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Indiana hotel hits visitor with $350 charge for negative review

Posted at 2:35 PM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-19 14:35:14-05

GREENE COUNTY, IN (WRTV/CNN) – Katrina Arthur and her husband wanted “some time alone” so they booked a room at the Abbey Inn in Brown County about 60 miles from home.

"It looked really pretty on the website,” she said. But in real life, it was a different story. "It was a nightmare."

Arthur said their room was a mess and smelled like a sewer. Their air conditioner didn’t work properly and the water pressure was bad.

"So, I checked the bed and I found hairs, dirt,” she said. “I wasn't crazy about that either. I was disgusted."

Arthur said she cleaned the room herself. At checkout, she was going to complain, but no one on staff was available.

It wasn’t long before she got an email from the hotel asking for an online review. Katrina didn't hold back.

"I was honest and I wanted people to know not to waste their money, not to go there because I know people save their money for special occasions," Arthur said.

Then came a couple of ugly surprises. A $350 charge from the hotel appeared on her debit card, along with a letter from an attorney threatening legal action

"That scared me to death,” she said. “I went ahead and took it down."

But Arthur soon filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's office, which is suing Abbey management for violating Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.

The lawsuit says between September 2015 and November 2016, Abbey Inn had a policy in place that allowed them to charge customers for negative reviews.

In the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s office alleges the hotel did not provide customers with a copy of the policy.

"They never gave me any paperwork,” Arthur said.

A representative said new ownership took over the hotel in January and wasn’t aware of the lawsuit.

Arthur wants her $350 dollars back and hopes the state's lawsuit sends a message to consumers who post online reviews.

"There's nothing wrong with being truthful," she said

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

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