I have never been scammed and hate that people out there are ruining the travel industry by ripping people off. Here are some things to look for when booking your trip:
If you have been offered a great bargain on a cruise or resort vacation, but you cannot seem to get all the details unless you pay the company first, you may be dealing with a travel scam.
PAY NOW, TRAVEL LATER ... MAYBE
Typically, scam operators won't give you full and complete information in writing until after you've given them a credit card number, certified check or money order. Once you do get further information, there will be restrictions and conditions which may make it more expensive, or even impossible, to take your trip. Click here to see a mock scam site by the Federal Trade Commission.
While getting a refund is sometimes possible, it's better to avoid paying anything in the first place. While there is the remote chance that you might miss a legitimate deal, chances are you will save yourself time and money in the long run.
To help avoid being a victim of a travel scam, the American Society of Travel Agents provides the following suggestions when evaluating travel offers:
» Be extremely skeptical about postcard and phone solicitations which say you've been selected to receive a fabulous vacation;
» 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;
» If you insist on calling a 900 number in response to a travel solicitation, understand the charges and know the risks;
» Walk away from high pressure sales presentations which don't allow you time to evaluate the offer, or which require that you disclose your income;
» Be suspicious of companies which require that you wait at least 60 days to take your trip.
If you think you've been scammed, contact your local Better Business Bureau, your local or state Consumer Affairs Office, state attorney general's office, or e-mail ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and assistance.
SPORTS TRAVEL PACKAGES
Often you will find advertisements for travel packages to major sporting events, like the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 or the World Series. Many of these offers are legitimate, but there have been instances in the past where consumers have been scammed by unscrupulous vendors who never had tickets to the event.
"Every year, we hear reports of sports fans whose travel plans were ruined by a questionable organization with an offer that sounded too good to be true," said ASTA President and CEO Cheryl Hudak, CTC. "A good travel agent knows which questions to ask and what to look for in a legitimate sports travel package. Many people aren't aware, for instance, that under the U.S. government's 'Truth in Ticketing' rules, a tour operator advertising a Super Bowl travel package that includes a flight and game tickets must have the game tickets in hand or have a written contract for the tickets before they can even advertise."
Before you buy a sports travel package, be sure to carefully read the tour brochure and any other solicitation material and pay by credit card, where possible, so you can be protected under federal fair credit practice laws.
Side note: I recently saw that Travel Travel Carlson Wagonlit is currently promoting a Nascar charter flight to Las Vegas from Feb 28 - March 3, 2008. The package includes airfare, turn one tickets or Earnhardt Terrace tickets along with your choice between the Orleans Hotel, Monte Carlo, or Plaza Hotel.