7 Terrible Travel Scams and Ripoffs

Out-and-out scams may be relatively rare, but the travel industry is full of misrepresentations and ripoffs. Over the years, we've often highlighted the worst of them, including several mentioned in our recent ripoff report. Among the worst:

  • Rental car insurance trickery. Our earlier report covered the fact that you might not need extra insurance. But that may not be the end of it. All too often, local agents resort to trickery to get you to buy insurance you really neither want nor need, either by lying to you about your own coverage or tricking you into unwittingly signing or accepting something you didn't intend to sign. Often, they print contracts with "accept" boxes pre-checked "yes." The defense is to know exactly what coverages you have, carefully review all the little boxes -- even if the contract is in a foreign language -- and stick to your guns about refusing.

Our earlier report covered add-on fees for services that should be in the base price and foreign exchange fees on credit cards. We observed one interesting development, however: Not everybody agrees that optional extra fees for services that used to be included in the base price are ripoffs.

Some buy into the argument that separating out the optional extras allows airlines and hotels to keep their base fares/rates lower than if they had to provide all the extras within the base price, even to people who don't use them. We think most of the extra fees are, in fact, ripoffs, if not inherently, at least in the levels of the prices charged. But it's your call.

Ed Perkins is a contributing editor to SmarterTravel and a respected commentator on all aspects of the travel industry, including passenger comfort and rights, travel insurance, the best credit cards for travelers, and car rental fees. SmarterTravel provides expert, unbiased information on timely travel deals, the best value destinations, and money-saving travel tips.

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