Costa Rica joined this Friday an international campaign on social networks called “Responsabilízate” (Be Responsible), to prevent fraud in tourist services.
The initiative is a coordinated effort by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), and the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce, the Costa Rican Tourism Institute and the National Chamber of Tourism (Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio, el Instituto Costarricense de Turismo and la Càmara Nacional de Turismo).
“It is a commitment to generate useful preventive information when planning holidays, urging consumers to choose safe sites, certified companies, verify comments from previous users and the conditions of the (tour) packages, to avoid scams and take care that the experience is unique, safe and positive ” said the Minister of Tourism, María Amalia Revelo.
The objective of the campaign, according to Costa Rica authorities, is to prevent, inform and educate consumers about the risks and deceptive or fraudulent practices they face in the tourism services market.
Tourism experts say the majority of the consumption of tourist services is carried out online and it is evident that consumers require better practices and tools for the proper and safe online shopping, and thus avoid fraudulent practices.
Some recommendations include buying on well-known and reputable websites, investigating policies for changing dates and filing complaints, as well as reviewing comments or experiences of other people with the online site.
In addition to verifying that the site has a physical branch, consumers are asked to make sure that the price advertised in the tour package includes taxes, contacts to hotels and other acquired services and including the reservation number of flights.
“We want companies to adopt the best practices, under policies of respect and the defense of the rights and guarantees of their clients, at the same time, we are aware that the education of consumers, too, is key to reducing their vulnerability and protecting them. of cheating or scams,” said the president of the Tourism Chamber, Sary Valverde.
Protect yourself, here are some recommendations, based on our experiences, to avoid being defrauded:
- Beware of deals that are just too good to be real.
- Make sure the website URL is not being re-directed and the payment page is secured, such as “https://”. The ‘s’ denotes the site is secure, your online information is encrypted.
- Don’t give out your credit card over the phone, entered in a non-secure site (see above) or send it by email. Services like Paypal offer your credit card information is kept private, not even the seller has this.
- Verify the site has an office in Costa Rica. When calling an “800” or “888” number ask if the business is located in Costa Rica. Get a local number you can verify and call.
- Ask about cancellation and refund policies, costs for any changes, late arrivals, refunds and anything else that will make you comfortable that you are dealing with a reputable operated. Don’t settle for anything less.
- Review site comments. Be wary of sites that only have positive comments.
- If possible, use a special credit/debit card for online purchases.
- Pay attention for hidden costs such as taxes and service charges. Don’t assume that low price is all-inclusive, it probably isn’t.
- If you are purchasing a tour package that includes hotel before traveling call the hotel or directly to verify your reservation and that the room was paid for. Same goes if there is a car rental involved.
- Also before travel, confirm your flight directly with the airline and your travel class and what is or isn’t included, such as excess bags, meals, seat assignment.
- Verify your package includes ground transportation to and from the hotel and travel between the different destinations.
Use the comments section below or post to our official Facebook page your expereciences or share your recommendations.