Astroturf Update: State sues hotel for punishing guests for bad reviews!

22 December 2017 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

The state of Indiana sued a hotel which “maintained a written policy stating if a consumer made any negative statement, including an online comment or review, regarding their stay at Abbey Inn & Suites, the Defendants would charge the consumer an additional $350.00 and pursue legal action against the consumer.”  The case of the State of Indiana v. Abbey Management Inc. was filed for injunctive relief, civil penalties, and costs which was reported in the Washington Post on December 20, 2017 in article entitled “A hotel punished guests for bad reviews with a $350 charge. It’s now being sued by the state” and included these postings from a former customer:

Smelt like sewer,

The air conditioning didn’t work, either.

We started checking the sheets and the bed, I found hairs, dirt.

A month later the customer reported:

…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.

This lawsuit may change the power of online Terms of Service, or at least at hotels who don’t like customer reviews!

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