When is a travel promotion too good to be true?

Summer allows many people the opportunity to get away for a little rest and relaxation. Whether you’re driving, flying or cruising, it’s important to steer clear of bogus travel offers promoting too-good-to-be-true deals.


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According to Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, consumers nationwide reported nearly 2,300 complaints relating to online travel agencies in 2016. Complaints included issues with guarantees, problems with refunds or exchanges and poor customer service.

Phony travel promotions show up in the newspaper, by fax, online and in your mailbox. They offer dream getaways worth thousands of dollars for next to nothing. But, be careful of ads that sound too good to be true. Some travel scams lure you in with claims of lavish getaways, but fall short on their promises.

Bogus promoters:

• Promise luxurious airfare and hotel accommodations, but deliver far less than expected.

• Advertise rock-bottom prices, but hide certain fees until the deal is sealed.

• Take your money without providing the travel or trip promised.

• Don’t reveal the deal includes an obligation to sit through a timeshare pitch at the destination.

• Guarantee a full refund if the trip is canceled, but fail to make good on the promise.

So, how can you help ensure your dream vacation doesn't turn into a nightmare? Check out companies promoting offers, as well as hotels, airlines and cruise ships advertised, with BBB. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. Here are some more tips to help:

• Beware of unbelievable deals and extremely low-priced offers.

• Get all details in writing, including total cost, date and length of stay, airline and hotel accommodations and the refund and cancellation policy.

• Consider purchasing travel insurance. It’s designed to cover such things as trip cancellations or medical emergencies.

• Verify your reservations directly with the airline, cruise line and hotel prior to your trip.

• Make sure you understand everything before signing anything.

• Reconsider if you’re pressured to make a commitment immediately. A good offer today usually will be a good offer tomorrow. Legitimate businesses don’t expect you to make snap decisions.

• Don’t send cash or check by courier or overnight mail.

• Pay by credit card, if possible. This will give you rights to dispute charges if promised services aren’t rendered.

• Say “no.” If you’re in doubt, it’s less risky to turn down the offer.


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Don’t get burned by a bogus vacation promotion. Make sure you’re dealing with a trustworthy company and know the facts before you commit.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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