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Hotel owner: 'I'm embarrassed'

By Katia Hetter, CNN
updated 12:06 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A New York inn's policy of imposing a fine for bad online reviews backfired
  • Union Street Guest House's owner has apologized for the policy
  • The owner called it a joke made in bad taste

(CNN) -- A day after a New York guest house was pummeled online for its policy of fining wedding parties for negative online reviews, its owner has apologized.

Hundreds of people took to Yelp.com on Monday to complain about the Union Street Guest House's policy of fining wedding parties $500 for any negative online reviews posted by members of their groups.

Union Street Guest House owner Chris Wagoner admitted the fine was a company policy, but it isn't anymore.

Although it had been removed from the website by Monday afternoon, screen shots show the policy read as follows: "(T)here will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any Internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event."

It was intended as a joke, "never something I told employees to enforce," Wagoner wrote on the hotel's Facebook page. "However, since it was listed on our website it did represent an official policy. I now realize this joke was made in poor taste and not at all funny. This is no longer a policy of Union Street Guest House and we have taken it off of our website."

He cited his inexperience with the Internet and digital communication as one of the reasons he made the mistake.

But a previous guest says the hotel has a history of trying to enforce the policy and ignoring other guest complaints.

Guests who mention the Facebook apology letter will get a 10% discount on stays at the guest house within the next three months, Wagoner wrote.

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