Even the most well-prepared travelers can encounter some problems during a trip. Here are some tips to help you get these problems resolved.
During Your Trip
Experience has shown that it's better to try to resolve any problems you face on the spot, if possible. Even if your complaint does not get resolved right away, you will have registered your dissatisfaction should you decide to pursue your complaint after your return.
Here are some other steps to take:
- Check your documents to establish the validity of your complaint.
- If you have a problem, speak up! Immediately bring the matter to the attention of those in charge.
- Keep notes which include the names of the people with whom you speak and the date, time and location of your conversations.
- Keep all receipts should you have to spend additional money to resolve a problem.
- If your baggage is lost or delayed, immediately file a claim with the company responsible to protect your rights. Be sure to obtain and keep a copy of the claim.
After Your Trip
If you still have a complaint after you return home, we suggest that you first review the materials you were given by the travel firm to determine the validity of your claim. Realize that some events, such as bad weather, are beyond the control of any company. If you are satisfied that your complaint has merit, write a letter to the firm that you feel is responsible. Provide adequate detail to substantiate your complaint, as well as the steps you feel should be taken to rectify the problem. Be realistic in your request and send a copy of this letter to your travel agent.
If the problem is with a tour company, hotel or other supplier, you may enlist the aid of your travel agent, who will often pursue the matter for you. In addition, your agent will appreciate being advised of your problem so that your experiences can be considered when other clients inquire about this company. Remember, however, that your travel agent acts as an "agent," selling travel services on behalf of the airlines, cruise lines, car-rental companies, hotels, tour operators and other travel suppliers. He or she will not, in most cases, be the source of these services.
If the problem is with your travel agent, provide your agent a copy of the complaint letter and request the opportunity to discuss the issue. We suggest you limit your initial contact to only those parties directly involved in the matter. Ask for a response, and allow the firm adequate time to investigate your complaint
Pursuing Your Complaint
Sometimes your complaint cannot be satisfied by dealing directly with the firm involved, or perhaps you cannot get a response to your email or letter. You may wish to contact a Better Business Bureau, a government consumer affairs office, or the Consumer Affairs Department of the American Society of Travel Agents. One of the main functions of ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department is the informal mediation of travel-related complaints on behalf of consumers. Before the Department will become involved in a dispute, it first determines that the complaint meets the following criteria:
- Your complaint must be a travel-related dispute against a member of ASTA. We can not process a complaint against a non-member travel firm. You may check a firm's membership status by searching ASTA's Verify a Member directory. If the firm has represented to you that they are an ASTA member, but you could not find the firm listed in our directory, contact ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Your complaint must be less than six months old.
- You must first contact the company complained against directly in writing, allowing the firm an opportunity to resolve the problem.
- Your complaint must be submitted to ASTA in writing and must include supporting documentation.
Once the above criteria have been met, send a summary of the complaint, including documents which support the claim and the names, addresses and complete contact information for all involved parties to:
Or by regular mail to:
Consumer Affairs Department
1101 King Street, Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314
Please note that ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department provides informal mediation for travel-related disputes only. The Department cannot act as a judge, impose penalties, assess fines, or force a company to issue refunds.