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Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71050
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I own a hotel in Lancashire. We had a lady book with us

Customer Question

Hi, I own a hotel in Lancashire. We had a lady book with us on check-in 8-09-13 check-out 12-09-13. She was coming from Bahrain and booked a single room, I upgraded her to a double at no extra cost. The 4 days she was here she only ventured out of her room for breakfast and was friendly enough, she told me she was waiting to go into halls of residence at UCLAN. On check-out she paid her bill and thanked us for her stay, then called to say she had left her Koran in her room which I found for her, she returned 3 days later in a taxi to pick it up and I met her at the door and once again she thanked me. Then on the 15-09-13 she posted a review on Bookings website which knocked me for six. Good comments ( friendly staff, cosy atmosphere, lovely breakfast.) Bad comments ( the bed had mites and needed to be changed.) I rang Bookings immediately to tell them that the comment was an outright lie and why had she not at any stage asked to be moved to another room or even another hotel, and I said to the guy on the phone would you sleep in a room that had mites for 4 days and not even complain to the owner or want to move out, of course he said No! He then told me I had to put it down in an e-mail to customer support, which I did and I also asked for proof from the guest as I know she had an expensive camera, as she had told me that, and that I wanted the review removing immediately if she had no proof. Well all that keeps coming back to me from various departments at Bookings is the guest is entitled to her own honest opinion of her stay at our hotel and that we cannot reply to the review and under no circumstances are we allowed to get in touch with the guest. I told Bookings that we are their partner and that I would never book a hotel that said it had bed mites and that we will lose revenue and so will they. I got back in touch again a few days ago after looking at our statistics after noticing no bookings being made, on average we get between 25 to 40 bookings a month, since the review we have had 5 bookings and 1 cancellation in 25 days and I believe the one's that have booked are probably people who cannot be bothered looking at reviews. We are a small 18 bedroom independant hotel and this could ruin us in months if bookings don't come in, probably 20-25% of our business is with Bookings so it is a huge amount of our turnover. Please help and advise what on earth we can do because Bookings is an internet GIANT and will not budge. Kind regards, Louise.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

What would you like to know about this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

"For Jo C"

What can I do to get this review removed off the site and can I take them to court if my business was to go under due to the review being untrue, libel and slander.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
So, in short, a guest wrote some adverse comments on a review site?

And you want to remove them?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Did you not happen to read my first submission?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Oh yes, I'm just trying to summarise this into relevant facts.

Would it be possible to give me the information I asked for?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

What information do you require?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
So, in short, a guest wrote some adverse comments on a review site?

And you want to remove them?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, Bookings have e-mailed this evening to say they will not remove the review and we are losing revenue and our reputation because of it. The review is totally untrue. What do you advise?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for the information. I just need ten minutes to dictate an answer is thats Ok?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for the information.

The first point to make is that you do have a potential claim in defamation but you should consider carefully other options first.

The difficulty that bookings have is this. They are a review site. The whole point of a review site is to host reviews by definition. Most establishments would prefer there were no adverse reviews about them. If bookings removed adverse reviews then nobody would trust them and it would fall apart. They are likely to dig their heels in for that reason.

Even though bookings did not actually type out this review though, they are publishing it and so potentially liable for any defamation content.

Of course, sometimes people do leave unreasonable reviews. Not all members of the public are reasonable. The only way a small person can show that they have power is to complain. Whether the fact of one adverse review would necessarily impact on your custom is open to question. The world does contain people who just plain cannot be pleased.

If you are intent then you can pursue bookings in defamation. Its a very expensive action that I wouldn't advise lightly. You would also have to prove that they knew or should have know that the comments were defamatory. That will undoubtedly be their defence. This is only the civil courts so you only have to reach the civil standard and you could rely on the fact that this person did not complain although whether Bookings would have known that is another matter.

You do have a much better claim against the author of this post but if she is abroad there is no point.

Another options is to seek an injunction order forcing Bookings to remove it. That is a lot cheaper than defamation and they may not defend that. They would probably be happy to remove it if they were forced to do so by a court as the choice is not theirs then. An injunction is relatively expensive but its a lot cheaper than a defamation action that you might lose ultimately.

Can I clarify anything for you?