A woman said she was charged $350 and threatened with legal action after penning a negative review about her stay at a hotel in Brown County, Indiana, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
Katrina Arthur of Greene County, Indiana on Tuesday said she and her husband stayed at the Abbey Inn & Suites in March 2016.
“I was honest,” she said of the critical online review she wrote after their experience at the hotel.
“I wanted people to know not to waste their money because I know people save their money for special occasions,” Arthur continued.
“I feel like they were punishing me for being truthful and I don’t think that’s fair. I was very angry they had done that.”
Arthur recalled that their accommodations smelled like sewage, adding that the water pressure was lacking and the air conditioner did not work.
“It was a nightmare,” she said. “The room was unkempt, and it looked like the room hadn’t been cleaned since the last people stayed there.”
Arthur’s subsequent review, however, resulted in the hotel charging her $350 and sending her a letter from their attorney threatening legal action.
The Indiana woman then deleted the review, only to encounter similar complaints about Abbey Inn and file a complaint with Indiana’s attorney general.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s (R) office then filed a lawsuit last week against Abbey Management, which owned and operated the hotel while Arthur stayed there.
The lawsuit states that Abbey Inn had a policy in place between September 2015 and November 2016 letting them charge customers $350 for negative reviews.
The case maintains that the hotel violated Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by enforcing a customer review policy that is “unfair, abusive, and deceptive.”
Abbey Inn’s policy about customer reviews was posted on the second page of a seven-page document on its website, according to the suit.
The hotel did not provide guests with a copy of the policy, it said, and it was also not posted in individual rooms or common areas.
The lawsuit added that an email requesting that customers write an online review did not warn them of significant consequences for posting disparaging or negative remarks.