A woman in Indiana was stunned when a hotel she and her partner stayed at charged them extra after she posted a negative review about the place.
Katrina Arthur and her partner were staying at the Abbey Inn & Suites in Brown County — about an hour south of Indianapolis — in March 2016, a stay that the 40-year-old claims "was a nightmare".
After posting a negative review about their bad experience at the hotel, the pair were promptly charged an extra US$350 ($499) and threatened with legal action, according to Fox News.
"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," Arthur said. She added that it reeked of sewage and had weak water pressure and broken air conditioning.
When Arthur tried to find hotel employees, she said she came up short and "had to clean the room myself".
So, when the hotel asked her to review her stay, she made sure her experience was heard.
Arthur said it felt like the hotel was "punishing" her "for being truthful" and she contacted the Indiana Attorney-General's office.
That office filed a lawsuit on December 15 against Abbey Management, which reportedly owned and operated the hotel at the time of Arthur's stay.
The lawsuit reportedly states the Abbey Inn had a policy that allowed them to charge customers the fee for poor reviews. The state of Indiana alleges the policy violated the state's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, which aims to modify "deceptive and unconscionable consumer sales practices".
The lawsuit claimed the policy, reportedly in place from September 2015 until November 2016, read: "Guests agree that if guests find any problems with our accommodations, and fail to provide us the opportunity to address those problems while the guest is with us, and/or refuses our exclusive remedy, but then disparages us in any public manner, we will be entitled to charge their credit card an additional US$350 damage. Should the guest refuse to retract any such public statements legal action may be pursued."
The policy can be found briefly on a document on the hotel's website, but it wasn't provided to guests, or posted anywhere at the inn, according to the lawsuit.
Arthur, who said "there's nothing wrong with being truthful", said she wants her US$350 back.