LONDON - A British hotel is under investigation for unfair trading practices after it charged a couple who stayed there 100 pounds (S$205) for writing it a negative review on travel website TripAdvisor.
The couple Tony and Jan Jenkinson paid 36 pounds (S$73) for a one-night stay at the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool, but later found £100 charged to their credit card.
Their review, posted on Aug 31, was titled "Filthy, dirty rotten stinking hovel run by muppets".
At the end of a long list of complaints, Mr Jenkinson wrote: "If you are offered this place to stay for a fortnight for 10p, you are being robbed!!"
They told British papers that terms and conditions on the booking form stated: "Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum 100 pounds per review."
The hotel could have been making a mint from this policy, as it has more than 140 reviews on TripAdvisor that ranked it "Terrible" out of 256 reviews in total.
Reviewer jeanette m posted two weeks ago on the site: "This place is filthy, it really needs closing down, bedroom full of mould, no heater, no hot water, beds need throwing away, couldn't bear to eat breakfast, staff drinking cans of Strongbow while serving breakfast, could not wait to get out of this place and get home to bathe."
Another traveller posted a photo of dirty socks in a drawer last month, and wrote: "There was a pair of socks left in the draws (sic) that had actually grown mould on them..."
There were 17 reviews ranking the hotel "Excellent".
Trading Standards officials believe the hotel may have breached unfair trading practice regulations, the BBC reported.
Area manager John Greenbank told the Daily Mail: "I have worked for trading standards for years and never seen anything like this.
"The management clearly thinks that (it has) come up with a novel way to prevent bad reviews, but we believe this could be deemed an unfair trading practice."