no bearing on the complaint. Worst of all making associations accusations about Covid should be a crime. It is like spraying graffiti on the walls of a business. I hope the authorities prosecute Wesley fully. If you scream "fire" in a crowded theater it is a crime in America Wesley. If you try to destroy a business and the life of the people who depend on it with language such as "plague" "slavery" or other defamation, it should be considered a crime.

  • Another WTF news from Thailand, so a guest puts a review on a website and gets arrested and detained by Police??? If convicted could face up to 2 years in jail along with up to a 200,000 baht fine??? WTF is going on in this country ???!!!
    Beside I can see on Tripadvisor that many people made bad reviews with the complains being very similar to the one left by this American guy.

  • It has already spread to the international news - damage done. Congratulation, another nail in the coffin. It does not matter who is right or wrong. It takes 2 to tango. I work in hospitality myself, if I go to court every time some customer pisses me off I would have no time to do my job.

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