Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Negative review lands US man in Thai suit




Negative review lands US man in Thai suit

Negative review lands US man in Thai suit

A US citizen has been sued by an island resort in Thailand over a negative Tripadvisor review, authorities said on Saturday. He could face up to two years in prison if found guilty.

Domestic tourism is still happening in Thailand, where coronavirus numbers are relatively low, with locals and expatriates heading to near-empty resorts – including Koh Chang island, famed for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters.

But a recent visit to the Sea View Resort on the island landed Wesley Barnes in trouble after he wrote unflattering online reviews about his holiday.

Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police said: “The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews of his hotel on the Tripadvisor website.”

He said Barnes was accused of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel”, and of quarrelling with staff over paying a corkage fee for alcohol brought to the hotel.

Barnes, who works in Thailand, was arrested by immigration police and returned to Koh Chang where he was briefly detained and then freed on bail.

According to the Tripadvisor review Barnes posted in July, he encountered “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here”.

The Sea View Resort said legal action was only taken because Barnes had penned multiple reviews on different sites over the past few weeks.

At least one was posted in June on Tripadvisor accusing the hotel of “modern-day slavery” – which the site removed after a week for violating its guidelines.

“We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future,” the hotel said, adding that staff had attempted to contact Barnes before filing the complaint.

Barnes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Thailand’s notorious anti-defamation laws have long drawn scrutiny from human rights and press freedom groups, who say powerful players use it as a weapon to stifle free expression.

The maximum sentence is two years in prison, along with a 200,000 baht ($6,300) fine.

Earlier this year, a Thai journalist was sentenced to two years in prison for posting a tweet referencing a dispute over working conditions at a chicken farm owned by the Thammakaset company.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from