A hotel in Blackpool which levied a £100 fine against a couple who criticised the property on TripAdvisor will refund the money.
The change in attitude of the Broadway hotel followed the intervention of Blackpool Trading Standards, which warned that adding the fine to the credit card of the guests, Tony and Jan Jenkinson, could be illegal. The Jenkinsons paid £36 for a room at the hotel which they described as a "rotten, stinking hovel".
The hotel said it had decided to charge people for negative reviews in order to prevent customers from defaming the business.
In a statement to the BBC, the hotel said: "We exercised this policy with Mr and Mrs Jenkinson as we felt extremely upset by their actions and insulting comments towards our staff.
"We agree there is room for improvement at our establishment and we desperately want to turn things around."
The hotel's policy of "fining" guests for writing derogatory online comments is outlined in its booking document, which said: "Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review."
James Kay, spokesperson for TripAdvisor, said: "While thankfully such instances are very rare, it is completely against the spirit and policies of our site for any business owner to attempt to bully or intimidate reviewers who have had a negative experience.
"Where we find evidence of a business doing so, we will take action to protect the integrity of our site."