Spring is in the air and vacations are just around the corner. But before you book that long-awaited trip, remember to watch for travel scams and tricky marketing ploys.
Some companies offer “free” vacations, flights or other perks to entice you to sign up for a membership or a more expensive trip.
You may be invited to a sales presentation that lasts several hours in exchange for the promise of a free trip or airline tickets. During the presentation, the company may pressure you into paying several thousand dollars to buy a timeshare or to join a travel club.
Before you sign a contract or make a payment for a trip, follow these guidelines:
- Check companies’ reputations. Talk to previous customers and research complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau.
- Read the fine print. Make sure you fully understand a company’s refund policy and know how long you have to cancel the contract. There may not be any right to cancel.
- Get everything in writing. Insist that all verbal promises are put into a written contract; otherwise, they are not guaranteed.
- Pay with credit card, if possible. With a credit card, you have the right to dispute unauthorized charges of more than $50 with your credit provider. In order to dispute the charges, you must send a letter to your credit provider (at the address given for “billing inquiries”) so that it reaches the creditor within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you.
Before traveling abroad, check the U.S. State Department’s website for travel warnings and alerts. Currently, the department is urging caution for tourism in Mexico, where crime is occurring at a high rate and can be violent.
The site also provides travelers with lists of immunizations needed, Visa requirements, and contact information for the embassy or consulate in the traveler’s destination.
File a consumer complaint – Ohio Attorney General’s Office
Travel information from the U.S. State Department
Search consumer tips – Federal Trade Commission
Request a free Consumer Awareness Workshop – Ohio Attorney General
Sign up to receive the Consumer Advocate Newsletter – Ohio Attorney General