Inside PR 381: Penalties for bad reviews and questions about online privacy

Martin here.

This week, the gang’s together again…and we start by talking about a business that charges customers a penalty for negative online reviews.


In case you missed it, a hotel in upstate New York said it would levy a fine of $500 for bad reviews written by guests.

The company has since recanted the story claiming it was a joke that harkened back to a long-past wedding and they never removed the policy. Gini likens this to businesses that pay for positive reviews and says you can’t dictate what people say about you online good or bad. You just have to provide the best experience and customer service you can, listen and address issues. Here’s a link to the story for details.

We switch gears and discuss a study on online privacy by Craig Newmark and others that offers some insightful results. One of the main findings is that two-thirds of us either skim or don’t bother to read the terms of service. Which means we don’t know what we’re agreeing to or what rights we’re signing away.

Gini, Joe and I did a straw poll and it turns out the three of us all fall in that 66 per cent majority.

That’s not a good thing…

Joe links this to news that when Google receives a request under Europe’s right to be forgotten legislation, it has been informing webmasters about it before it takes down the links-in-question.

According to the WSJ, Google claims that alerting publishers to impending removals is the only way they can respond with their side of the story.

Joe’s concern is that we’re giving a private company the ability to make decisions about our privacy and rights based on its commercial self-interests.

I think the situation is similar to one we’ve always had with media: they have their own agendas, yet we trust them to filter stories and news.

It’s certainly a complex issue.

What do you think? About penalizing or paying for reviews? About reading terms of service, about the right to be forgotten…


We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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