The information in this section is courtesy of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Unlike most products, travel services usually have to be paid for before they are
delivered. This creates opportunities for disreputable individuals and companies. Some
travel packages turn out to be very different from what was presented or what the consumer
expected. Some don't materialise at all!
- If you receive an offer by phone or mail for a free or extremely low-priced vacation
trip to a popular destination there are a few things you should look for;
- Does the price seem too good to be true? If so, it probably is.
- Are you pressured to make an immediate decision?
- Are you asked to give your credit card number over the phone?
- Is the carrier simply identified as "a major airline," or does the
representative offer a collection of airlines without being able to say which one you will
Is the representative unable or unwilling to give you a street address for the company?
If you encounter any of these symptoms, proceed cautiously. Ask for written information
to be sent to you; any legitimate travel company will be happy to oblige. If they don't
have a brochure, ask for a day or two to think it over; most bona fide deals that are good
today will still be good two days from now. If they say no to both requests, this probably
isn't the trip for you. Some other advice:
- If you are told that you've won a free vacation, ask if you have to buy something else
in order to get it. Some packages have promoted free air fare, as long as you buy
expensive hotel arrangements. Others include a free hotel stay, but no air fare.
- If you are seriously considering the vacation offer and are confident you have
established the full price you will pay, compare the offer to what you might obtain
elsewhere. Frequently, the appeal of free air fare or free accommodations disguises the
fact that the total price is still higher than that of a regular package tour.
- Get a confirmed departure date, in writing, before you pay anything. Eye sceptically any
promises that an acceptable date will be arranged later. If the package involves standby
or waitlist travel, or a reservation that can only be provided much later, ask if your
payment is refundable if you want to cancel, and don't pay any money you can't afford to
- If the destination is a beach resort, ask the seller how far the hotel is from the
beach. Then ask the hotel.
- Determine the complete cost of the trip in dollars, including all service charges,
taxes, processing fees, etc.
U.S. Department of Transportation. ISBN 0-16-045193-0.
Safeguarding yourself from identity theft