(CBS Local) — A customer at an Indiana hotel is claiming that she was charged $350 and threatened with a lawsuit in retaliation for the negative review that she posted online.
Katrina Arthur and her husband stayed at the Abbey Inn & Suites in March of 2016 and allege the room they stayed in was less than stellar. “It was a nightmare,” Arthur said, via WTVR. “The room was unkempt, 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.”
The unsatisfied customer added that the Abbey did not have any staff available to fix the issues and their calls to management went unanswered.
“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,” she added. “I actually had to clean the room myself.”
After their stay, Arthur posted her review, which she says gave an honest account of the couple’s experience. The hotel quickly responded to the review by slapping the $350 fee on Arthur’s debit card and sending her a letter promising to sue for the comments they claim, “disparages us in any public manner.”
“That scared me to death. I feel like they were punishing me for being truthful and I don’t think that’s fair,” Arthur told reporters. The former guest added that she deleted her review out of fear the hotel would continue to threaten her.
A detailed explanation of the inn’s hard-line stance against bad reviews had been posted on Abbey-Inn.com, but the website was reportedly taken down in November of 2016. Arthur took her complaint to the Indiana Attorney General’s office in hopes of getting back her $350. The state’s top law enforcement office not only filed a lawsuit against the Abbey Inn on Dec. 15, but accuses the business of violating Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.
“It is illegal, unethical for businesses to charge consumers or threaten legal action,” National consumer watchdog Jason Brown said. “Currently only Yelp warns consumers of this practice. Consumers should continue to write truthful reviews.”