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Buyer beware....

How to avoid getting scammed by an online travel agency

By now, you've probably heard lots of stories of people who purchased tickets or packages online and didn't get what they thought they were getting. Or spending hours in the run-around phone hell of the online booking engine phone service.

Or, as in the case of Audrey and Brian, an elderly couple from England who got way more than they were expecting. Mr. and Mrs. Kay booked a trip to celebrate their diamond anniversary in Australia through an online travel agency. The tickets were incredibly cheap — around $620 NZD for both tickets.

But when the Kays had to change flight times — and then when their passports were stolen in Sydney, and they had to make another adjustment while waiting for the replacements before they could return home — the online booking agency wound up charging them fees that totaled eight times what their original tickets had cost. These fees totaled over $4,000 NZD, plus the actual cost of the tickets.

This is unfortunately not uncommon with online booking agencies. They are not required to use the same fee structure as airlines use directly. So, for example, the airline that runs to Sydney from where the Kays live would typically charge about $174 NZD for flight changes, not several thousand. But Kays didn't know that, and the online agency didn't return their calls. It wasn't until one of the Kays' children sent the story to a local news outlet that the unscrupulous fees were reduced. But how many other travelers have been hit with onerous hidden fees like these and haven't had someone to go to bat for them?

A reputable travel agent will give you your all-in cost and fees included right up front. If you were wondering, that's us; we're reputable travel agents! There should be zero confusion about how much your trip or package will cost! That's what a good agent does. That's what we do for our clients. Do not, under any circumstances, do business with an online agency that does not provide this information upfront.

A good agent (or agency) is there for you from the moment you call to inquire. We will return your emails, your texts, your phone calls. We will answer your questions thoroughly. We'll be a phone call away if something unexpected happens on your trip and you need assistance for anything, big or small. We can provide you with top-quality travel insurance so that if something happens like happened to the Kays — you have to change flight times, or your passport gets stolen, or you have a medical emergency — you and your investment will be covered with zero hassle.

Your vacation should be a source of delight and excitement for you and your family. It should be the most relaxing thing you've done all year. That's what we, as professional agents are committed to providing for our clients. It's one of many reasons why we do what we do and why we believe that the unique service we offer cannot be replaced.

If you're looking for not only the vacation of your dreams — but also the service, respect, and transparency you deserve — we'd love to chat with you about where you'd like to go! You can contact us today by clicking here.

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