If you're planning to go on a vacation soon, think before you check-in and think even harder before you review the hotel.
A couple in Indiana , U.S. were charged $350 after they posted a negative review of the Abbey Inn located amidst southern Indiana woods, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Katrina Arthur and her husband booked a weekend getaway in March last year at the Abbey as they thought it seemed to fit its name, a little forest sanctuary, painted white like a church.
Then they found out what lay beyond the surface.
A deception lawsuit submitted last week by the state of Indiana against the hotel's owner claims that Arthur never got to see a thick policy document that listed certain other peculiarities about the Abbey, the report said.
The power breakers sometimes tripped at night, for example, and no staff members were there to restore the power until morning. There were no phones in the suites.
There sometimes were swarms of lady bugs, and flying roaches liked to gather around the hot tubs. "Please remember you are coming to the woods!" read the page that Arthur said she never saw, according to the report.
The Abbey sits off a state road in Brown County, near the gate to a state forest.
Guests often arrive to find no staff at all, the state wrote in its lawsuit — just a packet waiting for them with the room keys.
As the couple walked into the room, things started to go wrong.
"Smelt like sewer," Arthur wrote in her complaint. The air conditioning didn't work, either. "We started checking the sheets and the bed," she told the ABC affiliate RTV. "I found hairs, dirt."
She went to the desk to complain, according to the lawsuit, but no one was there. Nor did anyone answer when she phoned an after-hours number, the Post reported.
When they woke the next day, they still found the desk deserted. So they put their room key in a drop box and got away from the Brown County woods. Only later, according to the state's lawsuit, did the Abbey contact the couple.
It came as an email, asking Katrina Arthur to leave a review online. As it turns out, what she would term her "nightmare" experience had not been entirely unique.
There were several guests who have had harrowing nights at the Abbey.
The next month, she got a letter from a man named Andrew Szakaly. The state's lawsuit says he described himself as the hotel's attorney, when he was in fact its owner and operator. The letter claimed that Arthur's review was false and had caused "irreparable injury" to the Abbey, and it said that Szakaly would sue for libel unless Arthur took it down, as per the report.
Arthur deleted the review but when she checked her bank statement a few days later, she found that the hotel had charged her an extra $350 anyway.
Arthur then wrote to the attorney general's office asking for help getting her $350 back, the state is now suing.
Claiming that the Abbey's owner deceived Arthur, the state is seeking more than $5,000 in damages from Szakaly and an injunction that would prevent the Abbey from "oppressively one-sided or harsh" rules.
Szakaly told The Washington Post that he's owned the hotel for nearly two decades and had good reason for a policy the state calls harsh.
He called Arthur a "disgruntled guest" who had failed to raise any complaints during her stay, though he did not address her claim that she could find no one to raise them with.