Local Business

Saturday, Mar 16 2013 05:35 AM

Action Line: Diligence can guarantee the vacation of your dreams

BY JOEY FERNANDEZ Contributing columnist

Editor's note: Action Line is a weekly column from the Better Business Bureau answering consumers' questions and concerns about money and business issues.

Dear Action Line:

I recently booked my honeymoon with a local travel agency. I had a horrible experience with one agency after paying my initial down payment. When I requested a refund they were less than cooperative. After a heated discussion, I got my full refund and am now seeking a new company to book with. Do you have any advice what to look for? I don't want to go through that again.

Dear Reader:

I'm sorry to hear you had to deal with that at such a special time in your life. A travel agency can make the process of booking your honeymoon quick and easy, but choosing the wrong agency can turn your dream honeymoon into a nightmare. Your BBB always advises consumers to do their research before booking their next vacation.

In 2012, BBB received more than 7,000 complaints nationally against travel agencies and bureaus. Most of these complaints allege consumers felt misled by travel offers that failed to deliver on promises, or worse -- paid money for travel arrangements that were never made.

To help ensure you don't get caught in a vacation nightmare these tips from your BBB to ensure your trip will be memorable for all the right reasons:

* Use a travel company you trust. Ask your family and friends for recommendations, then visit bbb.org to see the company's BBB Business Review. You can also utilize BBB Member Pages to find a BBB Accredited Business to work with.

* Get all vacation details in writing. Get all the details of your vacation in writing, including travel itineraries and booking confirmations. Get a copy of the company's cancellation and refund policies, and always ask questions.

* Understand providers' policies. Travel websites and individual providers like hotels, transportation companies or tours may have differing policies for refunds or cancellations. Some may cancel your reservation if you arrive too late or fail to confirm your reservation. Some may charge a cancellation fee.

* Verify reservations. Get the contact information for the airline, car rental company and hotel you'll be using. Call to confirm all arrangements.

* Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance is designed to cover such things as trip cancellations or medical emergencies. Before purchasing any type of travelers insurance check your homeowner's or medical insurance policies to see what is already covered.

* Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you additional protections should something go wrong with the travel reservation.

Also, be aware of travel scams. Unsolicited mail, email and faxes offering deeply discounted travel packages could leave you out a honeymoon and money if you're not careful.

-- Joey Fernandez is assistant director of business services for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 1601 H St., Suite 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301 or joey@cencal.bbb.org. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.

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