BBB file opened:
December 19, 1999
Business started locally:
Business incorporated: 10/24/1986 in DC
Type of Entity
Ms. Maria Checa, President
Ms. Marybell Montes, Assistant Manager
Mr. Julio Mendez, COO
Principal: Ms. Maria Checa, President
Principal: Ms. Marybell Montes, Assistant Manager
TRAVEL AGENCIES & BUREAUS
Alternate Business Names
A travel package is a prearranged vacation. Usually, these packages are assembled by an independent tour operator and are sold through travel agents. Purchasing a travel package has the advantage of convenience and, in many cases, value. Paying attention to the following can help you choose wisely:
Small Print or Asterisks: Make sure that asterisks or small print are not used as a means of altering the meaning of any advertising statement. Asterisks are commonly used to indicate restrictions -- required length of stay, particular days and/or times of departure or additional charges.
Availability: Make sure that the travel services are currently available at advertised prices. If the travel service at the advertised price is not immediately effective, availability should be stated in the advertisement.
Extra Charges: Any extra charges such as port taxes, service charges or single supplement charges should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
Features: If the brochure/advertisement states, for example, that you can play golf or that you can visit an amusement park nearby, it does not necessarily mean that these attractions will be included in the travel program for the advertised price. Make sure to look for the following:
What features are included in package price? Ask about:
car rental mileage
The total number of nights in each city and hotel, as well as the amount of free time you will have on the tour.
The daily itinerary/schedule of events.
The name of each hotel and the type (grade) of accommodations offered by each.
Is the tour escorted and to what degree?
Conditions: You should pay special attention to the contents of the "conditions" clause, usually found in fine print on the last page of the brochure:
How firm is the price? (i.e. does the tour operator have the right to increase the fare?)
What are the cancellation penalties? What is considered a valid reason for either you or the tour operator to cancel the trip?
What are the conditions under which you can receive a full refund?
Abbreviations: Common abbreviations used in travel ads and brochures include:
AP (American plan) -- hotel rate includes bed, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
CP (continental plan) -- hotel rate includes bed and continental breakfast.
FIT (frequent independent travel) -- a prepaid, custom-designed travel package with many individualized arrangements.
GIT (group inclusive tour) -- a pre-paid tour of specific group size, components and value.
single supp. (single supplement) -- extra charge for a single accommodations tour.
pp. dbl. occ. (per person double occupancy) -- price per person for a room to be shared.
OW (one way) -- one way airfare.
RT (round trip) -- round trip airfare.
dep. (departure date) -- date of departure.
Quick Check List
Before finalizing any vacation or travel plans, you should do the following:
Deal with a business you know or have checked out with the BBB or other reliable groups like those listed on the back of this brochure;
Verify everything before you pay.Be cautious about prepaying for multiple years. Timeshares, campgrounds or travel clubs may offer to sell membership vacation accommodations for five years or more. Take into account your physical and financial health, a company’s solvency, potential rising membership and maintenance fees, and the often poor appreciat ion of such investments;
Watch out for instant travel offers. If a company offers special identification that they say will guarantee discounted travel rates, be wary. No company has control over discounts. Only suppliers of travel such as cruiselines, hotel companies, car rental companies, or airlines can decide to extend such professional courtesies.
Vacation Scam "Red Flags"
Be alert to the following "redflags" that may signal fraudulent vacation promotions:
Salespersons who use high pressured tactics such as:
demanding your credit card number before explaining all the conditions of an offer;
requesting that you identify yourself by your credit card number (a sign of possible misuse of your card);
or refusing to provide all the information about the total cost of a vacation or travel offer.
Post card or fax promotional mailings that require you to pay a fee or to purchase membership in a travel club, in order to claim a vacation or travel prize.
Low rates on air travel that require you to purchase an additional ticket for a companion.
Offers by companies attempting to subvert U.S. postal authorities by requiring a messenger or courier to deliver the travel package to you in exchange for your payment.
How to Protect Yourself
To avoid falling prey to a vacation or travel scam, heed the following advice:
Be wary of “great deals” and low- priced offers.
Be suspicious of companies that require you to wait at least 60 days before taking your trip.
Ask detailed questions.
Get all information in writing before you agree to buy.
Don’t give your credit card number or bank information over the phone unless you have confidence in the company you are dealing with.
Don’t send money by messenger or overnight mail.
Check out a company with the Better Business Bureau before you buy.
Don’t be pressured into buying.
If in doubt, say “NO.”
To learn more about vacation and travel issues, contact the following:
Your Local Better Business Bureau
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF TRAVEL AGENTS at 703.739.8739
THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION at 202.382.4357
NATIONAL TOUR ASSOCIATION at 606.226.4444
U.S. TOUR OPERATORS ASSOCIATION at 212.599.6599
* If you find any of the web sites listed above to be inactive, please contact the respective organization. Also, be aware that the above phone numbers may be subject to change without notice.