Don’t Get Scammed! How To Spot and Avoid Honeymoon Travel Rip-Offs
To simplify your honeymoon planning, you may depend on a travel agent to reserve your transportation, accommodations, and itinerary. Over the next several months, you’ll remit your deposit and installment payments. All the while, you picture yourself and your sweetheart enjoying majestic scenery, fabulous cuisine, new adventures, and plenty of alone time to spare.
Yet what if you find out that your travel agent pocketed your money, leaving your wallet emptied and with no honeymoon to show for it? That’s exactly what happened to one Alberta couple just weeks before their big day. Fortunately, you can avoid the same thing happening to you by looking for some key warning signs.
Honeymoon Dreams Turned Into Nightmares
A November 2018 CTV News article tells the tragic story of Camrose couple Rhys Herle and Ashley Thengs. The two had planned to marry in Cancun on December 3, relying on travel agent Shez Khan from Beachvows.ca to make their arrangements. After the couple and their destination-wedding guests had paid several thousand dollars to Khan’s agency, they discovered that their airline had only received partial payment. MK Voyages, the third-party vendor in charge of managing other details, claimed that it never received any money. Meanwhile, Khan has slowly reduced contact with the couple, leaving the future of the Herle and Thengs wedding up in the air.
Even so, this isn’t the only type of scam targeting potential travelers. USA Today discusses other common rip-offs in a February 2018 piece, adding that customers often fall for cut-rate prices on airfare, hotels, rental vehicles, and other amenities, only to encounter bait-and-switch tactics or surprise fees.
Avoid the Hustle With These Helpful Tips
As you look forward to your own honeymoon, you’ll need to do your homework and watch out for red flags that could indicate a scam. TripSavvy writer Mark Kahler explains that travel rip-off artists frequently take advantage of bargain-hunting hopefuls as well as the typical industry practice of pre-paying for itineraries and arrangements. Kahler then lists several characteristics of a potentially dishonest deal:
- Demands for payment without a written contract
- Transactions performed by phone or courier only
- Limited-time-only offers
- Vendors not disclosed in writing
- Overuse of terms such as “complimentary” or “free”
Besides these warning signs, Kahler also advises customers to beware of travel sellers operating under different names than the providers whose services they sell. In this scenario, the marketing agent may be more interested in closing a sale than in offering a positive experience or attempting to eliminate liability claims and lawsuits. This is precisely what happened to Rhys Herle and Ashley Thengs, since Khan claimed that she booked their getaway through MK Voyages.
Kahler also cautions readers about pricing that’s significantly below fair market value. Some scammers rely on split pricing to dangle cheap rates as bait but bury additional charges deep inside a travel contract. On the other hand, they may use the advertised specials to hook interested buyers and pressure them into purchasing expensive travel package add-ons. Finally, he recommends that prospective honeymooners steer clear of anyone who offers to certify them as travel agents. These offers usually state that agents can access free trips and perks, but you could wind up forking over money for bogus credentials.
Shop Smart and Find a Trustworthy Travel Agent
Locating a good travel agent involves some thorough research and listening to your gut instincts. Start by shopping for local professionals with glowing reviews and who have memberships in the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies. If you do go it alone in booking your travel, it pays to scrutinize online travel deals and look for fine print, loopholes, and outright scams. Following this advice will ensure you get the honeymoon you want without the headaches.