Monday, February 25, 2008

Can you trust your travel company?

How reliable is your travel company? And how can you tell?

I've been revisiting the issue of travel scams again after being contacted by a traveller who has concerns about a trip she booked with a company over the phone. Everything seemed legit when when the trip was booked, but later research online revealed problems with the company. The issue becomes who can you trust for advice, and what can you do if you are a victim?

Previous articles I have researched and written mainly focussed on travel scams you might encounter while you are traveling (such as counterfeit police and con artist scams) or general tips for avoiding travel scams. With vacation and time share scams on the rise, I'm now taking a different tactic and looking at ways to identify and avoid scams before a trip is booked. Yes, the topic has been covered before, but the statistics I've seen suggest that people still aren't getting the message.

One really valuable resource I have come across for Canadian and U.S. companies is the Better Business Bureau (commonly known as the BBB). The BBB website offers visitors the ability to look up a company and read an online report about its record. Does the company comply to BBB standards (i.e. have accreditation)? Does the company have a satisfactory standing with the BBB? How many customers have complained? What were their complaints regarding? Were the complaints resolved?

Visitors can look up the travel service providers, hotels, etc. and learn information that might be crucial to choosing reliable services. Also, if you are the victim of a scam (or think you might be), contact the BBB. You can file a complaint with them and they will assist in resolving the problem.

I'm hoping that further research will uncover comparable services in other countries (suggestions are welcome!). I think the BBB website is a useful tool for doing a little research before you book.

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