Press-Republican

FYI...

May 20, 2014

Rules for avoiding those travel road bumps

(Continued)

Fortunately, Arreglado reads this column and knew how to fight back. She disputed the claim in writing and copied her state attorney general on the correspondence. "Within an hour of sending my email, I got the case dropped," she says.

Listen up, campers: Take pictures of your cars before and after your rental. Some customers allege that car rental companies have built a profitable business around charging you big bucks for small damage, and the only way to avoid a repair bill is to show an "after" image of your undented car. That, and maybe having the email address of your attorney general.

Actually, the takeaway from Arreglado's story applies to more than rental cars. Sometimes, a brief, polite email to any travel company will get the resolution you want - if you copy the right people.

4. Assume nothing about your hotel

No segment of the travel industry - except perhaps the airlines - profits more from our collective ignorance than hotels. They would like you to think that they're the only lodging option in town, but they're not. Today's accommodations cover the spectrum, from glamping to vacation rentals. Don't lock yourself into a traditional hotel or resort, at least not without first shopping around. You might be able to find a bargain on Airbnb.com with a better location and fewer hassles.

Travelers make other assumptions about their accommodations that aren't necessarily true, too. For example, you'd imagine that the room rate you're quoted is the room rate you'll actually pay, maybe not including sales taxes.

But when Tom Alderman recently tried to book a room at his favorite casino hotel in Las Vegas, he was broadsided by a mandatory $14-per-night "resort" fee, which supposedly covered in-room wireless Internet access, use of the fitness center and "printing of boarding passes." He was particularly outraged because the resort had repeatedly promised on its website to "never" charge a resort fee, like other Vegas resorts. "I'll never stay there again," says Alderman, a retired documentary filmmaker.

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