Is Glenn Monroe’s bed and breakfast really a “horrible” place? Let’s ask TripAdvisor

Glenn Monroe and his wife own the Westbrook Inn, in Connecticut, which he describes as the “perfect” place to “step back in time to the romantic Victorian era.”

But that isn’t how some TripAdvisor reviewers see it. Although the Westbrook Inn is fairly highly ranked on the site, it has a few critics, some of which claim his rooms are overrated and that Monroe’s staff is “not nice.”

That’s not Monroe’s problem.

It is this: Some of the reviews about Monroe’s bed and breakfast are fabricated, he contends. And TripAdvisor has dragged its feet in removing the bogus reviews, costing him valuable business.

He asked me to look into the problem, and although I rarely mediate business-to-business disputes, I’ll make an exception for this one.

The problem started earlier this year when someone — Monroe isn’t sure who — posted a one-star review that claimed his hotel was a “horrible place” and said he was “rude and classless.”

“They said that they stayed with us in February,” he adds.

But that’s impossible, he says. The property was closed the entire month.

“I provided proof that my wife and I, who are the owners, weren’t even in the state by faxing in documentation of a reciept of our Florida stay for the entire month of February to TripAdvisor,” he adds.

Yet he contends TripAdvisor allowed the “smear campaign” to remain on its site for three weeks.

“I called countless times and got the runaround,” he says.

Finally, TripAdvisor removed the review.

End of story? If only.

We though we dodged a bullet, but the reviewer wrote another review, and it was even worse. It stated that a condom was on the bed, and much more.

We hired an Internet company to help us and to track down who was writing this review. TripAdvisor was no help and left the review posted for another three weeks before the company was able to convince TripAdvisor that this was the same reviewer.

We just got that review removed.

Monroe is upset that TripAdvisor moved slowly, costing him potential business. But he’s even more irritated at the tedious process of disproving a user-generated review, which involved seemingly countless calls, emails and faxes — a process he’s undergone three times now.

Related story:   TripAdvisor's Kaufer: We "catch the vast majority of suspicious reviews"

I share that concern.

Wouldn’t it be easier if guests verified they actually visited the property, instead of the hotel having to disprove they were there?

At the very least, Monroe says, TripAdvisor should release the IP address of the reviewer in question, so that he can know who’s behind the campaign. But it won’t.

(Hmmm, anonymous reviews? You know, hiding behind the Internet is so 1990s. If you’re going to say something publicly about a hotel, shouldn’t you have to use your real name?)

I asked TripAdvisor about Monroe’s problems. It acknowledged that it had reviewed and removed three reviews.

In all three instances, we immediately followed up with the owner and in two of the cases, removed the review within 24 hours of being contacted.

The third case required us to follow-up with the owner several times, and, following further investigation, we removed the review in approximately three weeks.

In every case the owner was informed by email of the actions being taken.

In regards to the owners’ request for the IP addresses of the reviewers to be released, we are unable to share this without a subpoena as it is a violation of our privacy policy.

TripAdvisor also sent me a boilerplate statement about the integrity of its reviews and the effectiveness of its fraud-detection algorithm.

I asked Monroe what he thought of the rebuttal.

TripAdvisor’s comment that two of the reviews were removed within 24 hours of our complaint is blatantly false.

The fact is, one of us is telling a tale.

They refused my request and said the review met their guidelines on all accounts.

They even refused to post our owner’s response which we tried to write since they would not remove the review. Our inn’s reputation was allowed to be comprimised each time while they took their time doing their investigation.

The latest one maintained a three-week time frame and then was reposted by the same user with different writing but the same general attack tactics and content.

I showed TripAdvisor Monroe’s answer, and it said it had nothing to add and stood by its original rebuttal.

Related story:   Did yet another fake review slip past TripAdvisor?

Of course, this is a can of worms.

In coming months and years, you’ll probably decide if the TripAdvisor model of anonymous and unverified user-generated reviews is preferable to the professionally-written and verified reviews published by Frommers and Zagat, which are both now owned by Google.

(Full disclosure: My column appears on, which was recently acquired by Google. Something tells me I’m not going to survive the acquisition. But that’s life on the Internet, isn’t it?)

I can’t do anything more for Monroe. If another bogus review pops up, I can’t guarantee it will be fixed in 24 hours or three weeks — or ever.

But maybe you can help me figure out who’s telling the tale.

Update (8/24): TripAdvisor has sent me a chronology of events, which it asked me to publish.

Review 1/3 reported:

• On April 17, a 1 rating review appeared on the site, referencing a stay in February.

• On April 18, Chris Monroe (property representative) contacted Customer Support (CS) staff on the phone and within minutes of the call ending, reported the review through the Management Centre, stating: “Owners not at property as reviewer stated – on vacation in Fl. Supporting documentation provided by fax.”

• On April 19, the review was removed after indications of suspicion were found in data which suggested a connection between the reviewer and the property in violation of our guidelines

• The owner was emailed regarding the removal of the review.

Review 2/3 reported:

• On May 27, another 1 rating review appeared on the site.

• On May 28 the owner reported it

• On May 29, Chris Monroe called CS twice, both times requesting to speak with the staff member they had spoken to the previous month (on 4/18, see first review above). As she was unavailable, staff offered to walk them through the process of reporting/disputing a review, and they declined.

• On May 30, Chris Monroe called CS staff again and outlined her concerns that the review was submitted by their neighbor. CS indicated that the review had been through the appropriate procedures; Monroe requested to speak with a manager, and Sibu subsequently left her a message the following day (no response).

• On June 13, property representative called CS staff requesting escalation; on June 15, CS Manager received an e-mail regarding the review and email sent to reviewer for verification. E-mail sent to property noting that we take reports of fraud seriously, and that our process would require 7 -9 days (to account for the verification process).

• On June 22, the review was automatically removed by the system, following failed verification.

Review 3/3 reported:

• On June 26, a 1 rating review appeared on the site indicating that a condom was found on the bed.

• On July 5, the owner reported it and on July 6 it was pulled down and removed. An email was sent to the owner stating the review was removed.

These three particular cases did not seem one of the more common types of fraud, as these reviews were from public IP addresses from a standard internet service provider in NY (the majority of positive reviews also come out of the same area).

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at

  • The beauty of TripAdvisor is that people can leave anonymous reviews, just like on this site. I think TA has the obligation to follow up and remove blatantly (proven) false reviews but businesses should understand that it’s a FREE site. I really can’t see a cost effective way for TA to verify every review. (Or ban IP addresses for that matter). Also, I’m curious about why the OP couldn’t write a response. I see some properties where the owner annoying responds to every single review, good or bad…

  • This is a very simple follow the money. Who has incentive to lie? Had TripAdvisor removed the reviews in the time table that it claims, Mr. Monroe would have no reason to pursue this any further. By contrast Tripadvisor has no reason to invest time and money into quickly removing libelous and false posts in a timely manner.

    If TripAdvisor truly cared about the integrity of the reviews there are numerous methods that could be implemented to ensure that the posts. The simplest way would be, in case of a dispute by owner, requiring the poster to verify the factual assertions, e.g. proof that the poster stayed there, price paid,

    I do agree with on thing with TripAdvisor though. TripAdvisor shouldn’t divulge the identity of the poster absent a subpoena as there are as many vindictive owners as shady guests.

  • simonhb

    Not sure that the belief that “real names” will solve the problem is well-placed; as a datapoint something signed ‘Jack Jones, Manchester” is almost as vague as something signed, say, “mocklefish”

    Tripadvisor need to act more swiftly – perhaps while they’re processing their paperwork they should at least flag a post as ‘disputed by owner’ – but the key thing is for people to read Tripadvisor critically. Teaching people to smell when a review is spiteful rather than just robust – and you can, can’t you – is the best thing we could all do,

  • emanon256

    I read in the book Scammed about companies who hire many people to go and and write bad reviews about the competition, and good reviews about their client. That scares me and makes me not want to trust any of these on-line review sites.

    In this case, it sounds like someone with a vengeance or merely a competitor acting on their own since its the same reviewer.

    I think that TA needs to have a better process in place to make sure reviews are legitimate and not from a review farm, and have a dispute process for fake reviews. I understand them not giving the IP address as the property owner could potentially track down the individual and do harm. However I believe they have a responsibility to their audience to weed out these fake reviews and not drag their feet.

    I don’t understand the whole removal process either, as I went a restaurant with some friends a few months ago. The place was horrible, we were quite shocked. My friend wrote a bad review. He even mentioned the time, date, what we ate, etc. so it had a description of our issues as to why the review was bad. About a week later, his review was removed. The restaurant only has a few reviews, and most were decent, but the bad review is now gone and it was a legitimate review. That annoys me as much as them keeping up obviously fake reviews.

  • john4868

    Sadly TripAdvisor has no incentive to change it’s business model. Verifying people doesn’t help sell ads and, lets face it, that’s what they do. Making it harder to post a negative review will lessen the chance that people will post it, lower the chance that people will visit the site and reduce their ad revenue so I really don’t see them doing that.
    Welcome to web 2.0 where people can say just about anything and get away with it.

    On another note, I wonder who has it out for this B&B? Someone is going to a lot of effort to make him look bad on this site.

  • Michelle Norton

    I am a little concerned that the ‘owber response’ was not allowed to be posted. Seems unusual. Do you have any additional detail on that aspect?

  • Michelle Norton

    *owner* .. it’s a little early :)

  • emanon256

    I wonder if its toilet lady. Check them out on trip advisor. Someone posted a bad review, saying they noticed their toilet was leaking late at night and decided to report it then next morning. And that in the early morning the owner knocked on their door and was upset they didn’t report it last night or at least shut off the water. Toilet lady sounds nuts! I personally think the Inn should sue her for damages.

  • deemery

    I’ve used TripAdvisor successfully (i.e. happy with the recommendations) many times, and have been unpleasantly surprised only once (and even then I knew the place was “iffy” but the better places were taken.)

    My “algorithm” is to read the most recent reviews and then read all of the negative (1*/2*) reviews. For the latter, I’m looking for date (recent or old?) and trends. Sometimes it’s clear the person just had a bad experience, and even in the best of places things happen. Sometimes it’s clear there are some systemic problems with a place, e.g. noise, heating, that some find to be unacceptable but others don’t mind.

    Then I pick a couple of recommendations from TripAdvisor and use their meta-search/booking engine. I read the reviews on the booking sites, which often verify that the reviewer booked their stay through the booking sites. Usually those reviews confirm the TripAdvisor reviews, but sometimes not.

    Bottom line: Take all these user-generated reviews with a grain of salt, and look for trends across multiple sites.

    p.s. we stayed at one place that was highly rated in TripAdvisor and in several tour books, and my wife still hated it. It was perhaps ‘too quaint’ (rooms were small and dark in an historic building) and she found the steep spiral staircase too much after a day of walking around town. So in my review, I noted access as a significant concern.

  • SoBeSparky

    I am not sure either was lying. We have no proofs either way. Were the parties operating in good faith? Since the bogus reviews were removed, I’d have to conclude both parties fulfilled their responsibilities .

    That being said, any experienced TA poster, including me as a destination expert, will advise you to never place any undue emphasis on one or two reviews. The value of a huge database of reviews on a given property is to enable you to get an overall assessment that has high reliability.

    In other words, if you have 100 reviewers for a hotel and 89% would recommend it to their friends with a total rating of four and one-half bullets, that you can almost take to the bank. Sure you will have a few stinkers for whatever reasons. Maybe the hotel made some mistakes. Maybe the guest had just driven 10 hours and was really grouchy. It’s the human condition.

    No system is perfect and to expect that is absurd. No such animal will ever exist. TripAdvisor sure is a better alternative to one “professional reviewer” who (maybe) inspects some rooms, but never stays there. They never would be aware of the bed bugs at night or perhaps the gracious service at the morning’s bountiful breakfast buffet. Some guide books object to the free consumer database system of reviews for obvious reasons. You can hardly assess a property by walking through it and talking to management only.

    Most hotel properties, but probably not small B’nBs, have had hundreds of TA reviews. You can place a high level of trust in the overall results, given the small percentage of nasty enemies and the fake ringers praising a property. In any event, never trust just one review, good or bad.

    Please also remember to dig deeper into a reviewer’s profile. How many contributions? How long a member? How well traveled? You can get this info with a few clicks.

  • GNRMatt

    One thing I like about the reviews on TripAdvisor is that for each one you can see the Reviewers other reviews and how many have been left by that person. When you see someone has only left 1 review and it’s negative, that is someone who is probably either an inexperience traveler, a fake, or someone who just may like to complain and thus should be taken with a grain of salt. However, for a review by someone with at least 10 reviews from many different locations, that is someone you should take more seriously. They probably are not just going around posting fake reviews all around the country and they probably have enough travel experience to know how things should go.

  • I loved that book! ;-)

  • Charlie Funk

    Allegations of fabricated Trip Advisor reviews seem to be common of late. As noted, TA has no incentive to remove such reviews, indeed, to do so without due diligence might compromise the very service TA provides. That said, when a false review leads to financial loss or could reasonably be expected to lead to financial loss, has been demonstrated to TA that the revies is false and TA does nothing to correct the situation, TA has put themselves at risk of legal action. Whether the plaintiff prevailed or not, were those injured to take such legal action in a timely manner, my sense is that the sheer number of suits that TA would have to face might give TA the incentive to act in a more timely fashion.

  • Courtney Miller

    Welcome to the world of “Web 2.0” social media reviews. When companies can hire PR firms to flood review sites with positive reviews to drown out the legitimate negatives, we also have the case where a single individual can bring a smaller company to its knees. The review sites don’t care… they say they try to detect fraud, but obviously it will never be perfect. And every review they take down is one more admission their system is flawed. I always read the glowing AND the negative reviews and weigh the legitimacy of both. If one crackpot wants to slam a place, it will probably stand out as a personal vendetta or a fake. So too will dozens of perfect reviews. But not everyone uses critical thinking, and places suffer for it. But like it or not, people trust other people more than professional reviews now, so this is what happens. Over and over.

  • phil

    I have posted over 150 reviews on TA and when I use TA for information from past guests regarding a hotel, I generally look at reviewers that have numerous posts rather than just one, I also look at reviews that go back no more than 6/8 months as things change at hotels and just like many things, reviews that are old and dated may no longer reflect that particular property. I think reviewers with numerous posts are probably more reliable than a reviewer with just one post.

  • Richard Gordon

    I disregard any poster with less then five reviews.
    Ever notice negative reviews with only one or two postings.

  • disqus_A6K3VBf8Zn

    Is there any question? Coverups are common. Often too many say a place is great when there are some flaws. A few only see black.

  • ClareClare

    Just recently, I posted a one-star review on TripAdvisor for a cesspool of a hotel in south Italy, run by thieving thugs… and TripAdvisor refused to post it, claiming that I was “name-calling.” (I didn’t call them “thieving thugs” in the post, btw, although that’s exactly what they were–in fact, I didn’t call them anything at all, carefully sticking to the objective facts, of which there were plenty!) That particular hotel hasn’t had a TAdvisor review posted for over two years, which makes me wonder whether the same thing hasn’t happened to other legit, negative posters like me.
    I’ve heard accounts of other posters whose legitimate reviews of hotels have been spiked by TAdvisor; while at the same time, Chris has documented blatantly bogus reviews which get posted and stay that way. So what I’m seeing is, TripAdvisor may claim to have a “system” that “ensures” that false reviews are caught and genuine ones aren’t; but DUH, it doesn’t work, as any blind man can see…

  • Edward Boston

    To the owner of the B&B, having the IP address would not help alot. TA could use that to determine if a new posting from the same IP address was made to replace one TA removed, but does not conclusively prove it was from the same person or household. Unless the person has a static IP address, something that is not common with home internet providers, the IP can be moved from account to account. I may end up with the IP address you had yesterday. And even if TA’s policies allowed them to share the IP with you, all you could then find out is the service provided associated with it. They are not going to give you any details about it either without a subpoena either. And even if you had that, you would then need the time and date the posting was made for the ISP to identify the person.

    Bottom line, TA needs to do a better job filtering bogus and repeated bogus review postings. They have access to the data to help with that, not the users.

  • ClareClare

    I totally agree about not divulging identities, because of my own experience:
    I once wrote to Marriott HQ about the all-male housekeeping staff at their Nazareth, Israel hotel, who were trying to get into the rooms of us female guests during the night (and yes, long story, but we did determine that it had to be the staff, who actually were openly asking questions about which rooms the young women were staying in). Marriott’s customer non-service “responded” by sending my letter to the head of the hotel, who proceeded to track down my phone number in the US and leave multiple phone-messages, in which he shouted at me and demanded that I phone him in Israel! (Could I make that up?) Granted, at that point I was safely on the other side of the world… but nonetheless, even if only in principle, it’s a TAD disconcerting to know that the supervisor of a group of male employees–who’d been trying to break into our rooms at night!–knew my name, home address, and home phone number.

  • Adam1222

    Who cares whos lying? Glenn Monroe needs to get over it and face the fact that this is part of operating a modern business. If there were a questionable anonymous positive review, he wouldn’t be so quick to castigate TA.

  • Unfortunately, without writing a lengthy legal explanation that would bore everyone, including me, suffice it to say that Tripadvisor is not at risk of legal jeopardy as it merely provides a forum.

  • Sue her for what exactly?

  • “Wouldn’t it be easier if guests verified they actually visited the property, instead of the hotel having to disprove they were there?”

    That’s something we’re trying to tackle with the launch of GuestComment. By placing review kiosks onsite, not only can guests and management resolves issues in real time, but the review has to physically take place while the guest is staying at the inn (or hotel).

  • andrelot

    I can’t answer, it is impossible to know “who’s lying”.

    This being said, I don’t think the only two models are “anonymous reviewers” vs. “professionally reviewers writing for travel guides”.

    Travel/reference guides are suffering heavily from having lost the virtual monopoly they had on gate keeping “unbiased information” about lodging (or restaurants for that matter). While I do like to read some incidental reviews on such guides/professional sites, I recognize they are limited in terms of coverage.

    There can’t be, in 2012, a viable business model in which a travel guide could afford paying reviewing staff to stay several nights on each hotel it covers in each city, and repeating the process several times per year. And even if it could, there would still be some reviewer bias. So user-generated reviews are here to stay.

    The solution to bogus user-generated content issue is two-fold:

    (1) those who use such reviews must learn how to weed reviews themselves. After using such sites several times, I’ve mastered up to a point the ability to smell a laundry-list style review of some guest that didn’t like something and then when with a boatload of complaints or a case of misplaced expectations of the guests.

    (2) in the interest of both the hotels and the fellow review sites, they should adopt policies that verify guest stays. Some hotel reservation websites like Booking already capitalize on it by allowing only guests whose reservations were processed and paid for write reviews, after they check-out. Review sites could still allow anonymous reviews after checking, themselves, reviewers identity like through a $ 0,02 refundable transaction on credit card – like PayPal does. That would flush out most hidden/bogus reviewers and still guarantee anonymity.

  • Fitting this comes out on the same day XKCD cartoons about star ratings:

  • emanon256

    Damages to her property. I am not a lawyer, so I could be wrong. But if a property guest damages the property, then couldn’t the owner sue them?

    The guest review and owners response both affirm that in the evening the toilet started leaking/spilling through the floor and into the space below. The guest says that she decided to wait until morning to say anything. The only discrepancy is that the guest says the toiled was leaking into the floor below, and the owner says the toilet was continuously overflowing.

    Either way, wouldn’t the guest have a duty to mitigate damages by reporting this leak immediately and/or attempting to turn off the water valve? The guest turned what could have been solved with a few towels and disinfectant into a multi thousand dollar repair job by not reporting it or turning off the valve.

    If I were the owner, I would have called an attorney ASAP.

  • Really? So if I have a bad experience but no time to come up to a “kiosk” and file a review it shouldn’t count? There are better ways to prove you were there – how about just asking for a confirmation # for the reservation tied to the poster’s name?

  • Would you also like their social security and driver’s license number? :-) Our system still allows for anonymous reviews, but you’ll at least know they were physically at your property. Think about how the tone of the subsequent Tripadvisor review may have been improved, if the hotel had been notified sooner–and given the chance to assist. With inns in particular, you may not always be able to find the manager to complain to, but anything posted to GuestComment would be emailed/texted immediately to the management.

  • Ted Rosenberg

    Every property owner is going to be upset about bad reviews, AND will ask to have them removed. MOST bad reviews are legitimate opinions of the poster, not unwarranted attacks, so Tripadvisor is right in being cautious about removing them. I have posted some scathing reviews, and, in one was contacted by tripadvisor to make sure I actually posted it (I SIGN my reviews) I am sorry that it took a while to get it fixed, but, if they just removed criticism when asked, the reviews would be worthless.

  • emanon256

    So if someone posts a bad comment and are still staying, the manager can then make the rest of their stay miserable?

  • Yeah, or fix the issue. Even we can’t polish a turd. If management doesn’t care, they probably wouldn’t pay for our service anyway. ;-)

  • Dutchess

    I don’t think either side is lying. I think they both have their version of the story and 24 hours from when they read an email and when the email was sent are two different times.

    What I do think is that the negative reviews out there for the B&B seem to be fairly consistent. I don’t see any one person being outlandish in their claims. I believe it’s a ‘charming’ place but it’s also an old Victorian house on a busy road. It’s across from a Dunkin’ Doughnuts, they don’t usually put those on a quiet side street.

    Also, B&Bs are not for everybody. What some people call charming and cozy I would find tacky and stuffy. It looks a bit too much like an old lady’s house with too many busy floral prints and fake flowers hanging everywhere. I can enjoy seeing photos of it but it’s definitely nothing I want to live in or stay in.

  • Darryl Wilson

    These days travellers are saavy enough to look for trends on Trip Advisor. You can figure out which reviews are bogus and which aren’t. You can also tell which reviewers are just over reacting and making a big fuss over nothing. Some people are just professional complainers with completely unrealistic expectations. Plus the reality is that when you are an operation that is constantly operating 100% of the time, naturally there are things that will go wrong occasionally. I would hope that the travelling public would be reasonable and forgiving of that and look for the patterns and trends of the business. If most of Mr. Monroe’s reviews consistently stated he was rude, I would be concerned if I was him. If it’s just one, it hasn’t cost him any business. Travellers will read more than one review.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Any person that depends upon Trip advisor is wasting their time.There have been hundreds, nea thousands of disputes and controversies surrounding there purpose. (“I was forced to give my hotel a 5 star rating or be fired?”) ( They are my competition so lets make up a few lies.)
    And finally:
    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today fined
    ticket agent TripAdvisor $80,000 for violating the Department’s rules on
    full-fare advertising, the first penalty for violating the Department’s new
    airline price advertising requirements that took effect in January, as well as
    for failing to disclose that flights were being operated under code-sharing
    agreements. The company was also ordered to cease and desist from further

    I don’t care what they post, I look for a few ideas and figure.

    Fighting them is fine, but they are a 1 star site by my rating.

  • ‘Lying’ is part of operating a modern business ?!! Since when ?!!! I DO care who’s lying… and that is part of the reason that we read Chris Elliott’s blog… to get to the truth !

  • Adam1222

    If you think this blog is about the truth, you must be confused. Half of the consumers who write in are being kind to themselves in their versions of the “truth.”

  • Lindabator

    But when shown the B&B was CLOSED, the review should have been removed immediately. And most folks are not as savvy as you, and would have been horrified at the idea of staying there. This is no LARGE hotel, but a simple B&B, so even a few bad reviews steering someone elsewhere can make a difference to their bottom line. Sad.

  • Lindabator

    And therein lies the problem with TA – it can arbitrarily do what it likes, regardless of the truth of the matter.

  • Lindabator

    But when shown the B&B was closed, why did it STILL wait 3 weeks to remove? How about posting that the review has been challenged, and is under review? that would satisfy both, and once cleared up, it would be evident who the problem was.

  • I didn’t read the toilet lady review. The question would be did she cause the leak or was in some way responsible for the leak, If she was then she’s liable. If she didn’t then she has no liability.

  • If the guest wanted management to know immediately about the stay, why would the guest use your system as opposed to simply asking for the manager?

  • The same reason some people pick up the phone, fill out the comment card, or just leave a note in the room. People like to have a choice. Besides, GuestComment is not just about resolving conflict, our main focus is to help hotels collect positive feedback or, heck just some constructive criticism. Not everything would warrant a face-to-face meeting. But yeah, if my AC unit was busted, I’d want to speak to someone pronto. ;-)

  • No…I’m not confused… Chris does his best to get matters resolved to the best of his ability… and myself and many others appreciate it…

  • Adam1222

    Which is not the same as “getting to the truth.”

  • In your opinion… You don’t know what ‘the truth’ is either… I suspect you are one of those people that always ‘has to be right’…

  • Adam1222

    Thanks for making this a personal attack. Have a good day in your search for “the truth.”

  • jim6555

    Trip Advisor needs to clean up its act or people (like me) will lose faith in them and look elsewhere for information. A good start would be requiring reviewers to scan and email a copy of a receipt showing that the reviewer actually stayed at the subject property. I submitted a positive hotel review last evening and would have gladly provided the proof if it was requested.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Yeah, I thought that was a key part of the whole story. Irrespective of whether or not Trip Advisor agreed to take down the negative review, the owner should have been able to respond to it.

    At least for me, if the original negative review had remained on the site with an owner response saying “Sorry, but we were closed all of February” I’d have likely attributed other out-there negative reviews as being some sort of smear campaign.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    In TA’s defense, the proof of the place being closed wasn’t exactly definitive. I’m not doubting that they were closed and on vacation in Florida, but receipts of their trip prove nothing. Another family member could have stayed home and been running the place, it could have been employees in charge (which would actually make it more likely that service would slip, prompting negative reviews), etc.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I don’t even see an easy non-cost-effective way to verify every review. It would require some cross-check between the reviewer and the hotel to verify they’d stayed there which would be cumbersome for all involved.
    And small places like B&Bs would know who had been problem guests and would just deny they’d ever stayed there to effectively block negative reviews. The only people who would jump through all the hoops would either be completely in love with the place or vengeful against it; the middle ground which is what makes reviews useful, would be lost.

  • SoBeSparky

    I entirely agree. When we read the anecdotal, however, we must be careful not to then assume the general. TA is successful because people generally get accurate reviews and successfully stay at well-reviewed places. No free site can stay alive with bad info. This clearly was a mistake, but I would not say one or the other lied. When dealing with a corporate bureaucracy, sometimes mistakes are hard to correct. This took three weeks.

    Compare this to an airline which does not refund real money ($$$) for 14-18 months or so, a complaint Chris has written about many times.

    People must become savvy if they wish to use free review sites. They must dig into the background of the reviewer, and if it does not exist or the site does not allow background info, then just forget about the reviewer or the site.

    It is common sense to trust a review as one person’s honest opinion of a TA member since 2009 who has made over 50 contributions and traveled on three continents, rather than a reviewer who joined last month, has posted one contribution, and does not list his/her home city.

  • Michael__K

    I agree, but I wonder how easily TripAdvisor could rigorously verify people even if it wanted to. Someone willing to go to the extraordinary efforts described here to repeatedly post fake reviews might also be capable of producing a fake email confirmation or invoice.

    I imagine TripAdvisor would need to get all of the OTA’s (and hotel chains) to agree to collaborate with them to allow for electronic verification of name + date + confirmation number. And that still might not account for walk-up and phone-reservation guests.

  • Kevin Mathews

    While on the surface, I would agree with you that they simply provide the forum, but they actually go a step beyond that on their website that could put them at jeopardy. They Specifically state on their website a one thing that might make them more then a simple forum:
    * “TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travelers”
    By claiming that it’s trusted, that could put them in the line of fire for a Libel lawsuit by allowing it to be posted and stating that they trust it. That’s like giving it their stamp of approval… Their only saving grace is their ability to quickly remove the comments from the site. But a good lawyer could argue that if they trust it, they should be required to vet it before it’s posted…

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’ve never read the fine print in hotel policies but I know some leases include clauses requiring the renter to promptly inform the landlord of issues. Failure to do so would put them on the hook for extra damages done as a result of the delay. (Like not reporting a leak for months.) Of course, this case would be a question of waiting hours and not months. Plenty of room to argue over how severe it would have to be to require an immediate report as opposed to waiting until morning.

  • Guest

    Actually, Adam1222: You made it three personal attacks, first on Glenn Monroe with your “Get over it” line and hostile attitude, then to Lisa with your “you must be confused” and finally to Chris with “if you think this blog is about the truth…” And your exit line “Have a good day in your search for “the truth” does not inspire anyone to take your side of anything.

  • Adam1222

    I wasn’t hoping for an anonymous poster to take my side, dearie. And I don’t think its an insult to Chris to say his blog isn’t dedicated to rooting out “the truth.” It’s not a fact-checking site, it deals with consumer complaints and sometimes seeks happy resolutions – which will rarely end up discovering the “truth.”

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I doubt hotels would ever buy into such a system because of liability concerns in the event of a data breach. Sure, Trip Advisor would make reviewers agree to the verification, but there’s payment info that would need to be safeguarded and what of the info on all the other guests in the system? All their data would need to be safeguarded.

    But even looking past the security concerns, a system like that would scare the crap out of me if I ran a mid-classed hotel that provides affordable accommodations but rarely knocks customers’ socks off. The vast majority of would-be reviewers would say “forget it” the second they were forced to find their reservation number or had to figure out if it was them or their significant other who was the one attached to the reservation. The only people left willing to jump through the hoops would either be fanboys or have an axe to grind. If you’re a Best Western, get ready for a ton of one-star reviews. And as the number of reviews fell, Trip Advisor would lose significance and eventually disappear.

  • True, its not conclusive proof, but they’ve made the prima facie case.

  • I seriously doubt that would fly. Tripadvisdor has thousands upon thousands of reviews from all over the world. No reasonable person could believe that they vet each review before its posted.

  • JenniferFinger

    First of all Adam, lose the “dearie.” You don’t mean it affectionately. I’m the one who posted. And yes, you did insult a number of people here. Also, you do not have a monopoly on the “truth,” nor are you clairvoyant or even divine. So, knock off the snideness. You lower the level of civility for everyone and contribute nothing of value with it.

  • Adam1222

    Thanks for the tips! xoxox!

  • Perhaps. Although the nature of a lease and a hotel stay are so different, I’d be hesitant to use one as an analogy for another. I’d probably look first at the innkeepers laws of said state.

  • S E Tammela

    Who’s lying? How can we answer that (and it’s not really the point, anyway)?

    I find it ridiculous to call for the company to release the IP. They are 100% correct that it’s not appropriate. It’s akin to demanding someone’s phone number. If I have the right to write an anonymous review (which is what TripAdvisor is about) then how dare someone think they have the right to know the identity of the reviewer?

    Incidentally, it’s not necessarily useful to have the IP anyway. Many people’s IPs change frequently, often the IP will represent MANY different people, and if I were intent on smearing a business, I can use technology to fake my IP anyway.

    I can certainly understand how frustrated this owner is, but ultimately, TripAdvisor shouldn’t need to investigate every claim of “fake” reviews. Anyone can fax a fake itinerary proving their hotel was closed… I’m not saying the owner was dishonest, I’m saying TripAdvisor can’t possibly always know when reviews are fake.

    The most constructive thing an owner can do is to look after their customers, encourage feedback and leave a guestbook out for testimonials. If you culture the good reviews, the odd negative one-star will look ridiculous and be ignored by most readers anyway.

  • flip44

    Yes, a competitor or someone with a nasty grudge.
    The BNB should add a banner to its site with “We have been hacked with erroneous bad reviews. Our good reputation is intact. We are dedicated to good service. You defintely will enjoy your stay here. Promise”

  • Bill___A

    I went to tripadvisor, the only negative comment was left by some less than stellar guests who left the toilet running all night rather than call someone. The rest of the reviews seem to be from people who are quite happy.
    I know that all of the tripadvisor reviews are not completely true. I get suspicious when they are too good or too bad, unless they are all good or all bad. I also try to be truthful when I write a review there – and I have written quite a few.,

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