While many online travel agencies and booking websites are legitimate, there are some that are not. When dealing with these travel websites you can run into scams of omission, where certain fees are not obvious and you’re suddenly facing unanticipated costs. Here are some tips to avoid these issues and to confirm you are dealing with a legitimate business.
Ensure you are dealing with a licensed travel agency.
If you live in BC and you’re booking travel online, booking with a licensed travel agency ensures that the business is following the laws set out in Travel Industry Regulation. BC licensed travel agencies are required to clearly disclose any costs or outstanding balances when they receive a payment from you. Additionally, the Travel Assurance Fund (TAF), a possible source of compensation if you don’t get the travel services you paid for, is only available if you booked with a licensed travel agent or wholesaler. To confirm that your online travel agency is licensed, do a licensee search on our website.
Do your research.
Make sure you do your due diligence. Some websites posing as travel agencies may not be as forthright with their booking fees and travel costs compared to a licensed travel agency. You may want to see if there are any reviews of the business available online or see if the business is accredited with the Better Business Bureau. Keep in mind that when you book with an unlicensed travel website, you will not have any of the protections offered to you by the Travel Assurance Fund.
Read the fine print.
It’s important to make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of your travel plans. When you book with a licensed BC travel agency, there is very specific information that must be provided to you in your receipt. Being aware of this information means that you know what to expect when something goes wrong and you know who to contact if you have a problem (us).
Consumer Protection BC licenses and regulates travel agents and wholesalers in the province. If you are booking travel, always do business with a licensed travel agent and always get a receipt. If you have any questions about a BC licensed travel agency, do not hesitate to visit the travel section of our website or give us a call: 1.888.564.9963.
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
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6 thoughts on “3 tips to avoid problems when booking travel online”
If you purchase a trip online through a website like Expedia, are you still covered under the Travel Assurance Fund?
Hi Stacy, thanks for reaching out to us here. Companies like Expedia and Flighthub are online booking sites, they are not considered licensed travel agencies so trips booked through them are not covered by the Travel Assurance Fund. To confirm the licensing status of a BC travel agent, you can visit this page on our website: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/check-a-licence-search/. I hope this is helpful and best of luck!
I got an email from you asking if my bank wrote off the charge to Sinorama for two tickets on China trip.
You asked for a reply but gave no information on how to reply. So I am replying through this comment.
Hope you get it.
Hi Tom, thanks for your comment. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call 1.888.564.9963 to let us know whether or not you received a refund. Thanks!
Due to COVID my trip can’t happen this year.
The travel agency license is expiring this year in November. Is it possible that the voucher I get from them for 2021 will never be granted?
What if they choose not to extend their license?
Hi Tanya, thanks for contacting us. It’s really hard to speculate what’s going to happen with COVID-19 or the travel agency you booked your trip with, but if you would like a refund instead of a voucher, you are within your rights to ask for a refund. We have more information about travel vouchers on our website and you can access it by clicking here. If you have further questions after reviewing the page, please feel free to give us a call – 1.888.564.9963. We answer phones Mon-Fri, 8:30-4:30.