With summer officially underway, consumers may be dreaming about vacations or weekend getaways. Travelers should do their homework and book smart when it comes to flights and accommodations.
Nationally, Better Business Bureau (BBB) processed more than 5,000 complaints about travel agencies and services in 2018. Many consumers report in these complaints that they were misled by travel offers that failed to deliver as promised; others report paying for travel arrangements that were never made.
BBB advises consumers to be wary of travel deals that seem too good to be true. Many online sites offer bargains on travel. Some are legitimate, while others may be scams. Also, verify the reputation of sites when booking travel by going to bbb.org.
It is also important to check a site’s reservation policies and other fine print before booking deals. Package deals may be touted as all-inclusive, but be sure you understand exactly what is included.
Be particularly wary of rental scams. Vacation rental scammers may create online listings with photos of homes that aren’t available or are owned by someone else. Phony landlords collect an advance deposit, then avoid contact with renters, who may be left with nothing but a fake reservation or a rental that doesn’t resemble the photos in the online listing. If you have difficulty communicating with the landlord or are asked to pay in advance by wire transfer or a prepaid money card, those are red flags that you may be dealing with a scam.
Here are some BBB tips to avoid disappointment with travel deals:
Book through a reliable travel agent, travel site, or directly with the hotel or carrier (airline, train or bus company, etc.). Check out a travel company’s BBB Business Profile by calling 573-803-3190 or visiting bbb.org. You can also find a BBB Accredited Business at bbb.org; these businesses must uphold BBB’s Standards for Trust, including transparency, advertising honestly and honoring promises.
Confirm details about your trip in writing, such as total cost, any restrictions, flights, hotel reservations and car rental. Also, check penalties for cancellations.
Pay with a credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the payment.
Consider purchasing travel insurance, which provides coverage for particular perils. Travel insurance will pay claims under specific conditions, so be sure to shop around and read the terms and conditions before purchasing.
If a deal or package offers a lot for a very low price, be wary. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Be wary of claims you “won” a trip, especially unsolicited offers, and check on any offers with BBB. Generally if you’ve truly won something, it will be given to you as a gift. If you are asked to pay a fee in order to claim the trip, that is a sure sign of a scam.