BROWN COUNTY, Ind. - An Indiana woman is taking a hotel to court saying that she was charged $350 for a negative online review and the hotel claims it has a right to charge customers who give them bad reviews.
Katrina Arthur and her husband stayed at Abbey Inn & Suites in March 2016.
Arthur alleges that when they arrived, the room was not cleaned. She said she found hair and dirt in the sheets. The air conditioner didn’t work and the room smelled like sewage. She also said there was little water pressure, WRTV reported.
“We didn’t see anybody we could talk with, so I decided to call the number that goes to the front desk and it automatically went to a lawyer’s or something weird like that,” Arthur told WRTV.
She told the television station that she cleaned the room herself.
After the stay, she said she received an email asking for an online review.
“I was honest. I wanted people to know not to waste their money because I know people save their money for special occasions,” Arthur told WRTV.
That’s when Arthur said she was charged $350 and received a letter from the hotel’s lawyer that threatened legal action.
She ended up deleting her review.
But then she did some checking and found out that she may not have been alone and filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General to get her $350 back.
The Attorney General filed a lawsuit this month against Abbey Management, the hotel’s owners at the time of Arthur’s stay, WRTV reported.
The lawsuit alleges that for more than a year, Abbey Inn had rules that allowed them to charge customers if they left a negative review. The policy was posted on the hotel’s website, but customers were not given a hard copy of the rule, and it was not posted in hotel common areas or rooms, according to the Attorney General.
The email that solicited reviews also made no mention of the fine, WRTV reported.
The lawsuit also alleges that there were no employees at the hotel to handle issues, but rather a sign instructed lodgers to call an overnight phone number. If there was no emergency and the number was called, the hotel would charge the guest $100.
The current owner did not answer WRTV’S attempts to get a response about the pending lawsuit, but a woman who, along with her husband, have been trying to buy the Abbey Inn since January told WRTV that she was unaware of any litigation against the owners. She told WRTV that they are attempting to improve the hotel.