Don’t get pumped up about great gas prices until you read the small print

Rick Hudnett recently pulled into a Chevron station near his home in Orlando. He wishes he hadn’t.

Read more “Don’t get pumped up about great gas prices until you read the small print”

Maybe this Groupon deal wasn’t a deal after all

auremar/Shutterstock
auremar/Shutterstock
Groupon is a bargain website that promises daily deals and “unbelievable” customer service. But Stuart Lord says he got neither when he bought a VIP wine package in California’s Sonoma Valley — a deal he later discovered was significantly overpriced.

Here are the specifics: The offer was for two people for two nights at the Sonoma Valley Inn and two “VIP” wine tastings. Total price: $169.

“The advertisement said it was worth $320 — a 47 percent discount,” he remembers.

Only, it wasn’t.
Read more “Maybe this Groupon deal wasn’t a deal after all”

BackBid promises a better hotel deal, but at what price?

A few days before Eric Kimmel flew from Montreal to San Francisco for a recent conference, he checked to see if he could find a better deal on a hotel.
Read more “BackBid promises a better hotel deal, but at what price?”

How to fall into a real travel bargain this year

It’s that time of year again.

Summer’s over, the kids are back in school, the weather is starting to cool off and everyone’s thoughts are turning to vacation.

Well, maybe not everyone, but for some contrarians, a fall getaway is more than a passing thought. They wouldn’t dream of going away any other time.
Read more “How to fall into a real travel bargain this year”

Surprise! Fall bargains will abound — and here’s where to find them

Tired of high hotel rates and airfares this summer? Just wait. Travel prices may be about to go into a tailspin — again.

But doesn’t this happen every year, as fall approaches? No. Not like this.

When I talk to travelers who are making plans this autumn, I hear about dramatic, unexpected bargains. Connect the dots with what I’m hearing from travel companies, who are telling me that some rates will be on par with last year’s record-low prices, and you might reasonably conclude that things are about to get interesting.

And then there’s this: The feeling that the worst is yet to come. Know what I’m talking about? It’s like the pit in your stomach right after the first drop on the rollercoaster, that premonition that you’re about to go freefalling off a precipice. I don’t know why I feel that way, other than the fact that the pundits have been talking about a double-dip recession for the last few weeks.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Airfares, car rental rates, cruise prices and hotel rates should be recovering from their record lows in 2010. And for a while, it looked as if that was happening. But one ash cloud, an oil spill and a wobbly recovery later, room rates are basically on a par with last summer’s record low rates and air fares, which are up slightly now, are already starting to head south for the fall in selected markets.
Read more “Surprise! Fall bargains will abound — and here’s where to find them”