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BizReport : Law & Regulation : February 05, 2013

TripAdvisor fights back against blackmail, negative reviews

Many business owners on TripAdvisor are seeing a worrying trend. Customers are threatening to write negative reviews unless they receive a refund, upgrade, freebies, or other request. TripAdvisor has launched a new feature as part of its management tools to help business owners who are being blackmailed.

by Helen Leggatt

tripadvisor_logo.gifThe review site has introduced (.pdf) a way for those being threatened to report blackmail or threatening behavior before a negative review is submitted.

"We take allegations of blackmail or threatening behavior by guests against property owners very seriously," said TripAdvisor in its announcement of the new feature. "This activity is strictly against our guidelines and may also be illegal in many locations."

To submit a report of potential blackmail, TripAdvisor businesses must go to the management center and click on "Manage your Reviews" followed by "Dispute a Review".

TripAdvisor also asks that businesses retain as much information and documentation relating to the blackmailer's behavior during a stay, including voicemails and emails.

If a low-rated review in line with the business owner's report is submitted, the TripAdvisor support team is notified and a process to prove blackmail is begun. The process can only be undertaken for reviews that have not yet been submitted.

TripAdvisor is currently the world's largest travel community with more than 60 million monthly visitors, 32 million members, and over 75 million reviews and opinions.

Tags: blackmail, customer behavior, law, regulation, review sites, travel industry, travel reviews

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