members of the American Society of Travel Agents are concerned that
consumers may be losing millions of dollars to phony travel
companies which offer, but fail to deliver, promised fabulous
vacations at low prices. We'd rather have you spend your hard earned
money on a vacation that you will actually take and enjoy, rather
than throwing it away.
If you've been offered a great bargain on a cruise
or resort vacation, but you can't seem to get all the details about
it unless you pay the company, you may be dealing with a travel
scam. 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 make it
more expensive, and even impossible, to take your trip.
While getting a refund is sometimes possible, it's
better to avoid paying anything in the first place. You might miss a
legitimate good deal, but chances are you'll save yourself time and
- Be extremely skeptical about postcard and phone
solicitations which say you've been selected to receive a fabulous
- Never give out your credit card number unless
you initiate the transaction and you are confident about the
company with which you are doing business;
- 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
- 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, 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.
Affairs Department cautions consumers to beware of offers from "card
mills:" companies that sell questionable travel agent credentials.
Consumers may be led to believe that such cards allow them to travel
at free or reduced rates.
Organizations making these offers are known
throughout the travel industry as card mills because they routinely
offer credentials by the thousands in the form of an identification
card that is sold for a significant fee. In turn, these cards would
presumably be accepted by every segment of the travel industry. Many
suppliers of travel, however, do not accept them.
If you come across an offer to purchase a card
that supposedly allows you to receive travel agent benefits or
discounts, e-mail ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department at email@example.com..
Did you get bumped again because the
airline overbooked your flight?
Miffed because you paid more for
your ticket than the guy next to you?
The Department of Transportation Office of the
Inspector General wants to hear what you have to say. You can fill
out online surveys about airline fares and overbooking.
You can also call, write, or e-mail the Aviation
Consumer Protection Division to register your concerns about airline
service with DOT. To record your comments, call 202.366.2220. Send
an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or
Aviation Consumer Protection
Room 4107, C-75
Washington, DC 20590
Want to know the latest figures about airline
on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, or other consumer complaints?
Read the Air Travel Consumer Report at www.dot.gov/airconsumer.