US man avoids jail in Thailand over bad resort review left on Tripadvisor and Google
An American teacher who posted negative comments about a Thai beach resort online has avoided jail time under the country’s strict defamation laws, according to local media reports.
- The resort said Mr Barnes “left multiple fabricated and slanderous” reviews
- Mr Barnes agreed to issue a public apology to the hotel and its staff, local media reports
- He was detained on September 12 and released two days later after posting bail
Wesley Barnes was facing up to two years in jail over a review he posted on Tripadvisor and Google about his stay at the Sea View Koh Chang in late June.
Mr Barnes, who works in Thailand, said he had a disagreement with a foreign restaurant manager over a 500 baht ($22 corkage fee for a bottle of gin he brought to dinner.
The resort said Mr Barnes “left multiple fabricated and slanderous” reviews, including one accusing management of treating staff like “slaves”.
Yesterday, Mr Barnes agreed to issue a public apology to the hotel and its staff to settle the dispute, according to local media Bangkok Post.
The report also said he would send a separate apology to the Trat provincial tourism office “for causing negative effects on the province’s tourism sector”.
“It seems like the hotel is ready to settle,” Mr Barnes said in a message to Reuters.
Police said Sea View Koh Chang had filed a complaint in August after Mr Barnes posted what the hotel described as “false and defamatory reviews”.
The hotel said it had reported the reviews to Tripadvisor and that some of them were deleted by the site administrator.
Mr Barnes was detained on September 12 and released two days later after posting bail, the island’s police said.
Under Thailand’s criminal defamation and computer crimes acts, he could be fined up to 100,000 baht ($4,475 as well as face jail time.
He said Tripadvisor did not publish some of his comments.
Tripadvisor has temporarily suspended submissions of reviews of the hotel.
The site said it was investigating the incident with the US Embassy in Thailand.
“Tripadvisor is opposed to the idea that a traveller can be prosecuted for expressing opinions,” it said in an e-mail to Reuters.