Travelers Beware: Don't Fall For These Tricks On Your Spring & Summer Trips
The new Travelhoppers "Travel Troubleshooter" today revealed the three top travel scams that consumers should be aware of before embarking on their spring and summer vacations. Having recently joined the unique travel research and inspiration site - Travelhoppers - as ombudsman, travel expert John Frenaye is already busy at work helping travelers.
"People have a tendency to become complacent and think they are too smart to fall for such ruses. Even the most frequent flier can be had. The three largest scams have been around for eons, but they are still prevalent today," says new Travelhoppers "Travel Troubleshooter," John Frenaye, a veteran of the travel industry and acclaimed travel writer.
Here's a look at the top travel scams Frenaye says consumers should keep top-of-mind:
1) District and Lift - By far this is one of the most frequent travel scams of all that plays out in many different ways and is all about sleight of hand or misdirection. The most common culprit is a friendly person or group of people who have mastered the art of distracting tourists while they secretly snag their wallets or belongings. Even a well-seasoned traveler can fall for this trick Frenaye admits, "A few years back, I was using an ATM and a "nice old granny" asked me a question and when I diverted my attention, her accomplice snatched my ATM proceeds." The best advice is to be skeptical of all strangers. When approached by a party you don't know in an unfamiliar destination, be on your guard.
2) Bait and Switch - Hotels and car rental agencies can be some of the leading contenders of this classic scam, which lures travelers into thinking they can receive a next to impossible deal or a bargain basement price only to be told that the deal can no longer be purchased, but that an "upgrade" is available for an additional cost. Should a traveler find themselves in this position, Frenaye's advice is to "stick to your guns and demand a no-cost upgrade or agree to be walked to a competitor." More often than not, when a hotel clerk or car rental agency realizes a consumer is prepared to walk away completely, the deal may miraculously re-appear. The best defense to not fall prey to this vacation spoiling scam is to obtain a confirmation in writing, if possible, so that the consumer can back up their claim.
3) Public Transportation - Public transportation is fertile breeding ground for travel scams. Buses, planes and trains are crowded with strangers and taxis are gone once they have turned the corner. In many destinations, taxis are not regulated so it is important to agree on a price up front. If traveling in an area where taxis are regulated, Frenaye says a traveler should still not let their guard down. When it comes to taxis, it is suggested that travelers do their homework and know if the destination regulates taxis and if so, they should know how to recognize them. He also says, consumers should not shy-down or be afraid to ask how much the fare will be and hold the driver to his word as long as it is reasonable. On public transit, travelers should keep belongings with them. If that is not possible, personal items should be kept in clear sight and closed or locked. Overhead storage can also be a prime target. Frenaye asks, "How many times have you tossed an unlocked suitcase in an overhead bin on an airplane and dozed off?" Thieves will target these bags.
Frenaye adds that while these three classic travel scams tend to be the most prolific year after year, a renewed warning is always in order. It's also important to keep in mind that these are only the top three scams and that consumers are likely to encounter scam artists, new scams, and variation on the old ones everywhere they go.
As the new Travelhoppers "Travel Troubleshooter", Frenaye offers the unique perspective of being able to see travel issues from both sides - as an owner and operator of travel companies and as an experienced traveler - and has the unique ability to mediate and negotiate a fair resolution that leaves the traveler and the travel supplier happy. Frenaye encourages travelers to send him an email if they have a travel problem, complaint or gripe that he may be able to assist them with at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frenaye has been a senior executive in the retail travel industry for over fifteen years and he has held many prominent roles including travel agency owner, member of the ASTA Communications Committee, Board Advisor to iJet Intelligent Risk Systems, an MSNBC.com travel columnist as well as a routinely called travel expert by local and national media including The New York Times, Smart Money and US News & World Report. Over his career, Frenaye has amassed a level-head for solving problems and a sizable "rolodex" for getting the attention of the right person to solve travel woes.
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