Good Travel Advice – Use a travel agent!
December 22, 2010 | By Donna Evans
ASTA Cautions Against Travel Offers That Sound Too Good to be True
With the craziness of the holidays, sometimes it’s easy to forget common sense when it comes to special offers and prizes. ASTA is cautioning consumers to carefully evaluate any travel offer before spending their hard-earned dollars and offers the following suggestions to consumers when evaluating any travel offer:
- Retain a healthy dose of skepticism. Be extremely skeptical about unsolicited e-mail, postcard and phone solicitations saying you’ve been selected to receive a fabulous vacation or anything free. Be especially wary of firms requiring you to wait at least 60 days to take your trip.
- Do your homework. Some offers might sound great on the surface, but be sure to read the fine-print. Certain offers impose so many requirements and restrictions, such as black-out dates and companion fees, that you will either never have the chance to take the trip or you will end up paying more than had you made the arrangements on your own or used an ASTA travel agent
- Run a “background check.” Consumers should vet the companies from which they purchase travel services. They can do this by searching for the company on the Better Business Bureau’s Web site or by checking to see if they are members of ASTA. Other sites to check are http://www.complaintsboard.com/ and http://www.ripoffreport.com/.
- Keep private information private. Never give out your credit card number unless you initiate the transaction and you are confident about the company with which you are doing business.
- Get the facts. You should receive complete details in writing about any trip prior to payment. These details should include the total price; cancellation and change penalties, if any; and specific information about all components of the package.
- Follow up. Once you have the complete details of your trip, contact the hotel and transportation companies on your own to make certain the reservations have been made.
- Know where you stand. If you insist on replying to an e-mail or calling a 900-number in response to a travel solicitation, understand the charges and know the risks.
- Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away. High-pressure sales presentations that don’t allow you time to evaluate the offer, or which require that you disclose your income are red flags to be heeded.
- Protect yourself. Always pay with a credit card if possible. Even legitimate companies can go out of business. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit card customers have the right to refuse paying for charges for services not rendered. Details of the Fair Credit Billing Act can be found at the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site.
Read more tips at TravelSense.org.