TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Complaints From Readers

Published Date Author: , June 17th, 2010
Email Don & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

Our readers have a lot of thoughts on their own and rightly so. We are not the only ones who complain sometimes. We receive dozens of emails a month from readers who complain or ask if we can help with the travel problems.

Airlines and rental cars rank as the two that most readers complain about. The airlines are almost too big to fight. Flying has always been a hassle and in today’s world, it just keeps getting worse and worse and unfortunately there is almost nothing that a consumer can do about poor service. Sometimes, you just have to grin and bear it.

Auto car rentals is another story. As long as you pay with your credit card, you have at least some recourse. Always take a photo of all four sides of your auto rental BEFORE leaving the agency and then after you return the auto, ALWAYS have the clerk do a walk around with you to see that there are not dings are dents and have them sign that portion of your rental contract saying so.

Is this a hassle? Sure, it is but it might possibly prevent a much larger hassle should you get a bill for several hundreds of dollars down the road. This has happened to dozens of our readers from all of the major auto rental companies.

Hotels, motels and resorts and another major complaint area. When you book an accommodations you expect to pay exactly what it says when you are booking, except of course for the taxes which are added on.

But what happens when you get to your destination and they want to add a resort fee, a phone fee, a safe fee, etc. ALWAYS make a copy of your reservations and present that to the manager and explain that nowhere on the reservation does it say that there is a charge for anything extra! Be polite but firm!

We love what they will then usually say, “Well, this time we will make an exception just for you.” Oh sure!

Unclean room, noisy neighbors and TVs or air-conditions that don’t work are yet another complaint. Simply call the front desk and explain your problem. The problem is in their court.

Some hotel/motel chains now offer a one nights stay if there is a problem. Take them up on that, but be sure that any and all problems are taken care of.

And of course ALWAYS double check you bill when checking out. Whether you are paying $49 for a room or $490 for a room, you still deserve a clean, quiet, comfortable room. Sad to say but now the burden is on the consumer to check everything before staying anywhere. Go to either tripadvisors.com or gaycities.com to get reviews from other guests who have stayed at the place where you are thinking about staying.

A big factor in determining which section of an accommodation where you are staying is the bar or swimming pool area. Both of these areas tend to be quite noisy especially at night with music and a lot of people around the area. If you are in a party mood, this is fine, but if you came to rest and get some sleep then be sure and choose a location away from those areas.

Many of our readers email us about problems they have had at restaurants. We have a solid rule that if there are two problems when we go to a restaurant, then we walk. It’s just that simple. There are dozens and dozens of other restaurants to dine at. And if we do go to the second restaurant, we usually tell the host/manager that we just left another restaurant because of problems and hopefully their restaurant knows how to take better care of their paying customers. Nine times out of ten, we then get wonderful service.

Another topic that we get lots of emails from our readers about are travel scams and complaints According to the National Fraud Information Center, the average loss to fraud in 2008 was $803 per incident – up from $468 two years before. While travel is not at the top of the fraud list (that is reserved for online auctions), it is number two in frequency of complaints. Be sure to steer clear of the folks who are only out to separate you from your travel money.

Don’t be a victim of these 5 top travel scams:

1. Discount travel clubs are usually a very bad idea. If your travel club is asking for more than a few dollars for membership, they are probably scamming you. They will offer a discounted menu of trips (of course it is discounted – they said so didn’t they?), only available to members. For this membership, you get the privilege of booking the trip, probably a substandard product and a newsletter. They get your money plus the commission paid by the travel supplier. It’s a great asset to anyone’s cash flow. Travel clubs should be geared towards social engagement and any dues or membership paid should be reasonable and cover only the true costs.

2. Become a travel agent. This is a scam that is running rampant now. Once you pay a fee to a company, it will issue “credentials” allowing you access to travel agent freebies and discounts and commissions on selling travel. First off, the days of freebies and discounts are done — trust us, they are few and far between. Secondly, in order to sell travel and be recognized by a supplier, you need to be affiliated with either a travel agency or be registered as an independent seller of travel with either the Cruise Lines International Association or the Airlines Reporting Corporation. Believe us, this is a perfect example of the old axiom, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

3. Deceptive Pricing: Know the real price. Know the final price. Look at any major airline ad and you will see their too good to be true fares. The problem is the fine print. The ads are for a one way fare based on round trip purchases. Presto, your cost has doubled. It seems the airlines are more adept at creative pricing than flying their own planes. From frequent flier redemption to unavailable seats, to bogus two-for-one offers, they know all the tricks. But be careful, while the airlines are masters of this scam, they do not have a patent on the practice. Be sure you read all of the fine print before you hand over the credit card or click on the “buy” button.

4. TimeShares: People marketing timeshares are slick. They are not afraid to lie, cheat, or steal to make a sale. Most timeshare offers are made while you are already on vacation and your guard is down, but many are from contest entry forms where you fill out a form while waiting for your Chinese take-out. Very simply, never agree to a meeting or a presentation. Ask that any information be sent to you. Once in a presentation, you have put yourself in physical and fiscal danger. A friend of ours just returned from Mexico where he thought he agreed to extend his stay to try out a timeshare. When he returned, he found that his credit card had been charged $37,000 and he was a proud new owner of a timeshare — Spanish contracts tend to be confusing if you are not fluent in the language.

5. Out of business: If you want to make a donation, do it to a charity for Tsunami Aid and not some corrupt or failing business. Cruise lines, tour operators, airlines, and yes, even travel agencies have all gone under and left the consumer holding the bag.

The best piece of advice is to ALWAYS pay with a credit card. That way you have the paperwork and a good recourse to take if something does go wrong.

We always appreciate readers emailing us with the complaints, praises or any other questions.

Don & ray - Gay TravelersAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

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