The Indiana Attorney General's office has filed a lawsuit against the Abbey Inn in Nashville, Indiana, "claiming the hotel's policy of levelling a charge against guests for negative reviews violated the state's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act," reports Southern Living magazine.
Katrina Arthur and her husband stayed in the Abbey Inn hotel in Brown County in March 2016. They said problems started as soon as they arrived. "The room was unkempt, and it looked like it hadn't been cleaned since the last people stayed there," Arthur told Call 6, the investigative arm of a local ABC news affiliate, the Indy Channel. "We checked the sheets and I found hairs and dirt," she said.
She said the hotel had no visible staff they could talk to at the time, and that calling the number on the front desk didn't work. "I actually had to clean the room myself," she said.
When Arthur received an email after her stay asking her to leave a review, she decided to be honest.
"I wanted people to know not to waste their money because I know people save their money for special occasions," Arthur told the Indy Channel.
However, soon after leaving the review, Arthur says she was charged $350 and threatened with legal action, prompting her to delete the review. She has not received the money back.
From Miami Herald story "'Nightmare' hotel reeked of sewage — and charged guests $350 for complaining, lawsuit says":
Attorney Andrew Szakaly, who owns the hotel, wrote a letter to Arthur on April 2, 2016 telling Arthur that her negative review included "false statements" that had caused "irreparable injury" to his business, according to Indiana's attorney general.
If Arthur didn't take down the negative review, Szakaly threatened to file a libel lawsuit against her, according to the attorney general's office.
"That scared me to death," Arthur told WRTV. "So I went ahead and took it down."
But just days later, on April 6, came a $350 charge to Arthur's credit card, according to the attorney general's office. The Inn had charged her for the negative review, in accordance with its guest policy, the attorney general's lawsuit said.
The couple called the state's attorney general to lodge a consumer complaint, which the state has now acted on, according to a copy of the lawsuit.
(Top image: "Junk chair sitting by the entrance of Abbey Inn in Nashville, Indiana" TripAdvisor Traveler photo submitted by NC98057, Jan 2015. Bottom image: "Really/..that is just gross" Traveler photo submitted by NC98057, Jan 2015)