Thai Quarantine Hotel Sues Man For Complaining, Accusing Him Of Defamation

Filed Under: Hotels

Thailand has some pretty wild defamation laws. Last September an American man living in Thailand was arrested and sued for defamation after leaving a negative review of a hotel online. Well, something similar is happening once again, except it involves a quarantine hotel.

Man quarantining in Thailand not happy with accommodations

Thailand requires a 14-day quarantine for those arriving from outside the country. Dunyawit Phadungsaeng landed in Thailand from San Francisco on January 28, 2021, and described his quarantine as the worst 14 days of his life.

The man was staying at Ambassador City Jomtien Hotel, located southeast of the capital in the Chonburi province. It’s worth noting that he chose Thailand’s free quarantine accommodation option, rather than paying to stay at a nicer hotel. So before we get into his complaints (which sound legitimate), there is an element of “you get what you pay for” here.

As the man wrote:

“It was probably the most terrible 14 days of my life…don’t call it quarantine as it’s better called imprisonment. People said that [state quarantine] is okay and habitable. I didn’t expect it to be a fancy five-star hotel, but have you ever been disappointed even when you had no expectations?”

He had some petty complaints, like poor Wi-Fi and an obsolete television, and some more legitimate complaints, like:

  • Fungus in his bed
  • Water leaking from the ceiling
  • A worn-out door
  • An awful smell he couldn’t escape despite changing rooms three times
  • Mosquitos and cockroaches; he even had to pay for bug spray in order to kill them
  • His breaking point was meals that were poorly made and unhygienic, and he even found a cockroach in his meal

He meticulously documented the hotel’s deficiencies on Facebook, posting dozens of pictures.

Hotel now accusing man of defamation

The Ambassador City Jomtien Hotel has stated that it has filed defamation suits against anyone who tried to discredit it by spreading lies about rooms being shabby and unsanitary. The hotel didn’t specifically name the traveler above, but it seems the timing isn’t a coincidence, given that the announcement came a day after the man exposed the hotel.

The hotel’s statement reads as follows, in part:

“Ambassador City Jomtien Hotel wants to notify any related agencies to stop any kind of actions that will defame [the hotel] and violate the law. Or else, we will have to take maximum legal action.”

Thailand has some of the strictest defamation laws in the world, and this is often taken to the extreme. In order for something to be defamation, it needs to not just be unfavorable, but also untrue. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything here that’s untrue, but rather he was just exposing the reality of the accommodations.

Bottom line

A man returning to Thailand was subjected to a 14-day quarantine, and wasn’t happy with the accommodation. In fairness, he chose the free accommodation option, when you can pay for a better experience, so perhaps he should have come in with more modest expectations.

That being said, this does seem like a terrible experience, between the bugs, the smell, and the food quality. Now the hotel is suing him for defamation, which seems completely unreasonable, but also not surprising, given the precedent. It still boggles my mind that hotels think this will end well for them…

  1. He travels during a deadly pandemic that’s raging worldwide, when all public health authorities urge people to NOT travel. Check.

    He goes to a developing nation. A hot, humid, tropical place where things like bugs and fungus are common nuisances. It’s not like he has no knowledge of Thailand, so none of these facts should be a shock to him. Check.

    Stays for free. Check.

    This guy got what he deserved. He’s lucky that he hasn’t (yet) caught the virus.

    The pandemic continues to rage because idiots refuse to take it seriously. Here’s a perfect example.

  2. @Dick Bupkiss Man, you must think you’re the smartest person in the world. Hurr durr “hErE’s tHe pErFeCt eXaMpLe.” You have no idea why this dude traveled, maybe it isn’t for essential reasons, but maybe it is. Judging from his name and his post in Thai, I’d say he’s Thai, so it’d be more likely that he had a legitimate reason for traveling. Plus, Thailand isn’t doing as badly as the US in terms of COVID.

    Even if it isn’t the best time to travel, this is still unacceptable.

  3. @Dick people travel at times due to necessity for whatever reason and thus there is a scheme such as the ASQ in Thailand (14-days mandatory Alternative State Quarantine). With population of around 77 million people, the kingdom currently has 83 Covid related deaths. Where I live (Orange County, CA) with population of around 3.25 million, we have nearly 3,800 Covid related deaths so far! Where would you rather be?

    @Ann the two Sheratons in Bangkok (SGS & ROS) are some of the best hotels in the Marriott system, especially the SGS. The ROS offers spectacular riverside views and location. Both offer full breakfast at the restaurant as a Platinum amenity – at the ROS is breakfast by the river! But neither is an ASQ property.

    Although all hotels should adhere to a minimum standard of sanitary and health requirements, that traveler got what he paid for. For our ASQ quarantine, we had an awesome stay at Le Meridien Bangkok:

  4. Baffling how the hotel can claim he’s lying. So did the man bring a worn out door and cockroaches from the USA, through security somehow, just to plant it quarantine hotel so he can defame them? If not, then the cockroaches must have been found in the room, since he’s under quarantine and can’t procure them anywhere else.

    Seems like the only ones lying are the hotel.

  5. Please do not confuse Thai defamation laws with U.S. defamation law, where truth is a defense. While truth is a defense under Thai defamation law, it’s application is limited.
    From a Thai legal website: “the accused shall not be allowed to prove the truth of the statement if (1) it concerns personal matters and (2) proving the truth of the matter shall be not be beneficial to the public.”
    While the argument certainly could be made that he would not be barred from proving the truth of his statements under those 2 limitations, who knows how a Thai court would rule.

  6. @ Greg you wrote “You have no idea why this dude traveled, maybe it isn’t for essential reasons, but maybe it is. Judging from his name and his post in Thai, I’d say he’s Thai, so it’d be more likely that he had a legitimate reason for traveling. Plus, Thailand isn’t doing as badly as the US in terms of COVID”

    As you told other don’t know the reason why this guy was travelling to Thailand, but on the other hand you said more likely this guy with a legitimate reason travelling to Thailand because he is a Thai. Really? This is the IQ level you have? You are such a hypocrite, you told people don’t assume but you assumed. Many people travelling back to their own country doesn’t mean they have to but just wanted to see their families instead, I see some people are doing this…..Also, this guy knew that he would be quarantined for 14 days and he had an option to choose pay for better hotels or free, he has the right to displease the condition of the free hotel but why complained if he chose not to pay?

    You even said “Thailand isn’t doing as badly as the US in terms of COVID” Please and please don’t even use the US as world standard, you are making me laugh. We all know how the US are corrupted and messed up for many things, handling covid just one of many examples because of the government and the people their.

  7. Jose, none of us know why he traveled, but your post is rude and unnecessary. I suggest you read both Greg’s post and your own back to yourself once you’ve calmed down.

  8. We have been travelling to Thailand twice a year for 20 years and staying in budget hotels, there are many which do not meet western standards , but as one person said above , ”you get what you pay for ” . In usual circumstances , we either look and preapprove our room before paying , or only pay one night and then rebook for longer …..but with quarantine that is impossible .

  9. @ T …. When you asked me to read Greg’s post may be you should talk to yourself before you are trying to judge me. I suggest you to read Greg’s and your post back to yourself again and again before you even open your mouth again and read it again when you have a cleared mind.

    We knew no one knows why this guy travelled but the first sentence Greg wrote in his post was “you must think you’re the smartest person in the world”, and then went on criticizing people for making an assumption and then he made an assumption afterward. Did you get it?

  10. For God’s sake,please,please stop using these idiotic filler phrases:
    1 Having said that..
    Did you really say that??
    2.To be honest.
    Either stop lying or just be honest without saying having said that..

  11. I don’t know Ambassador Jomtien but assume it’s part of the same group running the Ambassador Bangkok: in Sukhumvit 11, for a brief period in late 70s, early 80s it was one of the smart hotels. Then went into major decline/ cheap group market. These past 2 years it had been undergoing a massive, top-to-bottom renovation. Soi 11 has had some resurgence in the hotel market…at least pre-covid…with the convenience of Nana without the in-your-face stuff of Soi 4.

  12. Clearly it was a smart choice to escape from the mess in the US and fly to his home country where this covid thing has not been hyped up and has been dealt with effectively, with low to no infection rates and just a few deaths.
    The hotel is utterly disgusting for any budget and the guy was right to expose it.

  13. Several unknowns here, and a few knowns:

    1) We dont know why the gentleman traveled.
    2) We dont know implicitly whether or not the gentleman took his complaints up directly with the hotel staff, or if he did, when. If he did, we dont know the hotel’s response at the time.
    3) We do know he chose the free option vice the paid option
    4) We dont know if, after seeing the room in person, he had the chance to either change rooms or change to the paid option
    5) We do know that if the pictures are accurate, the accomodation indicated therein does not appear to meet most western standards.
    6) We do know the gentleman chose to take his argument to social media
    7) We also know the hotel appears to disagree with his post or others like it, to the point of taking legal action.
    8) We dont know if the gentleman has taken his issues up with the Thai government or its agencies, the entity requiring the quarantine.

    So what are our take-aways?

    1) If you travel during a pandemic (whatever the reason), be prepared for quarantine, testing, or whatever else the government of your particular destination may require.
    2) In such a circumstance, if you have the chance to pay for a required quarantine or services such as testing and choose a free option instead, caveat emptor.
    3) If you have a complaint and take it to social media vice other direct options (to the hotel itself, the destination government, police, ombudsman, whatever), do not be surprised if there is some pushback.

  14. Plenty of countries better than Thailand to go to. While the guy took the free option there should certainly be minimum standards. You know a clean room without fungus and roaches? Now they are trying to sue him? Go somewhere else. Not some place that throws you in jail for negative reviews or saying something negative about the king.

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