Total up the Real Toll in Travel Offers
January 10th, 2012
What to Look Out For:
Hidden fees: Ever seen an ad boasting round-trip airfare to Mexico for only $99 and jump at the opportunity to get away on a budget? Then you realize (a tad too late) that it will cost plenty more by the time you’ve paid for all the hidden fees. Not a good way to start off a vacation.
Chance to win a “free” trip: Ever sign-up for a chance to win a “free” trip to somewhere luxurious after getting a call from a telemarketer, an e-mail, or a flyer convincing you to join the drawing? If you have and you were “lucky” enough to win the advertised trip, you may have discovered that the trip wasn’t actually free – you had to pay fees left and right – or, perhaps worse, it wasn’t actually luxurious – you had to stay at a shack and eat stale bread for breakfast.
The timeshare snare: Ever get approached by a timeshare rep who promises you a high-value “gift” if you have a meeting with the rep or you go visit the timeshare and get a personal tour? If you’ve ever succumbed to the temptation, you may have learned (the hard way) that you only get the “gift” if you pay a fee, or that cruise package they offered you is no longer available. Pretty sneaky, huh?
Phony photos: Ever search the Internet for an affordable vacation rental or package and find snapshots of a place that looks simply amazing? You contact the advertiser, pay the required deposit, and ship yourself to what you think is going to be a beautiful villa on the beach. When you get there, the place either doesn’t exist or looks like it’s been hit by a tidal wave.
Tips for Vacation Salvation:
- Always, always, always read the fine print.
- Book your vacations through reputable businesses.
- Get the details behind vague promises that you’ll be staying at a “five-star” resort or sailing on a “luxury” cruise ship. When you have the names and contact information of the airlines, car rental companies, and hotels you’ll be using, confirm all arrangements yourself.
- Pay with your credit card. If you don’t get what you paid for, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company.
- Ask lots of questions. For example, what exactly does the price cover and what does it exclude? What is the cancellation and refund policy?
- Get the details of your vacation (including any cancellation and refund policies) in writing.