thanks for the link to check for fake atol “badges” toptraveller. wise advice from both of you, and i think one problem is that when you’ve been searching for the holiday you want and finally think you’ve found it, it can be easy in your excitement to fall for an official-looking site with fake badges and logos.
good luck everyone booking your holidays, and keep passing on good advice and warnings.
i’d love to be able to follow sa-takkies’ advice all the time.
As I said "You should always check to see if the agency concerned is a member of the accredited organisations such as ABTA " so in fairness to Travel Councillors they are ATOL protected, one of the accredited organisations, and as I think the vast majority of their holidays involve a flight the passenger is covered.
I’d add that not all good travel agents are members of ABTA – for example Travel Counsellors aren’t. ABTA does provide a bonding scheme so that if a travel agent goes bust holding your money, then the ABTA bond steps in. However, non-members such as Travel Counsellors offer similar protection using a trust account for holding clients’ funds in a similar way that Solicitors have both an office account and a client account to keep clients’ money separated from the funds they use for running their business.
If your booking includes a flight and you are dealing with a UK travel agent or tour operator then they should have an Air Tour Organiser’s Licence (ATOL). Of course it is very simple to create a fake ATOL badge for your website, but real ones contain a unique reference number which you can check here.
However, you need to bear in mind that if you book accommodation, car hire, a cruise and so on then book the flights separately, you are not covered by ATOL. To be covered you must book a flight plus one other item through an ATOL holder company at the same time. Then all the elements in the package are covered, even if it’s not a total failure. For example, if you book a flight and cruise through an ATOL travel agency, the flight is delayed and you miss your cruise departure, then the agency has to sort it out at their own expense.
Why is it that people don’t heed the advice given on TV programmes by travel companies and Watchdog Assns. You should always check to see if the agency concerned is a member of the accredited organisations such as ABTA. Whilst I have the utmost sympathy for people who lose money it is often their own failure to carry out checks. If a deal is so cheap compared with other companies the low cost alone should ring alarm bells. Two simple precautionary measures. If a company refuse to accept payment by credit card on line, walk away. If they ask for cash or bank transfer, walk away. Always book direct with the travel company or if booking a cruise with one of the well known cruise agencies such as Bolsover or Iglu. You might pay out a few more pounds but at least you will get the holiday.
As a result of media coverage of the scams going on, I wouldn’t feel confident about booking on-line. Full-time travel agents are aware of all the pitfalls, medical requirements, insurances, inoculations needed by various countries, security and other things that we excited travellers may not even think about. We all know it may cost a little more but I would rather go local to our high street travel agent because if anything should go wrong and it is their error, we could discuss a complaint face-to-face with them instead of ending up frustrated and battling on-line. When we travelled to South Africa, we had fabulous service from our local travel agents in Romsey. Unfortunately for us, they have moved on (I think it was a takeover by a larger travel organisation). As for the lucky travellers flitting off on their holidays – happy landings!!!
I saw this – I always book online but generally with Expedia or Booking.com – but I’ll be doubly careful now.