Leaving home to go on vacation, or packing up to make a home somewhere else can be exciting and fun. It can also be tiresome and expensive. If you find a travel company or a mover trying to take advantage of you, don't let tumult turn into turmoil. There are steps you can take.
First file a complaint with our office. We accept complaints against any business who engages in deceptive trade practices. If the company is located in another state, you can also file a complaint with that state's attorney general's office. You may also want to contact the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.
If you have a complaint against a moving company you can file a complaint with either the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). TxDMV accepts complaints against movers that carry goods that stay within the state of Texas. FMCSA conversely takes complaints against movers that cross state lines.
Many timeshare resorts, travel agencies and clubs offer vacation packages and travel specials. Before committing to a promotional offer, ask for it in writing and read the fine print. A typical offer will come unsolicited saying that you have been "selected" to receive a "free vacation" provided you attend a company's sales seminar. Get the offer in writing and check the cancellation and refund policies.
Once you have a written offer, read the fine print. Pay special attention to asterisks or footnotes. These often indicate restrictions such as limitations on the length of your stay or prohibitions on certain days or times of departure. You may also find that you will be responsible for additional charges like transportation fees and taxes.
You should confirm your reservations independently. Promises of "five-star" hotels often result in cramped rooms with bad food and questionable facilities. If you complain, you may get an "upgrade" for a much higher price that you will have to pay.
Request brochures directly from the hotel and ask what features they include with your package. Also ask the vacation promoter whether you can make your own travel arrangements if the designated hotel is booked.
Take care to protect your identity. Do no provide credit card information unless you initiated the call or email. Our office took legal action against an operation that promoted sweepstakes drawings for vacations as a way to obtain consumers' personal information. The perpetrators then sold the participants' information without their permission.
Finally secure your passport early. U.S. citizens must have a valid passport to visit Mexico and Canada.
Most air travel is overseen by the federal government. If you have concerns about flight safety, contact the Federal Aviation Administration. For concerns about air travel service, contact our office and the U.S Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Division.
If you have concerns about a cruise line, contact our office and the Federal Maritime Commission.
If you have concerns about a hotel or motel, you can file a complaint with our office and contact the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association. During times of evacuations and disaster, hotels and motels are subject to the laws that prohibit price-gouging.