Be it purchasing a travel package online or in person at travel fairs, non-delivery of service and misrepresentation of the travel product are common issues faced by holidaymakers.
Some examples include extreme detours from the itinerary given; travelling hours by coach when a domestic flight was promised; being left wandering on your own when a guide was supposed to be part of the deal; or being forced to purchase at designated shops and to fork out additional payments during a trip.
While retaining documentation can help you dispute with the travel agency and seek help from the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) — or in worse case scenarios file a claim at the Small Claims Tribunal — prevention may be a smarter approach.
Here are some useful tips to remember before signing on the dotted line:
Choose a licensed, accredited travel agency
Case and The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas) have launched a Joint Accreditation Scheme for the travel industry. This reduces the risk of problems, and they should also have clear dispute resolution procedures.
Read and clarify terms and conditions
Besides the itinerary, check the cancellation terms, minimum tour group size as well as additional charges for items such as land tours and meals. Clarify what is covered in the package and enforce verbal agreements in writing before signing up for a package.
The same goes for online deals. Pay special attention to the validity of the voucher, type of accommodation, flight and tours included, booking terms as well as blackout dates for travel.
Buy travel insurance
To ensure immediate coverage, get insured as soon as payment of your travel package has been made. Your insurance should cover changes to travel plans due to unforeseen natural disasters, medical care, lost baggage and insolvency of travel agencies.
Have relevant documents
To ensure a smooth journey through immigration, do your own research on all the essential travel documents you will require rather than rely solely on advice given by travel agencies.
Consider paying by instalments
Especially if the travel date is far in advance, doing so may reduce the risk of forfeiture of monies paid due to unforeseen circumstances.