Since its beginning, Yelp has been a powerful tool for democratizing businesses—all establishments, no matter how much purchased ad space or how celebrated the head chef, are subject to the whims of discerning whiners capable of decimating a perfect five-star review by recalling a single foul-tempered clerk or imperfect tater tot.

Owners, of course, have found ways of fighting back, artificially inflating reviews or filing defamation lawsuits. But sometimes, the issue is not that your service is poor or that the bathroom has been consumed by black mold—it's that not everyone gets it.

The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York, understands that you, the newlywed, appreciate its rustic charms—otherwise, you never would have booked your wedding there. But your family—no, your husband's family, bless their hearts—they're all a bit touched, aren't they? The way Aunt May wears that eye patch and holds court with the topiaries? We don't expect her to possess the sophistication necessary to appreciate the tastefully arrayed teapots or the vintage map collection. She wouldn't know a rare first edition volume if it bit her in the stretch chinos, would she? That is why it is your responsibility to keep her the hell away from Internet.

From the Union Street Guest House website, emphasis ours:

Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not. This is due to the fact that your guests may not understand what we offer - therefore we expect you to explain that to them. USGH & Hudson are historic. The buildings here are old (but restored). Our bathrooms and kitchens are designed to look old in an artistic "vintage" way. Our furniture is mostly hip, period furniture that you would see in many design magazines. (although comfortable and functional - obviously all beds are brand new) If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel they may not like it here.

This is very shrill indeed, but it's downright stolid compared to the overt threats that have since been removed. But like so many ill-considered butt selfies, it has already been preserved forever, courtesy of the Verge.

Therefore: If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there 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.

Naturally, the proprietors of USGH have attempted to pass the whole thing off as a hilarious joke, writing on its Facebook page, and then deleting, the following:


The guest house did not respond to emailed requests for comments, and the phone line seems to have been taken off the hook. It currently has a one-star review on Yelp.