Q: We are considering a cruise during the winter months; what advice does the BBB have regarding the cruise industry?
A: In winter nothing sounds better than relaxing under a tropical sun. Winter and spring are prime cruising months, but the Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to read all of the fine print before signing up for a special cruise deal.
In 2011, BBB received more than 1,300 complaints against cruise operators. While most cruise deals are legitimate, there are always those sneaky few that end up sucking thousands of dollars from victims. BBB is urging consumers to be cautious of unsolicited mail with offers of free or discounted cruises.
Many times, scammers will send numerous e-mails, postcards, and other mailings trying to get you to call them to claim your "free cruise." Don't be fooled by professional looking websites that make this "free cruise" offer either. Gather as much information as you can about the business, and ask a lot of questions before signing on the dotted line.
BBB and CruiseCritic.com recommend the following tips to consumers who are looking to book a cruise getaway:
If problems arise, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company. Important note: This protection may not apply to those using debit or check cards; it is important to confirm policies with your issuing bank before you charge.
Get answers to your questions each Friday from Jim Winsett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Inc., which serves Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Submit questions to his attention by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN, 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@ timesfreepress.com.