American expat facing jail time in Thailand over negative Tripadvisor review

An American has been sued by an island resort in Thailand over a negative Tripadvisor review, authorities said Saturday.

A recent visit to the resort on the island in Trat province landed Wesley Barnes in trouble after he posted an unflattering review online, the Bangkok Post report.

In July 2020, Barnes left a review on TripAdvisor about his visit to The Sea View Resort in which he complained about "unfriendly staff" who did not smile and "act like they don't want anyone there."

The 37-year-old complained specifically about the restaurant manager, who Barnes called "the worst", "extremely rude", and "impolite to guests."

The review has now landed Barnes in hot water with the authorities after the hotel's owner filed a complaint with police.

"The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the Tripadvisor website," Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police said..

He said Barnes was accused of causing "damage to the reputation of the hotel", and of quarrelling with staff over not paying a corkage fee for alcohol brought to the hotel.

Barnes, who works in Thailand, was arrested by immigration police and returned to Koh Chang where he was briefly detained and then freed on bail.

The Sea View Resort said on Saturday that legal action was only taken because Mr Barnes had written multiple reviews on different sites over the past few weeks.

At least one was posted in June on Tripadvisor accusing the hotel of modern day slavery which the site removed after a week for violating its guidelines.

We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future, the hotel said, adding that staff had attempted to contact Barnes before filing the complaint.

Under Thailands tough criminal defamation laws, Mr Barnes could face up to two years in prison if found guilty.