Cold weather has you down? Are one who plans far ahead? If you’re already planning your summer vacation, here is a little advice from the good folks at the Consumer Information Center (www.pueblo.gsa.gov) to help you avoid costly travel scams that will surly ruin any vacation holiday:
• If planning every detail of a vacation is not what you want to do, maybe you should turn to a travel agency or tour company. Just be sure to only deal with ones that are well known and have a good standing. Make a habit of asking if they belong to a professional association. Call your local Better Business Bureau chapter to find out whether there have been any complaints filed against the company. You also can go online to look for yourself. Ask friends, family or colleagues for reviews if they’ve used the agency before. Remember to take in consideration the time frame also that the reviews are from.
• Shop around! Rushing into booking a vacation could be a costly mistake. Never book without getting offers from at least two agencies or tour providers. Think of it as being like car shopping—find out how far your buck will stretch before you buy.
• Beware of offers that sound too good to be true. Be leery of “free” trips or ridiculously cheap prices. If you’re offered a “two-for-one” deal, or a “free stay,” be sure to read the fine print. Very few things in life are ever free, especially a dream vacation.
• Get as many details as you can about each travel offer. Never purchase until you fully understand all the terms before agreeing to buy. Ask for specific names of airlines, hotels, restaurants, tour providers, or any other vendor mentioned as part of the package. Also ask whether there’s a cancellation policy and any additional fees.
• Get everything promised in writing. You may even consider trip insurance for additional protection, too.
• When paying, the CIC recommends using a credit card. For one, it is the most practical way to pay. And if the services were misrepresented or never delivered, it’s the easiest way to dispute the charges since it’s all in black and white on your statement.