Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BBB Warns of World Series Hotel Scams

TucsonCitizen: World Series baseball fever has taken hold in St. Louis and Dallas, and fans from all over the country are scrambling to find places to stay in both cities on game nights. Better Business Bureau has found several ads for hotel packages that raise suspicions of scams. BBB warns fans to beware of offers that don’t sound right.

Several ads for World Series hotel packages on a classified ad site claimed to offer tickets for a Rams-Cowboys game along with the hotel, a tip-off that the person who placed the ad may not be familiar with the teams in the World Series, the Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. Some ads are full of misspellings, which also can be a characteristic of fraudulent ads.

“Sports fans may be anxious to get a hotel room near the ballpark, without weighing the cost or the possibility that the advertised room doesn’t exist,” said Kim States, BBB President.

“Scammers may lure people by advertising low prices – or they may charge a premium by claiming that the hotel is close to the ballpark when it isn’t,” States said. “Others may offer tickets with the hotel room, but you have little or no way of verifying whether the tickets are real.”

BBB of Southern Arizona advises fans to ask lots of questions and be wary of an offer that requires wiring money. When you send money by wire, it is almost impossible to get it back or to trace the recipient, who may be overseas.

The following are some BBB tips for finding housing for the World Series or other special events:

- Read any ads carefully, making sure you understand what is being offered and what the total price will be.

- Ask the seller where he or she is located and how he or she may be contacted after the sale. If the seller is evasive, don’t pursue the offer.

- Ask for the name, address and phone number of the hotel where the room is located, and call the hotel to verify that the room actually exists. Check the hotel’s website or a well-known travel site to be sure that the location is convenient for getting to and from the ballpark.

- Be wary of ads that pile on incentives to make the package look better. Often the items – such as lanyards, T-shirts or other trinkets – have limited value.

- Use a credit card to make your reservation. A credit card company can assist you with obtaining a refund if the offer turns out to be fraudulent or if there are other problems with the accommodation.

- Do your research. A variety of travel guidebooks and online reviews address services and amenities at hotels and motels. Check BBB Business Reviews of hotels by going to www.tucson.bbb.org or by calling (520)888-5353.

- Make sure you get a confirmation number from the business when reserving a room. Also, make sure you know times of check-in and check-out, and clearly understand the type of room you are paying for (smoking or nonsmoking, queen or double beds, regular room or suite, etc.)

- If you have any concern about the quality of a motel or hotel, ask to inspect your room before moving in. You have a better chance to get satisfaction from staff or management if you have not already accepted your room. If you spot a problem, report it to the front desk immediately.

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