Glenn Monroe and his wife own the Westbrook Inn, in Connecticut, which he describes as the “perfect” place to “step back in time to the romantic Victorian era.”
But that isn’t how some TripAdvisor reviewers see it. Although the Westbrook Inn is fairly highly ranked on the site, it has a few critics, some of which claim his rooms are overrated and that Monroe’s staff is “not nice.”
That’s not Monroe’s problem.
It is this: Some of the reviews about Monroe’s bed and breakfast are fabricated, he contends. And TripAdvisor has dragged its feet in removing the bogus reviews, costing him valuable business.
He asked me to look into the problem, and although I rarely mediate business-to-business disputes, I’ll make an exception for this one.
The problem started earlier this year when someone — Monroe isn’t sure who — posted a one-star review that claimed his hotel was a “horrible place” and said he was “rude and classless.”
“They said that they stayed with us in February,” he adds.
But that’s impossible, he says. The property was closed the entire month.
“I provided proof that my wife and I, who are the owners, weren’t even in the state by faxing in documentation of a reciept of our Florida stay for the entire month of February to TripAdvisor,” he adds.
Yet he contends TripAdvisor allowed the “smear campaign” to remain on its site for three weeks.
“I called countless times and got the runaround,” he says.
Finally, TripAdvisor removed the review.
End of story? If only.
We though we dodged a bullet, but the reviewer wrote another review, and it was even worse. It stated that a condom was on the bed, and much more.
We hired an Internet company to help us and to track down who was writing this review. TripAdvisor was no help and left the review posted for another three weeks before the company was able to convince TripAdvisor that this was the same reviewer.
We just got that review removed.
Monroe is upset that TripAdvisor moved slowly, costing him potential business. But he’s even more irritated at the tedious process of disproving a user-generated review, which involved seemingly countless calls, emails and faxes — a process he’s undergone three times now.
I share that concern.
Wouldn’t it be easier if guests verified they actually visited the property, instead of the hotel having to disprove they were there?
At the very least, Monroe says, TripAdvisor should release the IP address of the reviewer in question, so that he can know who’s behind the campaign. But it won’t.
(Hmmm, anonymous reviews? You know, hiding behind the Internet is so 1990s. If you’re going to say something publicly about a hotel, shouldn’t you have to use your real name?)
I asked TripAdvisor about Monroe’s problems. It acknowledged that it had reviewed and removed three reviews.
In all three instances, we immediately followed up with the owner and in two of the cases, removed the review within 24 hours of being contacted.