Goldhawk Fights Back: Cheap travel or terrible touring?

This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at

Far be it from me to discourage anyone from getting a bargain
but when it comes to travel, that bottom basement trip can turn into a
voyage into hell that can savage your bank account, your peace of mind, your
family relations and worse, the health of you and your fellow

Yes, there are good deals in travel, probably lots of them. Some
of them can be found on the websites that offer low prices on travel,
accommodations, events and so on. Some of the best can be found at travel
agencies where people who know what they are doing can help you find the
best vacation you can afford. Travel consultants also can create a vacation
from scratch if you’re not sure of a destination that will satisfy everyone
from your spouse to your pre-teen and teenage children.

The catch is you
have to find a travel agency that is experienced, competent and honest. Look
for the TICO logo and members of ACTA. TICO is a not-for-profit corporation
financed by Ontario-registered travel agents and wholesalers, and
administers the
Travel Industry Act,2002 and the Ontario Travel Industry
Compensation Fund. ACTA represents 2,600 travel agencies across Canada. If
you deal with these agencies, you have a good chance of being able to seek
compensation for a ruined trip and of getting help in an

Unfortunately, there are rogue operators among travel
consultants and companies that operate tours and other vacation travel. Some
of these outfits have gone bust, leaving customers in the lurch, only to be
reborn out of bankruptcy to wreak havoc again. Some set up in provinces
where there are no regulations for travel companies.

ACTA’s President David
McCaig wants Transport Minister John Baird to implement measures such as a
national consumer compensation fund for Canadians who are stranded around
the globe when their travel firm goes bust, national regulations to govern
travel agents and, in general, protection for travel consumers in every part
of the country.

Until the feds move, if ever, go by the Golden Rule of
bargain hunting: if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Think
of Zoom Airlines, the operators that failed in August last year leaving some
900 travellers on their own until TICO came to the rescue. And Scottish
travel firm Globespan that collapsed earlier this month leaving an estimated
3,400 passengers stranded.

It might have been much better for these
consumers to let a good travel agent help them find a trip they could afford
than to travel on the cheap to a destination right out of Satan’s locker.

Photo © Artur Gabrysiak


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Dale GoldhawkGemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).

Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.