Is that Trip Really Free? Vacation Claims & Offers
It sounds too good to be
true. You open up the
mailbox to find that you’ve
won a free trip to an exotic
location. Could it be true?
Maybe, but probably not.
It may be hard to turn down a beach
vacation in January but before accepting a
free or extremely low cost trip, there are a
few things to consider:
- Why is the person or organization really
offering me a free trip?
- Do I have to provide my credit card
number or other personal information
over the phone?
- Is the carrier merely identified as “a
major airline,” without identifying
which one I will be using?
- Do I have to wait at least two months
to take the trip? You only have 60 days
to dispute a credit card charge.
Travel scams consistently rank near the top
of the Federal Trade Commission’s list of
Get the Details
- Are you required to purchase anything
to get the free or discounted trip?
Sometimes part of the trip is free but
another part is very expensive.
Compare the cost of items like a rental
car and hotel accommodations to see if
the offer really saves you money.
- What is the complete and total cost of
the trip? Include all service charges,
taxes, processing fees, and any other
- When is the departure date? Obtain
written confirmation from the carrier
before accepting the offer or paying
- What are the cancellation and refund
policies? Be sure to obtain written
copies of these policies.
- Can you call the company back before
making a final decision and before
giving any credit card information? Be
especially wary if the answer is no.
- Is this a limited time offers? Subtle
tricks like this can pressure consumers
into hasty and regrettable purchases.
All offers of free or discounted gifts and
prizes warrant similar scrutiny. Tennessee
law requires that, among other things, the
entity making the offer must clearly and
conspicuously state its name and street
address, disclose the approximate (and
verifiable) retail price of the gift, and give
an approximate total of all costs, fees, or
other monetary obligations which must be
satisfied if the consumer accepts the offer.
Do Your Research
Check with the Division of Consumer Affairs
and with the consumer protection agency
where the company is located to find out
whether they have received complaints
about the business or person making the
Please note though that the absence of
complaints does not necessarily mean the
promotion is legitimate. The company
could be new. Unscrupulous promoters
may also settle complaints, change their
names, or move to avoid detection.
If you believe you have been the victim of a
deceptive practice relating to travel or
other areas, file a complaint with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs.