The smarter consumer: The three levels of a scam (and how to avoid all of ’em)

How quickly we are to invoke the “S” word when things don’t go our way.

“S” — as in “scam.”
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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.
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“Your company is being deceptive and making false claims”

When is a deal not a deal? When the “savings” evaporate with a little research.

Catherine Evans booked a hotel through Hotwire and landed at the Ramada Inn – Bossier/Conference Center in Bossier, La., for $54 a night.

“Congratulations,” Hotwire wrote to her in its confirmation. “You saved 45%.”

Not really.
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Too good to be true? 4 times you should just say ‘no’ to a deal

If you found a bargain airfare, you’d book it, right?

But what if you knew the price was a mistake? Would you still do it?

In an era of too-good-to-be-true prices, gimmicky discounts and even an occasional zero fare, travelers have to make that call every day.

Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes not.
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Why 2010 will be the year of the travel deal


If you thought the travel bargains were unbelievable this year, just wait until 2010.

I’m fully aware that this prediction flies in the face of conventional wisdom. I mean, how many travel experts have you seen on TV lately, warning that the deals are going, going, gone?

They’re everywhere. But they’re probably wrong.
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