Economy

Hotel charges couple $350 for bad review

Hotel charges couple $350 for bad review

An Indiana woman is complaining after she said she was billed $350 and threatened with legal action for leaving a bad review at the Abbey Inn & Suites.

Katrina Arthur and her husband, stayed at the Abbey Inn & Suites in Brown County, Indiana, in March 2016. The hotel "looked really pretty on the website", she told WRTV, but it was nothing like it was advertised when they actually got inside.

A representative for the hotel said a new owner took ownership of the hotel in January, and she is not aware of the lawsuit. She then cleaned the room herself. Their air conditioner didn't work properly and the water pressure was bad.

So when the hotel asked her for an online review - she didn't hold back.

The hotel then charged her $350 after she left a negative review and threatened her with legal action, WRTV reported.

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"The beds, the linen and everything looked like it had been used and dirty", said Arthur. "I was very angry they had done that". So, she deleted her review. As it turns out, Arthur was one of many who'd had complaints about the IN inn.

The lawsuit claimed that Abbey Inn & Suites had no right to draw up such a policy because reviews are protected under free speech, something that customers can not be penalized for.

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.

According to the lawsuit, the hotel did not make any attempts to provide guests with a copy of the policy.

As for Arthur, she's out to get her money back, and she's hoping this lawsuit sends a harsh message to any hoteliers who think they can go after customers for their reviews.

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The Indiana attorney general's office says consumers should never fear about telling the truth about companies or businesses.

But the State of IN said this violated Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act because it enforced a customer review policy that was "abusive, unfair, and deceptive".

There are federal protections for consumers posting negative reviews, too.

Based on the protections of IN and federal law, consumers should feel comfortable leaving truthful reviews about their experiences.

Call 6 Investigates also spoke with several national experts who have been outspoken about how Google fails to weed out phony reviews.

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"Reviews have always been an area where free speech has been protected and promoted", said Blumenthal. "This question has always been settled and it is awesome to me that any business in this day and age would think that they could constrain a consumer in such a way".


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