I-TEAM: SC travel complaints soar in April, so what do you need to know before booking a trip?
Friday, May 8, 2020
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7
NORTH AUGUSTA, SC. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Parents: put up the pencils and paper, and pull out the sunblock! As it gets closer to summer and stay-at-home orders get lifted, you may want to get out and take a much-needed vacation.
The school year is officially over for some students, summer is right around the corner and just maybe a family vacation -- even if it is more socially distant this year.
We're breaking down what you need to know before booking a trip.
Many of us have canceled trips and vacations to stay at home, and the travel industry is trying to make up for lost revenue by offering tons of great deals and steals.
They are also trying to entice wary families to still consider traveling. We found it's more important than ever to "look before you book."
The sun; the sea; people just want to get around anywhere.
We probably all just want to get out of town, and some are even considering it despite the pandemic.
Bailey Parker gets it.
“I don’t even care if it’s just a day trip. I drive to the beach, I am there for four hours and I drive the two hours home," Parker said. “I don’t even care if I stay there.”
It's a feeling we all understand. After weeks of staying at home, working at home, and, bless it, schooling at home.
But we found consumer complaints about travel have skyrocketed since the pandemic.
In April of last year, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs received only one complaint. April of this year? Forty-five complaints.
“So a lot of it was they made reservations for either beach houses or hotels or whatever it may be, and they were looking for a place to stay and made a reservation in the state of South Carolina or because of COVID-19, they could not travel or not to travel," Parker said. "So they tried to cancel and they couldn’t get their money back.”
“Town canceled all short term rentals.” “Pandemic canceled reservation.” “Wedding plans had to be canceled.” And the list goes on.
But that was April, and it's now May. Beach weather is just around the corner.
"In this day and age, just make sure you are really reading that fine print," Parker said.
An unpredictable virus means travel could be unpredictable too.
“I know in some places like Hotels.com and even places like Airbnb, they will give you an option to click either free cancelation or cancelation flexibility. Just make sure you read through and see, 'okay, when is the last date I can cancel? If I do cancel after the date, will I have to pay for the full price or will pay for a service fee up to a certain period?'” Parker said.
Don’t like the cancelation policy but still want to go? Consider travel insurance.
“Honestly, the only time you are going to have that safety net to get that refund right away is when you pay for that insurance," Parker said.
The extra charge could be worth the extra peace of mind, as we all consider going for a change in scenery.
The Office of Consumer Affairs can often resolve consumer complaints with a business. Give them a call if you need help.