Αποστολέας Θέμα: American arrested for negative TripAdvisor and Google reviews  (Αναγνώστηκε 261 φορές)

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Αποσυνδεδεμένος thailandgr

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American arrested for negative TripAdvisor and Google reviews
« στις: Σεπτέμβριος 26, 2020, 10:42:31 πμ »
How a resort on Koh Chang handled a negative online review.... have the poster arrested.
Which is unfortunate, as the resort's initial response on Tripadvisor was fairly professional. Nothing else was required.

An American working in Thailand was jailed for three days, and still faces the threat of legal action, after posting negative TripAdvisor and Google reviews of a Thai resort, in another egregious abuse of the country's criminal defamation law.
Wesley B, 37, from Arkansas, who works as an English teacher in Thailand, stayed at the Sea View resort in Koh Chang in June, with a friend. They were unhappy with the attitude of the staff, in particular a farang employee called Jan. After complaining about the poor service, they were threatened and abused by hotel staff, who shouted at them and were very aggressive.
Wesley thought there was a dysfunctional relationship among foreign and Thai staff at the resort, with foreign managers treating Thai employees with contempt.
He posted a negative review of the hotel on TripAdvisor and Google, drawing attention in particular to what he believed was abuse of Thai staff by foreign management.
TripAdvisor never published the review, although Google did.
His review stated:
"The staff was not friendly. Nobody could smile.
The restaurant manager was very rude and full of himself. He is from the Czech Republic.
There are other hotels with better-friendlier staff.
Avoid this place as if it was the Coronoavirus!"
Wesley faced severe consequences for sharing his review of the Sea View resort.
Earlier this month, immigration police arrived at his workplace, with a warrant for his arrest.
He was taken back to Koh Chang on September 12, charged with defamation, and bail was set at 100,000 baht, which he could not pay immediately.
He spent two nights in jail until he was able to post bail, and he still faces the threat of further legal action — all because he was not happy with his stay at Sea View resort.
I contacted Tom Storup, rooms manager at the resort, to ask for comment.
He saw my messages but has not made any comment, and later blocked me on LinkedIn.
In a response on Trip Advisor, Storup claimed Wesley had refused to pay corkage for bringing a bottle of alcohol to the hotel restaurant and this was the reason for the dispute.
In his response, he wished Wesley well and made no mention of legal action.
It's extraordinary that at a time when Thai tourism is in crisis, the Sea View resort is pursuing legal action against a customer who was unhappy with his stay.
"I never thought a review could end in handcuffs," Wesley told me today. "I will fight it in court. Hopefully no one else has to live the same nightmare."





« Τελευταία τροποποίηση: Σεπτέμβριος 26, 2020, 10:46:20 πμ από thailandgr »


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Αποσυνδεδεμένος thailandgr

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Απ: American arrested for negative TripAdvisor and Google reviews
« Απάντηση #1 στις: Σεπτέμβριος 26, 2020, 12:22:02 μμ »
Thailand’s defamation laws are very severe, in particular when it comes to online content. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of a friend was arrested at his school for posting a one star review on Google maps about a resort he visited on Koh Chang. Yes, you heard right.

He was escorted 250km away to Trad to face a complaint made against him by the resort owner. It was a Friday and he ended up spending a couple of nights in jail before he was able to post a 100,000 Baht bail. If he didn’t have that money, he would have to wait months in prison.

In most cases, defamation laws are good as they are there to protect us. But it is sometimes abused. To have someone arrested at their workplace for posting a negative review is surely a step too far. Does this now mean none of us should post one star hotel reviews in Thailand?

This case should have never gone to court. It not only damages the reputation of the resort, but also the reputation of Thailand. This should have been settled out of court. Now the world knows that if a tourist posts a negative hotel review in Thailand they risk going to prison.

DISCLAIMER: I didn’t want to write about this straight away in case it prejudiced his trial and because there are always two sides to a story. But he has now spoken to a journalist. However, I still won’t name him or the resort because of Thailand’s harsh computer crime laws.

richard barrow thailand
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Απ: American arrested for negative TripAdvisor and Google reviews
« Απάντηση #2 στις: Οκτώβριος 09, 2020, 19:17:32 μμ »
He’s Sorry for His Bad Reviews. He May Now Avoid Prison.

An American who went to jail for disparaging a hotel in Thailand online apologized profusely as part of a deal to avoid prosecution, in an episode that laid bare that country’s harsh defamation laws.
BANGKOK — He’s very, very sorry. But the hotel in Thailand that threatened an American guest with prison for his bad reviews may end up with bigger regrets.

Wesley Barnes, the American guest, publicly apologized on Friday for his blunt online reviews of the Sea View Koh Chang resort in Thailand. In exchange, the hotel promised it would drop the complaint that led the authorities in Thailand to file criminal defamation charges against him.

More than wounded pride was on the line. In Thailand, criminal defamation charges can result in a prison term of up to two years. Mr. Barnes had already spent two days in jail after his arrest on those charges last month before posting bail.

The question now for the Sea View resort — and for Thailand’s tourism industry, which is struggling under the coronavirus travel freeze — is whether it can recover from the considerable damage its reputation has suffered by threatening Mr. Barnes with prison. The resort, on the Koh Chang island on Thailand’s southeastern coast, has been excoriated online for using the country’s tough defamation laws against a guest who didn’t enjoy his stay and decided to write about it.

Mr. Barnes struck a decidedly different tone on Friday, in a statement filled with stilted official language reminiscent of a forced confession.

“All of the statements that I made are completely untrue,” the statement said. “These reviews and comments were written out of anger and malice. Now, I, Mr. Barnes, have regretted my actions and would like to apologize to Sea View Koh Chang, and its staff.”

As required by the settlement with the hotel, Mr. Barnes also sent the statement to news outlets that covered his case, including The New York Times. He apologized “for my repeatedly false and untrue statements/reviews made to maliciously defame Sea View Koh Chang.”

Kitti Maleehuan, the Koh Chang police chief, whose office brought the charges, attended a settlement meeting on Thursday, according to the police.

The resort on Koh Chang island, an hour’s flight from Bangkok, said by email that it would drop its complaint if Mr. Barnes complied with the terms of the agreement by Oct. 30.

“After all conditions are met, the hotel will then withdraw the charges against the offender,” said Col. Kissana Phathanacharoen, deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Police.

Mr. Barnes did not respond to a request for further comment.

Mr. Barnes’s arrest and the filing of criminal charges last month over reviews he posted on TripAdvisor and Google alarmed many travelers, who have long felt free to post blunt and critical online reviews in Thailand and elsewhere.

The move also called into question the judgment of the Thai authorities for pursuing the criminal case just as Thailand is desperately trying to revive its tourist industry.

One of the government’s strategies is to encourage residents, including foreigners like Mr. Barnes who live in Thailand, to travel within the country. Tourism accounts for about a fifth of the country’s economy.

Human rights advocates have long criticized Thailand’s defamation law, which can lead to criminal charges for speaking out and is sometimes used by companies to silence critics.

The dispute began in June when Mr. Barnes, a hotel guest, objected to paying what he saw as an excessive $15 corkage fee so that he could drink from a bottle of gin he had brought to the hotel restaurant. A manager eventually waived the fee.

Mr. Barnes said in a statement after his arrest that he saw the same manager later harshly criticizing an employee and concluded that “there was some master/slave mentality going on.”

That inspired him to post a series of negative reviews on TripAdvisor and Google, including one in which he wrote, “Avoid this place as if it was the Coronavirus!”

The hotel said it repeatedly asked him to take down the reviews and posted its own detailed rebuttals online. The hotel said it had no choice but to go to the police after Mr. Barnes ignored their requests.

An “official statement” included in the settlement agreement said that the Sea View had decided in August to “protect its rights” by filing the criminal complaint.

“This decision was not taken lightly by the management team,” it said.

The settlement required Mr. Barnes to make a “sincere apology” for his reviews, including for mention of “using slave labor, xenophobic comments against hotel staff, and comparing the hotel to coronavirus on multiple occasions and website platforms.”

In his statement, Mr. Barnes expressed gratitude to the hotel for allowing him to avoid prison.

“The hotel has forgiven me and agreed to withdraw the complaint,” the statement said. “I would like to sincerely thank the hotel and its staff and take this opportunity to announce this news to the general public.”


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/09/world/asia/thailand-review-american-apology.html

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Απ: American arrested for negative TripAdvisor and Google reviews
« Απάντηση #3 στις: Οκτώβριος 09, 2020, 19:19:29 μμ »
Jailed American Apologizes for Defaming Koh Chang Resort


Wesley Barnes, in white hat, during a mediation session at the Koh Chang Police Station on Oct. 8, 2020.

TRAT — An American on Thursday offered a formal apology to a hotel that accused him of cybercrime for a series of disparaging reviews he wrote online – a complaint that resulted in the expat spending two nights in a police jail.

American teacher Wesley Barnes apologized to the management of Sea View Koh Chang hotel during a mediation meeting held on Thursday. Koh Chang police superintendent Kitti Maleehuan said both parties reached a settlement and the hotel agreed to withdraw all charges against Barnes, ending a legal affair that grabbed worldwide attention.

“I, Mr. Barnes, regret posting a false review about the hotel,” Barnes said in a statement issued to the media. “The comments I wrote were unfounded and were the result of my heedless behavior. I accept my mistake and apologize to the hotel.”

Although other media reports say Barnes was charged with Computer Crime Act as well as libel, Col. Kitti said only the former was used against him.
The hotel filed the complaints in September after Barnes reportedly had an argument with hotel restaurant staff during his stay and left one-star reviews on the popular travel site Tripadvisor.
One of the reviews urged travelers to avoid the Koh Chang resort “like the coronavirus” while another accused a hotel manager of mistreating his employees.
Barnes was arrested at the school he worked on a charge of posting false information on the internet, an offense punishable under the Computer Crime Act.
He was detained for two nights at a police station on Koh Chang before he could gather sufficient financial documents to post a bail.

According to the hotel, Barnes tried to bring alcohol into the restaurant and refused to pay a corkage fee of 500 baht. He reportedly had a heated exchange with a manager before he was eventually allowed to consume his own beverage without having to pay the fees.

The case also garnered much attention from the international media, highlighting once again the sweeping power of Thailand’s Computer Crime Act, which is often used by influential figures to punish critics and silence discussion on social media.

If found guilty, Barnes could have faced two years in prison.
Tinnapat Mepetchautmongkol, a lawyer representing Sea View Koh Chang, said the hotel is willing to withdraw the charges against Barnes after he met all the demands laid out by the company.
The conditions include issuing an apology statement to the media, the local tourism authority office, and Tripadvisor for defaming the hotel.
He must provide an explanation to the U.S. embassy in Bangkok as well.
Tinnapat said Barnes promised to carry them out by the end of this month.
“Barnes contacted us for a negotiation. We’re happy to put an end to the case, but he must show his sincere apology for his actions,” Tinnapat said.

https://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/crimecourtscalamity/2020/10/09/jailed-american-apologizes-for-defaming-koh-chang-resort/
"Δικό σου είναι αυτό που δεν μπορεί να υπάρξει χωρίς εσένα"
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