I was shocked the other day to read an article about a hotel in New York that added a clause to their wedding contracts that prohibits anyone associated with an individual’s wedding to post a negative comment or review on any online site, such as Yelp. If they or any of their guests posted a negative comment about the hotel, the hotel would deduct $500 per comment from their deposit. I found this idea outrageous. If you are in the business of serving the public, how do you penalize someone for providing an opinion?
I learned many years ago that you are never going to be able to please 100% of the population 100% of the time. While none of us really enjoy getting a negative review, it is bound to happen sooner or later. And in some cases, getting negative feedback could be a good thing as it may point out an issue that you were unaware of, or provide you with an idea to improve upon your product or service. Some may argue that this hotel was trying to keep invalid complaints off of social media. Anyone who has worked in a customer-facing industry can attest to the fact that you have encountered that customer who never has anything good to say about anything and complains to receive services for free. If customer complaints become a consistent problem in your organization, keeping negative comments off of social media should be the least of your worries.
Contractually obligating a bride and groom to discourage negative feedback is ludicrous. The property claimed they received negative press due to the fact that their location was an older, historic building and the expectations of a guest may not be met if they were looking for a more modern facility. A clause in a contract such as this would make me think seriously about looking elsewhere to hold my event. If a property needs to present their event contract in such a way, I see this as a huge red flag signifying a lack of confidence in their product and/or service. Honestly, if they do not have the confidence to pull off an event without threatening their customers with monetary retaliation, then I would not have the confidence to place my event in their facility.
What do you think? Should an organization be allowed to penalize a customer for providing an opinion if is happens to be negative?