Sunday, July 08, 2007

Know what you're buying before bidding online

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The grungy hotel room was reeking of smoke. The bathtub was rusty. The bedspread and furnishings were dingy relics.

But I couldn't leave.

I'd already paid $155 in an online travel auction for the Queen Mary Hotel room -- $91 for the room, $20 commission, $24 in taxes and $20 to upgrade to a room with a window. I'd taken a risk. And lost.

Online travel auctions promise fabulous bargains on vacations, hotels and airfare to glamorous places, playing on travelers' desires to get a steal of a deal. Sometimes they work out wonderfully. Sometimes they don't.

"Since the beginning of man, people have always wanted more for less," says Greg Donewar, manager of the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center in Fairmont, W.Va.

"If it sounds too good to be true, beware."

Ah, the old caveat emptor.

complete article here

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