The general response of any angry customer is writing up a negative review online. Well, it seems that sometimes, bad reviews can land you in jail.
An American man on a holiday in Thailand was in for an unlucky surprise when he posted a negative review of a resort in Thailand. The man was arrested under Thailand’s criminal defamation law and spent two nights in jail, awaiting bail.
What Led To The Negative Review?
Wesley Barnes was not pleased with having to pay a $15 corkage fee (a charge levied for bringing one’s own bottle of alcohol) at a restaurant. After arguing with the manager and employees at The Sea View Resort, the fee was waived. He reportedly later said that the hotel manager was aggressive.
After the incident, Barnes went online on TripAdvisor to write multiple negative reviews criticizing the resort, saying that the staff “act like they don’t want anyone there”, “Avoid this place as if it was the Coronavirus!” and even going as far as accusing the hotel of “modern-day slavery“.
However, Barnes maintained that the review comparing the resort with slavery was not published as he received an email from TripAdvisor stating that “we cannot publish your contribution as it does not meet our review guidelines”.
The hotel claims to have tried contacting Barnes several times directly but after receiving no responses from him and seeing his negative reviews across multiple platforms online, the hotel took the matter to the authorities and filed a complaint.
“We have no problem with honest reviews, as you can see, many negative reviews are still published. It’s the malicious defamation ones that are a problem. We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write reviews week after week for the near future,” the resort said in a statement.
And so, Barnes was arrested last month and spent two nights in jail, later getting out on bail.
He is set to appear in court next on 6th October and if found guilty under Thailand’s infamous criminal defamation law, could face up to 2 years in prison.
A Draconian Law
Thailand’s defamation law has long been criticized by human rights activists for being an easily abused tool used to silence dissenters. Under this law, a person can be forced to serve 2 years in prison and have to pay a 200,000 baht (₹4,63,685) fine.
This law has been used in the past against journalists and activists. Just last year, Suchanee Cloitre, a journalist, was sentenced to 2 years in prison for her 2016 tweet about working conditions at a poultry farm in Thailand.
Thailand’s tourism industry is a huge part of the country’s economy. The coronavirus pandemic has highly impacted the nation, having disrupted their economy, with Thailand having put up travel restrictions which have put a strain on the tourism industry. The incident with Barnes and the resort is not doing them any favours.
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This post is tagged under: Thailand tourism, Man arrested for a bad review, Thailand defamation law, Wesley Barnes, Arrested for online review, Man Jailed For Negative Hotel Review, sued for a bad review, tourism in a pandemic, holiday in Thailand