The innkeeper of Merida that beat TripAdvisor

“Horrible. It is a fraud. You steal.” Such a Jorge-Troy has been dispatched to taste with the complex of hotel, gas station and café that runs in Merida extrema

The innkeeper of Merida that beat TripAdvisor

“Horrible. It is a fraud. You steal.” Such a Jorge-Troy has been dispatched to taste with the complex of hotel, gas station and café that runs in Merida extremadura, José Romero, of 69 years. He left his opinion on the popular page of reviews TripAdvisor on the 17th of July 2018. Neither liked the room (“dirty”, “all kinds of noise”) or the sandwich of ham and cheese (“I take out a currisco, and nine euros”) and note that, as soon as he could, went fleeing from there to the nearest café with “normal price”. Romero, sick of “endure insults and threats”, sued TripAdvisor. And he has won.


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A court of Mérida has condemned the american company —that bill 1,400 million euros— to withdraw the comment, posting in their place the sentence, and to indemnify the owner of the hotel with 300 euros for the damage caused. It is, according to the lawyer who has led the case, Carlos Huertas, of the first sentence of this type that gives the reason to an establishment that saw his name maligned in this popular website, which is consulted each month nearly 500 million internet users around the world looking for opinions of other travelers. The ruling appealed.

The Hotel Romero Merida currently has 188 reviews on TripAdvisor, with an average of 1.5 points on a 5, a score that in this web site equates to “bad”. “There are several people who try to take discounts of any glitch or small error and they care little going to social networks, and get green,” laments Romero, who brings 33 years in the hospitality industry and a decade with this business, located at an exit of the motorway A-66, the Silver route. “You had to take the bull by the horns and go to court. However great it may be, can you win them”, he says satisfied. “It is not just that talk bad about, is that they insult you and even threaten you and we can't allow that,” he adds.

The hotel Romero Merida, on the website TripAdvisor.

Rosemary ensures that this is only the beginning, because it has launched more lawsuits against TripAdvisor. “Already iran coming out”, get ahead, and ensures that other hoteliers, “as a result of that see that they can win, they'll be adding”. The sentence that gives the reason you believe the comment is an attack to the right of honor “to say that the establishment will steal and that is a fraud.” The innkeeper sent an email to the company on 4 October 2018 to request that they remove the comment, but got no response. According to the decision, neither TripAdvisor nor its Spanish subsidiary answered the complaint nor appeared at the trial. A spokesperson of the company says, instead, that they never received notice of the complaint. “We're disappointed that we are not granted the right to defend ourselves,” he says.

comments of users of TripAdvisor were the protagonists of another trial in Spain last may. On that occasion a hospitality of Valencia claimed 660.000 euros to the portal by not controlling the negative feedback and not allow you to unsubscribe. A user accused the restaurant of “defrauding the Social Security” and “personal plugged poorly qualified”. Another rebautizaba to the Marina, Beach Club, in the port of Valencia, as “Toxic Beach” because she claimed that he had been sitting wrong the tartar. The owner asked for compensation for moral damages.

A judge of Barcelona dismissed the lawsuit in September to consider the filters applied by TripAdvisor they worked (two of the comments libelous reported were removed). The ruling also mentions that the freedom of expression and the right to information of the potential clients do not allow you to close the profile of the restaurant, created by users, as requested by the employer.

the owner of The property shows a card of the café. Esteban Martinena

The sentence of Barcelona, according to the lawyer Carlos Huertas, is not the same as the Merida: “Went to a Commercial court as a claim in regard to unfair competition. Our demand is strictly civil, and is based on the website's liability for content published by third parties that have a component highly defamatory”. Gardens ensures that there is little case law on this issue by several factors: the legislation that regulates it is recent and the subject matter is very specific and complex. “The predominant position and power of TripAdvisor, joined the social conception that it has on the impunity of anonymity on the Internet, I also work as a deterrent effect that culminates in a feeling of resignation of the hoteliers affected,” he adds.

will Not be so for a long time, judging by the “widespread concern” that have been shown in the past few years the hoteliers Spanish, tells Emilio Gallego, secretary general of the employers ' Hospitality of Spain, which represents 300,000 businesses. Many owners of bars or restaurants have asked for legal advice to the federation and its 40 territorial associations. “One thing is the negative comments and the other is defamation and violating the right to honor,” says Gallego. “The good name and the reputation of companies is also a protected right in a free economy and market as it is ours,” he adds.

Gallego believes that this type of sites “must have quality controls for the comments, and of truth, so that those who are commenting from truth has been a client”, which “would lead to greater reliability”. The representative of the hoteliers ensures that have been raised to TripAdvisor a “conflict resolution mechanism” and a space of mediation because, he says, “it is sad to come to a judicial procedure”. Ensures that have not received a response from the american company.

“The court has not understood the nature of our platform: we believe in the right of clients to freedom of expression, and we are proud to have given to the tourist community a voice to share their experiences and guide to other travelers,” says the spokesperson from TripAdvisor, which adds that this failure does not feel a precedent because there are other judgments in its favor that “recognize the right of consumers to express their opinion”. The company will appeal the ruling.

José Romero ensures that you will not tolerate more insults and encourages other hoteliers to sue. On the low score of the hotel, it recognizes that the bridges of summer cafe “is a craze that absorbs thousands of customers a day, most with no reserve and all with in a hurry”. “It is very difficult to serve them properly,” he adds. “Speak evil of all, even of the part of the business that do not know”. Account a case, like the lady who complained about the precio of toast with ham. “In the letter comes with a photo and the price and asks for it. Then it says that it is very expensive. Because you do not ask, do not you?”.

Two rights at stake: the honour and the freedom of expression

The sentence of Mérida says: “The tone and the phrases violate the right to the honor of the plaintiff from an objective point of view”. And he adds that the critical user of TripAdvisor “are not covered by the right to freedom of expression”. Luis Ruiz-Rivas, a lawyer specializing in law of information and entertainment of the firm Dikei, ensures that in these cases it is necessary to assess whether the content of the comments is detrimental to the honour, if issued libellous or gives false information. In the sentences already passed “the tendency is to affirm the responsibility of the platform provider of the service where the content is illegal or violates the rights of third parties, except if he proves that he acted with diligence,” he adds.

“To answer not only the author of the comment but also the platform, governed by the Law of Services of the Information Society 2002”, explains. Ruiz-Rivas distinguishes between expression and information. In the first case, “would come into collision the freedom of expression of the one who issued the comment in front of the firing line or prejudiced and that you have to see is if it is a legitimate criticism, or if you are disqualifications or insults”. In that case, any service provider would have to withdraw the comment, he adds. The case of the information (make statements about a service) is more complicated. If the establishment referred to understand that is not true, for the platform it can be difficult to investigate the truth. “The law is that to comply with a duty of diligence and that is a function of the particular case”, he adds.

Updated Date: 26 December 2019, 03:00

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