Consumer fraud by unscrupulous online travel providers is on the rise.
There is not a day going by that you don’t hear of another scam at the expense of the unsuspecting traveler who’s looking for the best deal.
It seems there is an open season on the bargain hunter who, in the name of “savings”, falls prey to scammers selling inferior or non-existent products.
We are witnessing an explosion of such occurrences where consumers motivated by ignorance and greed where ripped-off simply because they disregarding the wise old saying “what looks too good to be true is usually not true”
Here is a typical story; a group of friends recently booked online and prepaid accommodations for a three-bedroom townhouse at the unbelievable rate of €180 a night.
If the venue was in some obscure Central America city I would have said this is not a bad deal, however the accommodations in question happened to be a Georgian townhouse located in Dublin and of all times during the St-Patrick week; that made it too good to be true and of course it was a scam.
Surprise, surprise! When the group of friends got there, they found no such accommodations available. The beautiful Georgian townhouse was a private residence and when tried to contact the online vendor realized the company they dealt with had disappeared into cyberspace. Their vacation ruined and their €1,440 gone.
I have great sympathy for victims of fraud; however one should use common sense when dealing with unknown vendors.
There are no “bargains” and definitely no freebies in travel; you get what you pay for. You need to know that playing travel agent comes with certain risks.
The beautiful fully renovated oceanfront room featured on the vendor’s website may turn out to be a dilapidated room facing the parking lot or even worst may be non-existent. The bargain priced flight you book to an exotic destination may have no return segment attached to it.
There are many reputable online travel agencies (OTA’s) who offer their products and services at competitive prices but there are as many fly-by-night travel providers who will use deceptive means to separate you from your hard earned money.
To be sure, use the services of your friendly local travel professional; it will not cost you more than dealing with a reputable OTA and often less as a knowledgeable travel agent will always outdo a booking engine.
And finally always remember; your local friendly and knowledgeable travel agent is your only insurance against scammers and other shady online vendors and your only guarantee you’ll get what you paid for.