A woman was billed $350 after giving a hotel a negative review, and that’s not okay
Katrina Arthur and her husband decided to indulge in a weekend getaway in March 2016. Arthur booked a room at Abbey Inn & Suites in Brown County, Indiana. However, the hotel room wasn’t to their liking, and Arthur left a negative online review. She was then billed $350 and threatened with legal action.
The rooms at the Abbey Inn & Suites looked beautiful online, but in reality, Arthur described them as a nightmare when talking to local news station WRTV. She recalled that the room smelled of sewage and that the air conditioning and water pressure weren’t working properly.
"The room was unkempt," Arthur explained, "and it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since the last people stayed there. We checked the sheets and I found hairs and dirt...I actually had to clean the room myself."
She said no one answered at the front desk when she called down to complain about the state of the room, and no one was even sitting there when she physically then went to the desk. So when Arthur received an email asking for feedback via an online review, she expressed her disappointment.
"I was honest," Arthur told WRTV. "I wanted people to know not to waste their money because I know people save their money for special occasions."
After Arthur posted her review, her card was charged $350 and she received a letter from the hotel’s attorney threatening to take legal action against her.
Arthur filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General to get her $350 back. On December 15th, 2017, the Indiana Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Abbey Management. The state claimed that the hotel had violated Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by enforcing a customer review policy that is “unfair, abusive, and deceptive,” WRTV reported.
Said policy, instated at Abbey Inn between September 2015 and November 2016, allowed the hotel to charge $350 to customers who left negative reviews.
This policy was technically posted on Abbey Inn’s website, yet guests were not actively made aware of the policy when staying at the hotel. The Attorney General’s lawsuit is currently still underway.
Customers should never be afraid to leave honest reviews of a company or establishment. If this has happened to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local Attorney General’s office. As Arthur said, “There’s nothing wrong with being truthful.”