Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

ASK JOURNEYS: Travellers often pay the price for hiccups

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SOMETIMES, travel can bring out the worst frustrations when things don't according to plan. That's when travellers search for logical answers that at times just aren't there.

Going back to the supplier often increases the level of anger when client expectations are not met in trying to resolve outstanding issues.

That is the nature of today's inquiries.

QUESTION: We rented a car in Florida and are dismayed by the ripoff I felt the company pulled on us after we returned to Canada.

Travelling throughout the state, there is now an almost invisible electronic no-cash tolling system, which appears to be designed as a cash-extortion scam.

We rented a vehicle at the Miami airport and paid every cash toll there was. A few weeks later we received three different letters from the rental company, informing us of charges of between 75 cents to a dollar in toll fees from these no-cash passages, but with a $25 administration fee attached to each. These were added to our credit card.

Isn't this just a car-rental ripoff by the company, and shouldn't the State of Florida step in to stop this gouging?

ANSWER: I share your frustration, but it is a situation not confined just to the State of Florida, or the rental company from whom you rented your car.

I travel to Toronto on a frequent basis and often rent a car for the duration of my stay. Toronto now has similar unmanned tolls in the GTA region. There is no option for the casual visiting driver to pay for passage with cash or credit card. Locals purchase prepaid stickers which are identified by the technology in the toll units as the vehicles pass through.

So, even in this Canadian city, as you have experienced in Florida, I too have been charged both the toll fee and a service charge by Toronto based rental companies. It appears to be a sign of the times.

QUESTION: We recently went on a six-week European trip. Midway through our travels, we received an email advising us the charter airline had cancelled our flight home on Oct. 19. There was room for us to go home on a flight two days earlier.

If we did not take that flight, all the airline would do is refund us the cost we paid for a one-way return flight, which was not sufficient to pay for a last-minute flight with another airline.

We incurred costs for long-distance phone calls and hotel arrangements because the alternative airline did not depart on our original scheduled date of return.

The company has not responded to my request for reimbursement. What can we do?

ANSWER: The situation you describe is frustrating and common to every airline.

I'm aware of major wedding groups having their departure dates and itinerary dramatically changed, causing considerable chaos for them and the travel agency involved.

The airlines can make changes, and while we have found most carriers to be most often accommodating in helping ease some of the pain of the change, frequently it's of little consolation.

Most airlines do want to address legitimate issues like yours, so I'm surprised your situation was not rectified. We have found the company you dealt with quite good to work with, so I can't fathom what is happening in your case.

I would keep pursuing the matter because, as often happens, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."

Forward your travel questions to askjourneys@journeystravel.com . Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found at www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2012 D6

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