It’s story time here at youwmightbeawinner. Young Aaron from Portland, Maine writes, “Mr. Blogger, what do you have to say about the tale of the Innkeeper who had no room for guests writing bad reviews?” My child I’d say that this Innkeeper was living in Christmas Past where harsh penalties for harsh reviews were common. Listen here to the lessons that can be learned, when a store, brand or company is online spurned.

Our weary travelers went to settle down to a long winter’s nap. When throughout the room there appeared such a clatter, They sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. When what to their wondering eyes did appear, But a nasty shower and air conditioner to repair. On table lamp! On glasses! On laptop and wi-fi! To the Inn’s website to attack and decry.

Oh, but our Innkeeper was one step ahead, He had posted a policy on his website that said,

Guests agree that if guests find any problems with our accommodations, and fail To provide us with the opportunity to address those problems while the guest is With us, and/or refuses our exclusive remedy, but then disparage us in any public Manner, we will be entitled to charge their credit card an additional $350. … Should the guest refuse to retract any such public statement legal action may be pursued.

To his guests a $350 fine was imposed, To punish them for their untoward post. But out of the haze, like old Marley’s ghost, Came the Indiana Attorney General in this matter engrossed. Your policy is deceptive, unfair and abusive said he. The right to blog is a gift which no Grinch can steal from under the tree.

Can the Inn’s policy be legally backed? No, sayeth the Consumer Review Fairness Act. Passed by Congress just last year, In late December to give users Christmas cheer. No policies impose that prohibit or punish, Online reviews that call your place rubbish.

But from this law do not fret, The reviews must be honest, real and legit. Posts that are libelous, harassing and false, As well as obscene, vulgar and crass, Can be tossed to the curb on their brass.

A company can also complain to the review site used, To have posts taken down when their policies are abused. No lewdness, threats or payments to extract. They will take down a post when the site was thus hacked.

You may still bring to court a reviewer, Who falsely says that your Inn is a sewer. But peace on earth, goodwill to man, May just be a better plan.

As we see for our story, there is no ready cure, From awful reviews you just have to endure. Online reviews can be naughty or nice, So in Christmases Yet to Come, heed my sage advice.

So with a wink of my eye and my tongue in cheek tight, I wish a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!