North EastTourism

Khao Yai hotel threatens 3 million baht lawsuit over negative review

FILE PHOTO: A Khao Yai hotel sues a guest over a negative review.

It wouldn’t be the first time, but a Thai hotel is threatening to sue a customer over a negative review they left after their stay. The hotel, located in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima around the popular tourist destination of Khao Yai National Park, is threatening a 3 million baht lawsuit over a review where the past guest rated the hotel at 6 out of 10.

The hotel has not been publicly named, but the woman who stayed at the property last month left what she believed was an anonymous review on a travel agency website on December 19 where she gave the hotel a medium rating saying that it was overpriced for the experience received.

The property went berserk over the review and was able to identify the woman who left it and served her notice demanding that the review be removed from the website and that a 3 million baht penalty be paid within 15 days. Not satisfied with that extreme threat, they also ordered the guest to pay to publish a public apology every day for 7 days in 5 major Thai language newspapers.

The woman was threatened with a 50,000 baht penalty per day that she failed to comply with the 3 million baht fee, the week of public apologies, and the removal of her only-somewhat negative review.

Understandably shaken, the woman contacted the Lawyers for The People Foundation who took on the case pro bono when she asked whether the hotel had legal grounds to pursue compensation from her when all she did was write what she considered an honest review of the property she stayed at.

She also wanted to know how the hotel got her name and whether the travel agency website had given it to them as they had already removed the negative review, likely due to similar threats. Lawyers are investigating who deleted the post since it was not the guest, and what direct contact the hotel and the travel agency website had regarding the case.

NOT A FIRST IN THAILAND

Writing a negative hotel review can be a dangerous pursuit in Thailand, as was made famous in a case from September 2020. After visiting the Sea View Resort on Trat province island in the Gulf of Thailand, American Wesley Barnes wrote an unflattering account of his stay prompting the owner to file an official complaint about the ‘unfair’ review.

The complaint led to criminal charges being filed and Barnes serving time in a Thai jail and being forced to redact the hotel review. In response, TripAdvisor added a banner on the resort’s listing warning people that leaving a negative review could land you in prison, a notice that remains on the page today.

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.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.