The days of silencing customers with a “gotcha” contract are numbered

If he reveals the details of his awful vacation-rental experience, Terry Fedigan is afraid of what might happen. The rental property’s owner could sue — and win.
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Should Hilton have the last word on this TripAdvisor takedown?

Have a look at the TripAdvisor reviews of the Hilton Garden Inn in Tampa.

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How to read an online review like a pro

Online review sites offer what appears to be helpful information. But it’s not always reliable.

Just a few days ago, Italian authorities fined TripAdvisor $600,000 for failing to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site’s content as “authentic and genuine.”
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Why won’t Airbnb let me review my ill-fated rental?

Leung/Shutterstock
Leung/Shutterstock
Mandy Fleming’s Airbnb rental couldn’t have happened at a worse place — or time.

Thousands of miles from home, on an extended visit to Hong Kong during the Christmas holidays, she showed up at her apartment with her husband and six-year-old son for an 18-night stay, only to discover the place fell dramatically short of its description.

Now, Fleming has a simple request: She wants to warn others about her substandard accommodations. And she wants my help.

I can’t invoke the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, since this happened at an apartment. But I would if I could. She contacted me a few days after trying, but failing, to fix the many problems in her rental.

And there were many.
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Why fake reviews don’t really matter

Catchawan/Shutterstock
Catchawan/Shutterstock
Don’t believe everything you read online, especially on user-generated review websites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp, which claim to help you find the best hotels and restaurants.

At least that’s the standard warning issued repeatedly by travel experts for the last decade. The ratings are rigged by hotel or restaurant operatives, or by unhappy patrons trying to shame a business, they say. Since the sites make no meaningful efforts to stop these bogus posts, all the so-called user-generated sites should be ignored when you’re planning your next trip.

That’s wrong.
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