The former owner of an Indiana hotel is being sued for charging a woman hundreds of dollars for posting a negative online review that said there was hair and dirt on the sheets in her room and other cleanliness issues. Indiana's attorney general's office contends Andrew Szakaly violated the state's deceptive consumer sales act by charging guests $350 if they posted negative reviews but didn't inform management about problems during their stay at the Abbey Inn & Suites, the AP reports. Indiana's suit, filed Dec. 15, seeks a reimbursement for the guest, Katrina Arthur, and a court order barring the southern Indiana hotel from maintaining and enforcing such a policy, which it calls "unfair, abusive, and deceptive." Arthur says she and her husband stayed for one day in March 2016 at the Nashville hotel; when they arrived, their room was unclean, without a functioning AC, and had other issues.
"It was a nightmare," she told WRTV-TV. Indiana's suit says Arthur hadn't seen the hotel's review policy and had tried to complain about the room's condition while staying at the inn, but no employee was around and her calls to an after-hours telephone number went unanswered; when Arthur checked out, there was no one at the front desk she could complain to, the suit says. After Arthur received an email from the hotel asking her to leave an online review of her stay, she did, and then received a letter from Szakaly demanding she remove the review within one week or face legal action for libel, the state's suit says. A few days later, her credit card was charged $350. Szakaly relinquished ownership of the hotel in January, and the new owner, who says they don't have that review policy, says they've faced "hundreds of trolls" on their review sites and that she's received threatening phone calls.