(UNDATED) – The Indiana Attorney General’s Office filed a suit against Abbey Management in 2017, alleging the hotel operator violated Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by deceiving guests by not making patrons aware of a policy.
Greene County resident Katrina Arthur was charged $350 for writing a negative review after she stayed at the Abbey Inn & Suites in March 2016. Arthur wrote the review after the hotel smelled of sewage and the room was “gross” with hair and dirt on the bed sheets, and the bathtub was “filthy.”
At the time of Arthur’s stay, the hotel’s website said if any guest writes a negative public review without giving proper time for employees to fix it, they could charge a guest an extra $350. Arthur claimed she was never told about the policy and wants her money back.
On Thursday, a special judge approved a final agreement in the case in which Abbey Management’s president agreed to refund $350 to Arthur.
In addition, the judge granted a judgment of $5,000 to the Indiana Attorney General for expenses incurred in the investigation and prosecution of the case and a $5,000 judgment for civil penalties in favor of the State of Indiana.
Abbey Management was barred from using any policies that “prohibits a consumer from making non-defamatory negative statements or reviews regarding their stay under the threat of financial penalty.”
“People have the right to truthfully complain about bad service,” Attorney General Hill wrote in a press release. “They certainly should not be afraid they might be penalized for exercising this right. If you believe you have suffered retaliation or been threatened as a result of posting a truthful review, please contact our office, and we will investigate your complaint.”
In Indiana, individuals may file consumer complaints with the Office of the Attorney General by going online to indianaconsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516.