Consumer Alert: Internet Travel Deals
The Better Business Bureau serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and SW Iowa has issued an ALERT warning consumers about Omaha Travel, an Internet travel promotion company claiming to be located in Omaha, Nebraska and offering low price travel packages online.
BBB investigators have determined that the addresses the firm claims to have in Omaha are phony. Consumer complaints received by BBB reveal that Omaha Travels actual delivery of services is highly questionable and refunds requested by consumers have not been paid. The company has failed to respond to BBB’s request to identify its location, and they have refused to explain why they are falsely claiming to be a BBB Accredited Business.
The BBB reported customer complaints and its findings to the company at the email address the company uses in soliciting business by sending faxes to employers presenting attractive travel offers and directing consumers to its web site at omaha-travel.com. In response to the BBB, the company blamed consumers for failing to follow its procedures, offered no refunds, and refused to identify the operators of the business.
The BBB urges consumers to avoid the risk of doing business online when a physical address cannot be verified and to report complaints about Omaha Travel to the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org – where unresolved complaints will be reported to federal law enforcement authorities.
According to BBBs experience with travel offers, some bogus promoters have been known to take consumers’ money, without providing the travel or trip that was promised. Others advertise rock-bottom prices, but hide certain fees until the deal is sealed. Some promise luxurious accommodations and services, but deliver far less while some don’t reveal that the deal includes an obligation to sit through a timeshare pitch at the destination. Finally, there are promoters who guarantee consumers that they can get a full refund if they decide to cancel the trip, but fail to make good on their promise, stated BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty.
If you are tempted to respond to a travel solicitation, the BBB recommends that you look for the following:
1. Heavily discounted offers – If the offer is significantly lower than the regular price of travel and sounds too good to be true it probably is. Be sure to shop around to evaluate prices from several companies.
2. Policy changes – A company that will not accept credit card payments is preventing your best avenue of recourse should the company not fulfill their obligations; forcing you to pay by cash, debit card, check or wire transfer instead virtually eliminates your chances of canceling the transaction or obtaining a refund.
3. “One call, one chance” – On the initial phone call, some high-pressure sales companies will put a deadline on their offer to try and get you to commit on the spot, saying that the offer will expire if you do not buy right away.
4. Hidden costs – Does a bargain travel package include all costs associated with the trip, i.e., ground transportation, lodging, meals, port fees, taxes, peak season price increases, and gratuities?
5. False bookings. Before traveling, confirm all arrangements yourself with the airline, cruise line, and/or hotel. Even though you have paid for the trip in full, its possible that your actual reservations dont exist.
6. Use the BBB – Check with the BBB first at bbb.org before signing a contract or making a payment. A companys Business Review will show their BBB grade, complaint history and contact information.