A reminder to all readers: While visiting Thailand, don’t leave bad reviews for restaurants and spas – you may end up in a Thai jail.
This is exactly what happened to one American, who goes by Wesley Barnes, wrote a one-star review on TripAdvisor about a recent restaurant experience, was jailed over a defamation lawsuit filed by the owner, according to The Jakarta Post.
Barnes was sued by the owner of the Sea View Resort & Spa, Kah Change in response to the negative review. Here’s what was said:
Unfriendly staff, no one ever smiles. They act like they don’t want anyone there. The restaurant manager was the worst. He is from the Czech Republic. He is extremely rude and impolite to guests. Find a another place. There are plenty with nicer staff that are happy you are staying with them. – Wesley Barnes wrote on TripAdvisor
The resort/restaurant manager, Tom Storup, immediately responded to Barnes’ review. Here’s the response:
We are sad to see that you have decided to post 2 negative reviews (the first one removed by Tripadvisor for violating their review guidelines) with the only purpose to defame our Food & Beverage Manager and the resort. We are certain, however, that everyone that reads and compares your review to that of all our other guests will see that your comments are far from the truth. We think it is very unfair for that you have chosen to try to give a very negative image of our wonderful resort and our very friendly staff so we would like to shed some light on what made you go this far… – Tom Storup, Rooms Division Manager at Sea View Resort & Spa, Kah Chang
According to Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police, he told AFP News, that the “Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the Tripadvisor website.”
Taemsara said Barnes was accused of causing “damage to the hotel’s reputation.” He said Barnes had a brief yelling spat with the restaurant over not paying a corkage fee. Barnes was recently arrested by immigration police, where he was detained and then freed on bail.
Richard Barrow, a British ex-pat living in Thailand, tweeted that his friend, presumably Barnes, “was arrested at his school for posting a one-star review on Google maps about a resort he visited on Koh Chang.”
Thailand’s defamation laws are very severe, in particular when it comes to online content. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of a friend was arrested at his school for posting a one star review on Google maps about a resort he visited on Koh Chang. Yes, you heard right [THREAD] pic.twitter.com/18YDRoWit1
— Richard Barrow in Thailand 🇹🇭🇬🇧 (@RichardBarrow) September 26, 2020
As for Thailand’s strict anti-defamation laws, the American faces up to two years in prison if found guilty.