by Robert Hanania
After watching the persuasive television commercial with a former science fiction television star proclaiming just how cheap travel can really be, you might find yourself on the Internet testing the virtual waters. Unfortunately, while originally you might have intended to visit the website that your sci-fi actor was talking about, you soon find yourself getting side tracked into checking out some other site and deals, and before long you would be amazed that travel deals on the ‘Net’ are indeed not only cheap but usually feature some exotic destination that is amazingly desirable!
Even as you celebrate your delving into the world of online travel reservations, there is a little voice in the back of your mind warning you that deals which sound too good to be true usually leave something to be desired, yet instead of pulling back and steering your search to the more well known sites, you continue to dig deeper and deeper and land on a good many sites advocating steals and deals – even though the names of the businesses are unknown to you.
A closer look at Internet travel scams reveals that it is now the eager web surfer that will be at the highest risk of falling for one of the many ruthless campaigns currently being marketed online. A scam site with an impossibly long link (URL) may feature a well known name and logo. Travel deals closely mirror that of the original site with the company’s genuine name and web address. Being somewhat web savvy, you figure that this is the site of an affiliate and even as you are getting ready to go back to the original site, you notice that here the deals are even better than they are at the original merchant site. Dig down a little deeper and you will find the affiliate agent’s assertion that in desperation to make a deal, she or he will comp you part of their commission or offer you the deal at an employee discount. Stay away from these practices.
They are not only unethical within the industry but hardly ever genuine. Furthermore, if the deal is made from a third party, you may have no recourse if problems arise and the affiliate will be long gone!
Conversely, a travel agency with a name you never heard of may be offering deals that are steals. Having numerous confidence inspiring banners on their sites, such as the ones from the Better Business Bureau and others, you may believe that you are safe. Unfortunately, blindly believing this is a mistake since anyone can cut and paste an image from another website, to be inserted on a fake website. Unless you can verify with the BBB that the company is actually a member, there is no reason to assume the logo on their website is genuine. Similarly, reviews, press releases, and testimonials do not have to be genuine. Caution should always be exercised, and the more amazing the deal, the more caution there should be.
The BBB advises this for people looking to resell there timeshare, but seems to apply for many types of businesses (in my view). The Better Business Bureau recommends the following:
* Do not agree to anything over the telephone until you have had a chance to check out the company.
* Ask the person to send you written materials.
* Ask for references, including address and phone number and contact them.
* Ask where the company is located and in what states it does business.
* Ask if the company’s salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify this with the state licensing board.
* Find out if the company charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?
* Be wary of companies charging an advance “appraisal” fee for services. Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only after the timeshare is sold.
* Contact the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), state Attorney General’s office, and local consumer protection agencies in the state where the company is located to find out if complaints have been lodged against the company.
At this point in time the travel industry is the one with the most complaints currently found on the ‘Net.’ A closer look at Internet travel scams reveals that the numbers of fraudulent agents are former members of travel agencies who are going it alone, and are downright scam artists who are currently operating Phony websites and have maligned the good name of the trade in general.
About the Author – Robert is an author on various subjects and the owner and operator of several websites and a true fanatic of learning and sharing ‘how to’ material and info. He is now promoting: http://www.GlobalResortsNetwork.com/skylab/biz Gold Crown is the company that provides the Travel benefits and is in BBB.