Avoiding travel website pitfalls
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
CREATED Feb. 5, 2013
Travel websites offer great deals but that comes with some strings attached. Some steps you need to take before you book that next trip.
Ethel Cahill booked a flight from Milwaukee to North Carolina to help out her sick sister. The day before her trip Ethel was admitted to the hospital and missed her flight.
"They said there's no way you can travel on an airplane," Ethel tells us. "The doctor wrote a very nice letter. They said you won't have any problem."
So Ethel called Priceline expecting to pay a change fee. The response from the travel website surprised her.
"Priceline said right away 'No, you are a no show. You didn't call and cancel prior to your departure,' " Ethel said.
So she called Delta the airline she was flying. "They said it's Priceline's problem. That's where you purchased the ticket."
A seasoned traveler, this retired M.P.S. principal decided she was going to find a solution that didn't cost a lot of money.
"I didn't feel that I had to buy a brand new ticket," she said.
Our Call 4 Action office says it's a common complaint. A quick Google search turns up plenty of unhappy customers.
Karen Stiles in our Call 4 Action office has this advice, "when you're booking through these online travel sites you sometimes get what you pay for and you may have absolutely no recourse if something goes wrong."
So how do you protect yourself? Double check all the details of your itinerary, and don't click "purchase" until you've carefully read the terms and conditions. Always pay with a credit card. It gives you the option to dispute the charge. And buy travel insurance. Just in case you get sick and can't make the trip.
Ethel was persistent and ended up reaching out to former Senator Herb Kohl's office.
"They contacted Delta and then Delta emailed me back and said they redeemed the ticket," she said.
Now Ethel always buys travel insurance and no longer books through travel websites, no matter how good the deal.
If you get in a jam with any of the travel websites your best bet is to reach out to a consumer group like Call 4 Action.