Resort could pay price for £100 fine

Unhappy customers: The Broadway Hotel in Blackpool. Below, some of the comments on the TripAdvisor website
Unhappy customers: The Broadway Hotel in Blackpool. Below, some of the comments on the TripAdvisor website

Fears for Blackpool’s image over trip advisor row

Fears have been raised that the furore over a Blackpool hotel which fined a couple £100 for posting a bad review on the TripAdvisor could cost the resort dear.

The Broadway Hotel has now agreed to refund Tony and Jan Jenkinson, who had described the establishment as a “dirty rotten stinking hovel” and scrapped the policy, which it said had been included in its terms and conditions.

But its move came after the story had hit the national headlines, with the hotel’s actions sparking widespread condemnation.

And there are concerns the publicity will deal a major blow to Blackpool’s reputation.

Graham Kamp, 51, who owns the Clifton Court Hotel on Clifton Drive - which has just won a Visit England silver award – said he feared the damage the story would do to Blackpool’s image.

“This gives the biggest negative publicity to Blackpool you could ever dream of after what has been a real busy season when everyone in the resort was upbeat.

“Hopefully this will encourage people to do their research and stay at a good place, but some could also just bail out of coming to Blackpool.”

The Jenkinsons, from Whitehaven, Cumbria, paid £36 for their room at the hotel on Burlington Road West for a single night and Mr Jenkinson posted his review at the end of August.

It mentions a broken hot water tap, drawer fronts that fell off and a kettle which would only work if two sockets were switched on due to a wiring issue.

It said the bed “must have come out of the ark” and in his video compared it to “lumpy rice pudding”.

He also complains about wallpaper peeling off the walls, a dirty and stained carpet, and tattered and filthy curtains.

After the review had been posted the couple say they noticed £100 had been taken from their back using the credit card details they had given when booking.

When they complained they were told the policy was included in the hotel’s terms and conditions.

The policy stated: ‘Despite the fact repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review’.

Tim Coglan, head of public protection at Blackpool Trading Standards, spoke directly to the man thought to be leasing the hotel, Jonathan Hartley.

“He’s confirmed he will refund the money to Mr and Mrs Jenkinson,” said Mr Coglan.

“He was amenable, contrite and apologetic.”

Mr Coglan said he would be reviewing the contracts and terms and conditions at the Malibu Hotel and Inglewood Seafront Hotel on the Promenade, which are either owned or leased by Mr Hartley.

Mr Coglan said there had been a food hygiene inspection at the hotel in February at which it has scored a rating of two out of five - deemed ‘less than satisfactory’.

Charge ‘a disgrace’ and ‘disgusting’

Visitors and hotel owners in Blackpool have told of their disbelief after Tony and Jan Jenkinson were fined £100 by The Broadway Hotel for posting a negative review on TripAdvisor.

Frank Williams, 83, from Sunderland, who was staying at the Silversands Hotel, also on Burlington Road West, with his wife Irene, said: “I think it’s a disgrace personally. There would be a court case if I was involved.

“If you do a review you expect to be able to say what you want, that’s the whole idea.

“I wouldn’t stay at a hotel that had that kind of policy.

“I think it’s the hotel that should be fined.”

Fellow guests Gary Hellewell and his wife Wendy, both 70 and from Wakefield, agreed.

“It’s disgusting,” said Mr Hellewell. “You should be able to comment on how you feel you’ve been treated at any hotel - how can they fine you for that?

“It should be against the law.”

But Jean Wood, 64, from Morley near Leeds, had some sympathy for the owners.

“I go on TripAdvisor and I think it’s brilliant, but I do not agree with people making nasty comments like this.

“It’s somebody’s business at the end of the day and people will look and see those derogatory remarks.

“I think this couple have gone too far.

“They should have approached the hotel owners with their points of view and taken it from there.

“However, I also feel the hotel should have told the guests what they were going to do rather than just take money off their card.”

John Birch, 54, who runs the Elmfield Hotel on Clifton Drive , said: “Whatever happened to freedom of speech?

“A lot of the reviews of The Broadway on Tripadvisor are bad – and it is all about free-speaking.

“Some reviews might be unfair but you look at the average and generally that is a fair reflection.

“You always have the option as a hotelier to give your own opinion on the site.

“This rule is basically saying you can never post a bad review.

“I’ve not heard of any other hotel owners who have done this and it’s obviously now backfired with all the negative publicity.”