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dislikeIf you book your wedding at the Union Street Guest House (USGH), a luxury boutique hotel in tony Hudson, NY, beware—the hotel will charge you $500 for every negative review your guests leave on social media. The hotel will happily refund the $500 as soon as the bad review is taken down.

Reading through the hotel’s online policy you’ll notice several disclaimers, including several that warn (all in caps) to CANCEL AT YOUR OWN RISK! The hotel believes there is a potential for negative reviews because not all guests understand that “Our bathrooms and kitchens are designed to look old in an artistic “vintage” way. Our furniture is mostly hip, period furniture that you would see in many design magazines.”

The policy goes on to state:

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not. This is due to the fact that your guests may not understand what we offer – therefore we expect you to explain that to them.”

So, yes, it’s your fault if your guests are not happy with the hotel. And if you or your guests decide to share your unhappiness on social media, here’s what will happen…

“If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event.”

The USGH policy has been getting quite a bit of play on the news today, so I’m sure someone may be revising it soon (at least I hope). There are many who are already skeptical of social media. (Last fall, New York fined 19 companies to the tune of $350,000 for posting their own reputation-enhancing fake reviews ). If service providers try to prevent honest negative reviews by bullying customers, can we continue to rely on social media to guide our purchase decisions?