A Brand Case Study in What Not to Do

**Update: 8/4/14 — As of 3 p.m., it appears the Union Street Guest House has deleted the Facebook posts — including hundreds of comments — in an attempt to put the situation to bed. All we can say is…yikes. Another shining example of why it’s crucial to have a savvy Community Manager on staff if your brand is going to dabble in social. 

Before you read this post, consider the following:

  • Customers are 3x more likely to tell their friends about a negative experience.
  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for 1 unresolved negative experience.
  • 80% of people will not buy from a brand that has negative reviews.
  • It takes 10 positive reviews to offset one negative review. [source]

If you’re looking for a case study in:

  1. Terrible customer service
  2. Poor crisis management
  3. How not to do business

…today is your lucky day.

The New York Post reports that the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York, fines couples $500 for every negative review posted online (on any website) by one of their guests.

But it doesn’t end there. The hotel will also fine you $500 if you’re staying there to attend a wedding at another venue in the area, but leave a negative review about your stay.

The hotel policy, which was promptly deleted this morning after making national news, originally it read…

Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not.

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. If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review.

The hotel agrees to give you back your money if the negative review is taken offline.”

In what I can only liken to a social media train wreck, the brand took to their Facebook page this morning and issues this statement:

hudson innMore than 100 Facebook comments later, it’s safe to say that nobody is buying that story. Given the hotel’s alleged history, I imagine the comments will be deleted as quickly as they come in, but if you’re looking for a front-row seat to a case study in what not to do, it’s worth checking out.

In hilarity, the hotel’s website boasts a listing of all the media sources that have featured the inn. Something tells me they won’t be bragging about their recent media coverage…


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