Maybe you've had your jewelry stolen from your hotel room, been hit with surprise charges at the rental car desk, or paid for a vacation package or tour that doesn't exist. Whatever the travel-related problem, there are a number of consumer laws that protect your interests.
Hotels Have Legal Obligations
A hotel's terms and conditions generally govern your rights when dealing with cancelled reservations, unsanitary rooms, and similar issues. In addition, state law makes hotels legally responsible for your safety and security. For example, if items in your room go missing because the door to your room isn't secure, the hotel is likely responsible for your damages. If you suspect that a housekeeper stole items that you neglected to secure in an in-room safe, the hotel may have no obligation to reimburse you for the loss.
Rental Cars Often Come With Additional Fees
Depending on the state and the rental car company, you may have to pay fees in addition to the advertised car rental rate. These might include extra fees for mandatory insurance coverage, for each mile you drive, for each additional driver, and a number of other surcharges. Rental companies must disclose these charges before you finalize the reservation. If the terms and conditions never mention the fees, you don't have to accept the charges. If the rental company can't prove that you are at fault for any mistake, you have a legal basis for disputing the charges.
Your Legal Rights when Booking Travel Online
A number of popular travel websites are used to book hotels, car rentals, and airline tickets. When you book with these third-party travel agents, it can be difficult getting someone to correct any problems associated with your reservations. Unless the travel website uses deceptive or fraudulent practices, you're stuck with the terms of the company's refund policies.
Using Credit Cards for Vacation Packages May Help
If you pay in advance for a vacation package or tour that has undisclosed hidden charges, that isn't exactly as described, or that's merely a scam, the law is certainly on your side to help you recover what you paid. The hard part, however, is tracking down the person responsible. For this reason, you should consider paying with a credit card instead of cash. If the worst happens, at least you can dispute the charge with your credit card company.
A Consumer Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding consumer protection for travel-related purchases is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a consumer lawyer.