Ah... the beach... the water... the food... the shopping... the sights.... We all look forward to our vacations with anticipation and the last thing that occurs to us is that we could get caught up in a scam. Sadly, vacation scams have cost consumers billions of dollars and it’s important to be an informed consumer when booking travel.
Many legitimate travel businesses exist, but you should always do your homework and be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a travel consumer.
Here are some tips to consider when making your travel arrangements:
Use a licensed travel agent. Travel agents and wholesalers are required to be licensed in BC. Look for the Consumer Protection decal on their business location or icon on their website. Visit www.travelrightsbc.ca to find a licensed travel agency in your area.
Don’t be fooled by fancy websites, e-mails, flyers or telemarketers. Few legitimate businesses can afford to give away products and services of real value or substantially undercut other companies’ prices. Check out the company with Consumer Protection BC and your local Better Business Bureau.
Get the details. Ask for the details of any vacation package in writing, including refund and cancellation policies and always check the fine print for all the terms and conditions.
Keep the documentation. Request a copy of your travel services contract and keep all receipts.
Pay with your credit card. It’s a good idea to pay with a credit card as it may offer you some protection. You can also ask whether your card provides you with any travel insurance.
Most BC consumers aren’t aware of BC’s Travel Assurance Fund. If you booked through a licensed BC travel agent and do not receive the contracted travel services you paid for you may be eligible to receive compensation through the Travel Assurance Fund.
If you want more information about the Travel Assurance Fund, your rights and responsibilities and other great travel information, please visit www.travelrightsbc.ca. This web portal, launched by Consumer Protection BC, provides great resources for both travel consumers and licensed travel agents in British Columbia.
We hope your holiday is everything you want it to be but, remember, if a travel deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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