This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

TripAdvisor Blackmailers Demand Cash and Freebies

NEW YORK (MainStreet) - Want to score a free hotel room? Assuming you have no ethics?

There's an unscrupulous gambit known to work, but know this tactic - although becoming more common - is also becoming more perilous: the TripAdivsor  (TRIP) blackmail.

One innkeeper in the Midwest, who has experienced this predicament spoke with MainStreet only under anonymity, because he does not want to encourage repeat blackmailers who use threats to cadge free rooms.

Also See: Obnoxious Hotel Fees You Don't Have to Pay

This inn has many hundreds of TripAdvisor reviews. 99% are excellent. 1% are very good. It has none worse than that, and the owner is proud of that unblemished record.

So when a guest whistled him aside one morning and said, "I'm going to give you a horrible TripAdvisor review. Couldn't sleep a wink. Awful mattress" -- the owner went into panic mode.

"What can I do?"

"You can comp me the room, and I won't post on TripAdvisor," said the guest.

The owner quickly agreed - initially it seemed like a good deal.

Later he realized this was all wrong, that he had been scammed. "So many people tell me they love our mattresses, that they want to buy them for their homes," said the innkeeper.

But in that moment he gave in and that is just one of many hundreds - possibly thousands - of such extortion attempts that play out daily.

A wave of TripAdvisor spawned blackmail appears to be sweeping the country.

Evidence mounts in the United Kingdom, too, where, in recent weeks, newspapers have been awash with stories of TripAdvisor blackmail. The headline in the Tory broadsheet The Telegraph screamed: "Hotels 'hostage to TripAdvisor blackmailers.'"

"Restaurant, hotel and B&B owners in Britain have reported a huge rise in the number of customers using the site as a threat," The Telegraph wrote. "They say the guests often make a complaint and say they will post a bad review unless given a free bottle of wine, dessert or a bill reduction."

But word of advice: hold off before jumping on this freebie train. Not only is it unethical, but now hoteliers are gathering their weapons and at least some are counterattacking.

Also See: The Definitive Guide to Saving on Summer Travel

In the U.S., Kevin Beauchesne, who owns Bryson City Cabin Rentals in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, said that he "frequently" encounters guests who demand a freebie or "they will post a negative review."

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,172.68 -107.06 -0.62%
S&P 500 1,994.29 -16.11 -0.80%
NASDAQ 4,527.6890 -52.10 -1.14%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs