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Spring break getaways call for 'investigation'

Jan. 18, 2001

Officials advise students to be wary of scams

By DENISE GORZELL

Reporter

Now that the holidays are over and classes are in full swing, students are planning for spring break.

Many will use special tour packages, most of which are conducted by legitimate tour operators. Unfortunately, some will come from companies selling nothing but a first-class scam.

Andy Speer, a Huntsville junior, experienced one such scam last spring break. He paid $1,500 for a vacation through Cape Canaveral Cruise Lines that was to include five nights at a hotel near Walt Disney World and a three-night cruise to the Bahamas.

'We had to upgrade to a better hotel. The one they put us in was a real roach motel,' Speer said.

His disappointment continued after he boarded the cruise ship, which he said was much smaller than the ship on the video that Cape Canaveral Cruise Lines had sent to him.

'The cabins were the size of a bathroom, and the pool didn't have any water in it. They only filled it up while we were at the beach.'

Speer also learned that other passengers had paid only $300 for their vacation.

Speer advises others to carefully check out any vacation packages they are interested in and to 'not just jump on the first thing that comes along,' as he did.

'Investigate more before you spend your money,' said C.J. Pederson, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau, serving the Heart of Texas.

He encourages students to find out the physical address of the tour operator and contact the Better Business Bureau to investigate their ethics.

Jim Fudge, a travel agent at Travel Time, stressed using caution when booking vacations over the Internet and promoted the use of travel agents because they 'deal with companies that are real and we know they are real.'