While many travelers enjoy using TripAdvisor to browse reviews of hotels and excursions, employees of tourism organizations have reason to fear the popular website and its unverified critiques. In fact, Fred Keeler, a former bartender at the Four Points by Sheraton Philadelphia Northeast hotel for almost 14 years, was fired after being the target of a TripAdvisor review.
“I’ve never heard of anyone being targeted specifically and actually being fired over a TripAdvisor review,” Fred Keeler told NBC News. “I want to prevent this from happening to anyone in the future.”
The post, written by user “Angelo G” and titled “Bad, Bad, Bad… Did I Say Bad!” gave the Sheraton a rating of 1 out of 5 and complained about everything from a “crappy check-in” to shower drains being clogged. What hurt Keeler, however, was a comment the writer made about the “one good thing” about his stay. Angelo G wrote, “The bartender, I think his name was Fred said for $20 tip he would give me open tap all night, he said ‘they count the good stuff.”
Keeler had had an argument with one of his co-workers the night before, and this is who he believes wrote the post. When the bartender was summoned to the human resources department, denied the allegation when shown the review. He was fired five days later.When NBC called Four Points by Sheraton Philadelphia Northeast for follow-up comments they declined to discuss the case, stating it was against company policy to talk about employee matters.
Although TripAdvisor has a team of content integrity specialists who review claims of suspicious content, Keeler’s options were limited. He tried to write a response post, but the site wouldn’t allow it as he wasn’t a hotel guest. When he asked them to take down the original post, his request was denied. It wasn’t until the former employee contacted KwikChex, who used TripAdvisor’s private message system to contact the review author, that the post was removed – in August, five months after it was originally published.
Despite a partial victory, the loss of his job was humiliating and devastating for Keeler, who lost his health insurance and the house he was in the process of buying. He now makes only a fraction of what he was at the hotel.
While the former employee is still hoping to get his job back, he doesn’t believe it will happen.