Don’t get burned by a ‘hot’ travel deal

ID-100238090Now that spring is here, a lot of folks are thinking about summer vacation plans. Cheap deals can be pretty tempting. How does a one-week stay in a condo in Hawaii with return air fare, only $299.98″ sound?

Unfortunately, a deal that sounds too good to be true, probably is–especially when you find it in an unsolicited fax. Unsolicited faxes are forbidden by the Federal Communications Commission. I think this is a pretty good rule of thumb: A business that markets by violating FCC rules might not be the most trustworthy business.

A consumer in Corpus Christi, Texas recently contacted your BBB and passed along a fax stating “Spring Blowout Sale” and listing a bunch of impossible-sounding vacation deals. The fax has toll-free numbers to call about the offers and to be “taken off the list,” but doesn’t give the name of the company or any other identifying information. When the consumer called and asked for the company’s name and address, they hung up.

I tried calling and someone answered “reservations,” then was put on hold till the line disconnected. I called back and was told the offer was over. It was only a “once-a-year, 24-hour sale.”

Needless to say, they didn’t come across as the kind of people I would feel comfortable giving my money to if I wanted to plan a vacation.

Watchyourbuck has warned about other travel offers that turned out to have hidden catches.

BBB has the following advice for consumers considering travel offers that sound “too good to be true”:

  • Know what you’re getting. Be aware that travel packages might require travel during restricted times and to stay in accommodations whose quality and location may not match photos in advertising. The company may also reserve the right to change accommodations without consulting the consumer.
  • Ask about hidden costs and restrictions. Travel package plans may not cover basic expenses such as transportation, meals, accommodations, and taxes. Reservation and cancellation requirements may also be restrictive. Request information about all accommodations, any costs not covered by the package and reservation and cancellation policies before buying.
  • Look before you leap. Beware of offers that require you to make an immediate decision.
  • Know who you’re dealing with. Deal only with businesses you know and have confidence in, or have checked out with BBB or a recognized travel organization and get the details of your vacation in writing before you send a check or provide credit card number information.
  • Report unsolicited faxes. If you receive an unsolicited fax, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
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