As the new winter season approaches and many of you are carefully researching your next holiday in the snow, it pays to be cautious. Unfortunately there are some rogue accommodation websites out there, and even some individuals claiming to represent privately owned ski chalets or larger tour operators. They’re desperate to rip you off and they have some pretty convincing tactics.
Fortunately the number of bookers falling foul to these fraudsters is very small and although we’re aware of some very elaborate examples, there’s plenty you can do to ensure you’re booking with a legitimate accommodation provider.
But if you’re ever in doubt, don’t book. If you’re suspicious that you’ve been offered accommodation that isn’t legitimate, please message the Morzine Source Magazine Facebook page so we can try to help you.
We’re also creating a master list of local accommodation providers who are known to us and that we believe to be operating legitimately. In other words, we’re pretty sure that they won’t scam you. View the list here.
Of course you’ll want to see some feedback or testimonials from previous guests before you spend your hard earned cash on a ski holiday. Does the company you’re booking with have an active presence on social media? Do they have reviews on TripAdvisor? Such platforms can help to indicate that a chalet operator is legitimate and therefore trustworthy. Also look out for ‘Resort Info’ and ‘About Us’ pages on accommodation websites. Do they have a story? A background? Legitimate operators will include such pages as they’ll be proud to share their story and their motivations.
But don’t let that be your only research…
Type in the name of the accommodation you’re thinking of booking, and the resort name, then tap the ‘images’ search on Google. Check that the images match those that you’ve seen on an accommodation website. Back on the ‘All’ tab on Google, skim through all listings associated with your accommodation to check if there’ve been any previous instances of this chalet being attached to a scam. It’s even worth copying and pasting the chalet description text and Google searching it to see if appears elsewhere on the internet. If it does, it’s likely been plucked from a legitimate company.
To entice you to book, scammers will often offer a deal that’s just too good to be true. We all know that ski holidays aren’t the cheapest holidays you’ll ever take, but at the same time, insanely cheap rates are a huge indicator of a scam booking. The same goes for availability; if it’s a peak week such as New Year or February Half Term and you’re being offered a discounted rate, question whether you’re booking a legitimate chalet.
Speak to Someone
When else in life would you spend hundreds or thousands of pounds on something without any direct contact with a company or service provider? Ski holidays are no different. Reputable, trustworthy companies will display their full contact details on their website, including their registered business address and at least one telephone number. Call that number. If there’s no reply, try again later. If you’re suspicious because of any of the reasons outlined above, and you still can’t speak with the accommodation provider, don’t book.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, just because you’re on the world’s biggest travel site. Scammers operate on AirB&B too! Pay particular attention if a host asks you to go ‘off platform’ to complete your booking.
Pay with your Credit Card
Scammers will always refuse to take a credit card an instead insist on a bank transfer, which should set alarm bells ringing, especially if you’re already suspicious. Note that many small, legitimate chalet companies also don’t accept credit cards as a payment method. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re dodgy!
If you’re still not convinced, and the accommodation in question is in Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz or the surrounding valley, ask us for help. We’ll do our very best too help you verify a chalet or company and if we don’t know them personally, we’ll ask our network of other business owners for help.