Thu, Jul 08, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Be wary of travel travel agencies: consumer group

STAFF WRITER

The Consumers' Foundation yesterday warned the public to be wary of travel agencies that charge extra fees when booking travel packages or airplane tickets, saying many agencies are illegally adding transaction fees of up to 3 percent to credit card transactions.

The foundation quoted a study conducted by its Consumer Report magazine last month in which 16 out of 30 travel agencies queried said they had additional transaction fees for travel package purchases. The study, to be published in this month's issue, found that 19 out of the 30 added extra fees for air ticket purchases.

"According to the Regulations Governing Institutions Engaging In Credit Card Business (信用卡業務機構管理辦法), businesses that have merchant relations with the credit card units of financial institutions are not allowed to impose added service fees," explained Christopher Kuo (郭尚義),a member of the foundation's financial panel. "If such practices are found, the financial institution should end business relations with that business."

During the study, the magazine found that businesses were unclear about the justification for the transaction fees, with several businesses stating that such fees were dependent on the type of travel package purchased or number of package clients or passengers. When magazine representatives pressed the agencies for more information, some were told the fees were negotiable, if the client introduced additional clients to the agency.

The foundation called on consumers to take appropriate measures if travel agencies insist on transaction fees by refusing to purchase from such agencies.

In other cases, foundation representatives urged consumers to keep transaction receipts or to tape-record their interactions with the agency if sales people refused to give receipts reflecting the additional charges.

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