There is nothing more horrifying than being scammed during your holiday. Most of the time, you would save so much money and vacation days for those precious few days of relaxing by the beach. Unfortunately, many people who are simply trying to save money on their trip end up being victimized. In some cases, those who are booking cottages end up paying exorbitant hidden or additional fees or worse, having paid for a property that does not even exist.
The key is being smart and knowing these important steps when booking your cottage.
1 Use Your Instinct
The easiest way to spot any kind of scam is to follow what your gut tells you. If all other cottages are within a price range and something comes up that seems to be an incredibly good offer, then it is time to think twice. If it seems too good to be true, it is. Do your research, ask for pictures of the cottage, read reviews (to be sure that the place exists), and never ever send any money (like through Western Union). In some cases, the prices are so low because the cottage is in some remote or even shady part of the city or town, so researching the property is very important in weeding out the tourist traps.
2 Book through Reputable Rental Sites
You get a certain amount of safety and legitimacy by booking through a third-party, though it is not always foolproof. There are rental sites that allow cottage owners to advertise their property and let interested customers coordinate with them directly. This is different from having an agent do all the work for the owner. The difference is that with the first option, there is no more middleman, which can lower the cost. In the second option, there are instances where booking fees have to be paid, and they might raise your final expenses significantly.
3 Call the Owner
In most sites, you can find the contact details of the owner before you have to pay. It is a good idea to simply call them and ask for more information on the booking. For example, ask what is included in the price and if there are any additional charges. In some cases, a cleaning fee might be added, or there is a deposit necessary. Ask about the bed linen and towels, just to be sure you will not be sleeping without any sheets. Clarify if there is free parking available, as well as find out what facilities the cottage has or are available in the area. Be polite, and if they are rude or not helpful, you can also decide to go to another cottage.
4 Choose a Safe Method of Payment
Most owners will require a 25% non-refundable deposit once you book, and you would have to pay off the balance at least 4 weeks before the booking. Because the cost of these bookings can be higher compared to hotel rooms, it is important to be safe with your money.
When you pay more than £100 with your credit card, Section 75 protects you in case of a scam. Your credit card should help resolve the issue. If you pay at the site and the site will pay the owner, protection for credit card transactions might be provided, though your credit card might have a chargeback scheme.
If paying by credit card is not possible, do not ever wire money. Instead, deposit the amount into the owner’s account. If the account name and the address are suspicious or are in a different country, then it is very questionable.
Scammers nowadays are very smart and know how to sweet-talk their victims, so make sure that you only part with your hard-earned holiday money on reputable cottage owners by following these simple steps.