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Understand what you are agreeing to

Know your rights before booking travel online


By —— Bio and Archives--March 5, 2010

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In today’s increasingly tech-savvy world, booking travel online may be a convenient option for some. According to the Travel Industry Council of Ontario however, knowing what your rights and options are before booking is an important and often overlooked step.

Michael Pepper, President of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), says the best way for consumers to protect themselves, whether booking online or at a travel agency, is to deal with an Ontario registered travel agency.

“All travel agencies in Ontario must be registered with TICO by law,” says Pepper. “When you purchase your travel services through an Ontario registered travel agency, you are protected by an industry financed Travel Compensation Fund and the consumer protection provisions found under the Travel Industry Act, 2002.”

“The Internet is a great source of information for consumers who are planning a vacation,” says Pepper. “Before giving out your credit card information however, consumers should make sure the online travel agency is registered with TICO.”

Pepper says that some online companies forward credit card numbers to sites hosted by an airline or another company who may or may not be registered in Ontario. “Only payments made to or through an Ontario registered travel agent will be protected by the Ontario Travel Industry Act,” says Pepper. Consumers may check by looking for an Ontario registration number on the website or by visiting www.tico.ca to use the Travel Agency Search feature, which lists all travel agencies registered with TICO.

Along with proper registration, Pepper suggests that consumers read carefully the terms and conditions before confirming their booking online. “Details relating to cancellation, changes and refunds can vary so the consumer really needs to understand what they are agreeing to.”

Booking travel online also places the onus on the purchaser to ensure they receive the proper documents and notifications afforded under the Travel Industry Act. Pepper also advises that all travel agencies in Ontario are required to provide advice regarding the availability of trip cancellation insurance and out-of-province health insurance and added that consumers should keep paper copies of all correspondence and receipts.

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) is a non-profit organization mandated by the Ontario Government to administer the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 and an industry-financed Compensation Fund. Approximately 2,700 travel retailers and wholesalers in Ontario are registered with TICO.  The Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 provides protection for consumers purchasing travel services in Ontario. Consumers who do not receive the services paid for from an Ontario travel retailer, wholesaler, airline or cruise line due to bankruptcy, insolvency or cessation of business may claim for a reimbursement of the unused travel services from Ontario’s Travel Compensation Fund. For more information, contact TICO at 1-888-451-TICO (8426) or click here for website.



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