Have you had a nightmarish experience dealing with a travel company that went unresolved? You're not alone. According to an annual report from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which summarizes consumer complaints against travel agencies, travel clubs and discount travel services, unhappy customers had only a 42 percent chance of getting satisfaction. Worse, they had a 20 percent chance of not even getting a reply from the offending party within 30 days.
While the findings are bleak, some say they're not surprising. "Every industry has its problems," says Steve Bernas of the Chicago and Northern Illinois BBB. "The travel industry still has some bad apples. It's no different than what we've seen in the past."
Consumer complaints don't always land on deaf ears, though--far from it. In some cases, a history of complaints results in severe action against a travel company. Bernas points to a series of lawsuits against four travel-related businesses in the Chicago area last year. Consumers sued for refunds on trips companies didn't make good on.
Should you have a problem with a travel company, the BBB recommends you first contact the company and attempt to resolve the conflict yourself. If that's unsuccessful, send the company a letter stating your complaint, the parties involved and what you want done. Be sure to include your method of payment (such as copies of receipts or canceled checks). If your letter fails to elicit any action, call the BBB nearest the company. It can contact the company on your behalf, offer arbitration or refer you to other sources of assistance.
On the flip side, should you have a highly satisfying experience with a travel-related company, don't keep it to yourself, says Bernas. The BBB keeps letters on file that praise companies as well.