1. This is the Blue Sky Hostel in Glasgow. It’s popular with backpackers and people on boozy weekends and only caters for people aged 18 to 35. Last night it blew up on social media.
2. Why? Because of this review by Louise Taylor, a support worker and charity volunteer from Preston, who was up in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games and spent £100 for two people for one night at Blue Sky.
Louise didn’t have the best time there, and let the business owners know by tagging their Facebook page in her comment. Then, what can only be described as an internet shitstorm took place.
3. Todd Pedersen, the owner of the hostel, was quick to respond, sparking the first exchange between the pair.
Unprovoked, Pedersen referred to the people in Taylor’s room as “you retards”, one of several insulting phrases from him during the evening, then clarified, “Yes I called you a retard,” a few comments later.
4. Nevertheless, onlookers could not get enough of the real-life soap opera.
And they had no time for Pedersen’s aggressive response to Taylor’s complaint.
5. Michael Jackson eating popcorn summed up the feelings of many.
6. Taylor expanded on her complaint, but Pedersen maintained that she didn’t make a complaint at the time. Meanwhile the crowd gathered in the comment thread.
7. There was a debate over what kind of mattresses the hostel has – and a suggestion from Pedersen that his “sunny disposition” was a selling point.
8. Then came a suggestion that Taylor “put a heck of a load” on the bed, in order to bend it, which everyone saw as a way to call her fat. Pedersen later said this was just stating the facts about the beds.
And still, the rubber-necking onlookers piled in to watch the show.
9. And on – and on – it went, with both sides trading blows in probably the most ill-mannered online discussion between a business and customer you will see all year.
10. Many were incredulous at the rudeness of Pedersen’s responses.
11. One person suggested how Pedersen should have responded.
12. At least one commenter asked if this wasn’t part of some kind of situationist art prank.
13. Some commenters were asking the important questions.
14. By this point, Michael Jackson needed even more popcorn.
16. Then Pedersen’s wife, Michelle, stepped in to calm things down. It didn’t quite work.
20. Blue Sky Hostel risked becoming a tourist attraction because of the row.
21. Someone mocked up a helpful guide to customer service, based on Pedersen’s responses.
22. Then came the fake TripAdvisor reviews from people who’d seen the epic Facebook exchange.
23. Michael Jackson was overwhelmed with popcorn by the time it died down.
24. So who is Todd Pedersen? He moved from Canada to Scotland in the 1990s. As the Glasgow Evening Times reported in 2006, he was fined £600 after pleading guilty to punching a man to the ground.
In 2006 he was accused of using his own flat as an overspill for the hostel, with investigators finding 14 bunk beds in a three-bedroom flat. He claimed the people staying there were staff, or backpackers who needed somewhere to stay after boozy nights out.
He told the Evening Times after the investigation, “Blue Sky is an old-school hostel. If you can’t afford to pay for a night then you help to clean or something. I’m not going to turn people away and make them sleep on the street.
“The place is never going to be five-star luxury. We’re charging £8–£10 a head. I’m not here to rip people off. I could be charging much more.”
Speaking about his assault conviction, he said, “It was a mistake. I was staggering down Sauchiehall Street and two junkies grabbed me and tried to rob me. In the end I had no choice but to plead guilty in court.
“It’s not like I’m some bank-robbing criminal who’s running a hostel.”
25. Oh, and this is how he describes his career experience on LinkedIn.
26. What he may or may not be, his customer service style remains entirely unique.
We originally said it was £100 for one night at the hostel – but that price was for two people, making it £50 per person.