Folks my mind is open to the possibility that this will be more fun than skewering Oxpatch insurance whores Scot Spragins and his sidekick Lucky Tucker thus the new pic to illustrate the gay free speech nazis Charles Leary and Vaughn Perret of Trout Point Lodge. You see last night I wrote a post about the very real bankruptcy chances at Trout Point Lodge citing bad reviews from Trip Advisor as proof. I included the fact I spoke with a gentleman from New York that had a very recent bad experience with the girls at Trout Point and sure enough, true to my word today allow me to present Kirk Cheyfitz, CEO of Story Worldwide and newest member of the Slabbed Nation: His blog post on the hostile innkeeper for Story’s Post Advertising blog is simply priceless:
A strange encounter with a somewhat hostile innkeeper in the wilds of Nova Scotia has focused me on the escalating war that more and more businesses are waging against their customers’ free speech rights online.
It all began as my wife Ellen and I tried to check in at Trout Point Lodge in the remote Nova Scotia woods. We had reserved lodging for four nights, but at the front desk we were told we would not be allowed to check in unless we signed a legalistic “Registration Card” that gave up our right to publish (or, perhaps, even talk about) our own opinions or accounts of the place.
As outlandish as it seems, Trout Point’s owners, all Americans from the New Orleans area, bluntly insist that:
“…all publications, writings, etc. via the Internet or in any other form whose subject is the result of a stay or other experience with [Trout Point Lodge] is the exclusive intellectual property of TPL and its owners…” and “prior written permission to publish, post etc. is required….”
In brief conversations with one owner, identified by his staff as Charles Leary, we were repeatedly told, “I have the right to control my own publicity.” This is certainly half true (owners should be able to control their own PR releases and advertising), but no merchant can control what his customers say about him or his enterprise. When we asked Leary if he didn’t have an obligation to warn his customers in advance about his novel policy, he replied sharply, “No. I don’t have to warn anybody.”
This last was delivered through the rolled-down window of a Range Rover he was driving as we were passing him on the inn’s dirt road. He was arriving; we were leaving, having declined to sign his agreement. As we pulled away, he called out, “Well, sue me then!” This was an odd invitation from someone in the hospitality business, but not so strange, perhaps, when you consider that Canadian authorities already are suing him and at least one other partner in Trout Point for allegedly defaulting on a $100,000-plus development loan for another venture. (All this and more is chronicled in the legal affairs blog Slabbed.com.)
Leary’s approach to guests leads one to wonder what he’s doing in the hospitality business. More important, knowing that he and Trout Point’s other owners apparently (claim to) own all rights to the glowing, mostly anonymous, 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor throws serious doubt on the authenticity of the praise being heaped on the place.
TripAdvisor did nothing to dispel my doubts about the usefulness or truthfulness of its service. A call to its CEO, Stephen Kaufer, went unreturned. Efforts by my wife to quote parts of Trout Point’s unusual Registration Card on TripAdvisor were rejected by the site because their policy is to publish only “original content” and, in their view, quoting from a hotel’s documents is not original content. It appears they are unfamiliar with the concept of news or verification. The review was finally posted with the quote from the hotel document removed. You can read it here (“Hire a Lawyer!).
The entire blog post is well worth the read folks and frankly the thought of Leary driving around Nova Scotia in a Range Rover telling customers to fuck off after stiffing a multitude of local investors is literally the stuff that makes for a basher’s dream as it looks more and more as if Aaron Broussard’s market making for the girls business ventures was in reality extortion under the color of law. I’ll leave that for the FBI and others to sort out.
As always stay tuned for more on Trout Point Lodge as the connections between the owners of Trout Point and the disgraced Aaron Broussard come into sharper focus here on Slabbed.