Travel should be all exciting adventures, stunning sunsets, delicious cocktails and rest and relaxation, right? But what happens if it all turns to shit?
Be alert and alarmed dear reader, for travel crimes against humanity do happen, and when they do, it can be very handy to know what to do in the wake of a heinous travel rip-off. First things first – when you do suffer a horror travel rip-off, the worst thing you can do is stay silent and suck it up.
I only know this myself through bitter experience. I’ve packed a lot of travel into my 40 years and while travel will always be a true passion of mine, I have endured some toe-curling incidents that left me wanting to burn my suitcase.
And while I used to think complaining was a waste of time and energy – the advent of social media teaches us that sometimes it pays to loudly voice your opinion about travel rip-offs.
Case in point: unfortunately for me, I recently got ripped-off by an online booking site I’d used many times with previous success, when my “4.5 star luxury hotel”, as advertised, turned out to be anything but!
When I arrived at said hotel, I felt sick to the stomach at the sight of my grotty room, complete with heinous carpet and mattress stains, disgustingly cheap furniture and a barely-working air-con unit. To make matters worse, my promised luxury “pool view” – which I’d even paid extra for – overlooked a run-down, burnt-out house (I’m being generous here) and the hotel manager was surly at best.
I knew in my heart I was in the wrong place, even before I got to my hotel room. For, despite the hotel’s good, central location (arguably its only virtue), when I checked in, I politely asked the hotel manager what the restaurant directly below was like, to which he snapped: “I’ve never eaten there.” Hmmph.
And, like I say, the situation turned dire when I got to my horror hotel room, which was nowhere near worth the money I’d spent on it. It was an absolute dump! At best, more like one-star worthy. I was bitterly disappointed and fairly livid at being fleeced of my hard-earned.
Incidentally, sadly for me, I’d treated myself to a solo getaway in order to catch up on sleep; a rare night off from two toddlers under three, entrusted to my husband. Long story short: I complained to hotel manager – who couldn’t have cared less and refused to offer me another room.
I then voiced my disgust to my online booking service, which refused to take me seriously and/or issue a refund for my blatant travel rip-off until I sent them photos of the horror hotel via email and then finally, out of sheer frustration and rage, complained on social media when I didn’t get a response.
And, even then, I still only got HALF my money back. Oh the burn?!
In the end, I returned home that same night, a broken shell of a human, into the loving arms of my husband, who poured me a big glass of wine, having already put the kids to bed. And I did enjoy some solo beach time that day. Life wasn’t so bad…
So, what do you do when your dream travel escape turns into a nightmare? My travel rip-off fight-back plan is as follows:
- Complain loudly: Voice your outrage, the quicker the better, to whoever has so ruthlessly fleeced you of your hard-earned.
- Be courteous yet direct. Don’t give in easily. Be a warrior woman: stand your ground! Consumers have rights.
- Always, always take photos of dodgy hotel rooms and/or keep any other evidence of your travel rip-off.
- Turn to social media if all else fails – ain’t nobody got time to be stuffed around, and most travel companies, if smart, do not want a PR disaster on their hands. Post often until you get a response.
- Contact Australia’s competition and national consumer law regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Visit ww.accc.gov.au or consumerlaw.gov.au.
Do you have a travel horror story? How did you fight for your rights?
Images via driverlayer.com, pixabay.com