When 22-year-old YouTube lifestyle blogger Elle Darby wrote the White Moose Café and Lodge in Dublin, Ireland asking for a free room on Valentine’s Day in exchange for a video review and social media posts, they not only said no, they also posted Darby’s letter on Facebook (with her name visible) along with a snarky response and a subsequent announcement banning all bloggers from its premises. Since then Darby claims she has been “exposed” and harassed for the ordeal while the hotel has sent her a $6,563,913 bill for all the free exposure they’ve given her.
Darby, a YouTuber with 98,472 subscribers and 91,600 Instagram followers, explained in her video entitled “I was exposed (SO embarrassing)” (below) that vloggers and social media influencers will sometimes receive freebies from different companies in exchange for “free” exposure. It can be a potentially beneficial swap seeing as businesses can’t always afford the costs of other media coverage.
The White Moose Café and Lodge published a screenshot of Elle Darby’s letter along with this message from Paul Stenson, the hotel’s owner:
If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? … Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? … Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?
Lucky for us, we too have a significant social media following. We have 186k followers on our two Facebook pages, an estimated 80k on our Snapchat, 32k on Instagram and a paltry 12k on our Twitter, but Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free.
He advised Darby to pay for hotel rooms in the future, adding that if a hotel found her coverage helpful, mayve they’d grant her a free upgrade to a suite. “This would show more self-respect on your part,” he wrote, “and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you.”
Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),Thank you for your email…
Elle Darby’s response video explaining her version of events (above) called Stenson’s response “malicious and nasty,” said it portrayed her as “a disgusting freeloader” and resulted in thousands of mean comments and, later on, death threats. She also said that she’d gotten the most hate from people over the age of 30 and that she’d intended on working her ass off to earn the complimentary room.
In return, The White Moose Café and Lodge announced its ban of all bloggers from its hotel in response to a torrent of negative reviews it received after Darby’s video.
**ALL BLOGGERS BANNED FROM OUR BUSINESS**Following the backlash received after asking an unidentified blogger to pay…
Their banning of bloggers follows their banning of vegans nearly two years ago. But, not content to leave it alone, the hotel sent Elle Darby an invoice charging her €5,289,000 ($6,563,913) for “the provision of features in 114 articles across 20 countries with a potential reach of 450 million people,” adding, “Mentions in videos will not qualify as payment.”
I’m posting out this invoice today… pic.twitter.com/FYFONTWoOd
— White Moose Cafe (@whitemoosecafe) January 20, 2018
The hotel also released a video of a fake press conference mocking Elle Darby and apologizing “to absolutely nobody” and posing at a lectern with his “beautiful partner, Jason” (a hotel employee standing uncomfortably in a women’s dress).
The hotel also released shirts that read, “I got exposed by White Moose” and “I demanded freebies at the White Moose Cafe and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”
— White Moose Cafe (@whitemoosecafe) January 22, 2018
The hotel has since been accused of cyberbullying by other social media users. Darby released a final video on the matter two days ago saying that the entire incident has filled her with immense anxiety, even driving her to discuss the incident with a mental health counselor.
Stenson has responded via Twitter:
Some of the comments the girl (who I have never once named) is getting on her Insta are horrible. I don’t condone these comments and I think it’s time people laid off her. Insult me all you like, but leave the girl alone. She fucked up. She’s learnt her lesson. The end.
Cyber bullying is a serious allegation. As someone who was bullied in school, I despise bullies. I’ve always said that I don’t condone the unjustified comments the girl is getting, but I don’t agree that the cyber bullying card be used as a tool to generate cash via YouTube views.
At no point throughout this whole debacle have I ever mentioned the girl’s name. Not on Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, PornHub, Grindr or anywhere else. I have never mentioned it to my family, my friends, my dog, the cat across the road who torments my dog, NOBODY.
But if you look at Darby’s original e-mail posted by the hotel on their Facebook page above, anyone who looks closely enough can easily make out her identity.