Old Wives' Tales
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Claim: Several on-line airline ticket sites are scams used to harvest credit card numbers or cheat consumers out of their money.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2005]
Origins: The advent of the World Wide Web has proved a boon for travelers: now consumers can not only plan their own itineraries and purchase tickets for air travel without having to deal with travel agents or airline reservation personnel, they can take advantage of comparison-pricing search tools to quickly find the very cheapest fares. Unfortunately, now ticket buyers aren't always aware of just whom they're dealing with, or how reputable they are.
Although we don't know the provenance of the warning quoted above, which alerts consumers to various scam airline ticketing web sites (we've seen versions credited to
Web users have reported similar experiences about the ticketing sites at submitprice.net, busysky.net, cheapclouds.com: they attempted to purchase tickets from these sites using credit cards, received error messages indicating that their cards could not be processed, and were then told that due to technical problems they needed to submit payment via Western Union:
After investigation of the problems encountered by our customers today it seems that the payment gateway we are using is not capable to meet our demand and is no longer processing our orders. We are making progress in signing new merchant contract with one of the available payment gateways but they all require fat contracts and it will take a while before everything is set up and working. All new requests are put on hold and we want to clear all currently not-paid duties (users that have agreed to our terms) via the only acceptable option I've found — the Western Union system. They offer secure and high privacy online credit card payments.This should immediately raise a red flag, because the consumer who submit funds in this manner has provided the recipient with both valid credit card information and payment in a form that is not easily recoverable: a potential double-whammy rip-off. Although we haven't yet come across any reports from consumers who experienced unauthorized charges on their credit cards after ordering tickets
Fortunately, many users seem to have been savvy enough to realize that something was amiss with these sites and stopped short of submitting their credit card information to them, canceled their cards after attempting to purchase tickets through these sites, or declined to follow the instructions to submit payment through Western Union.
The principle of caveat emptor applies just as much buying airline tickets on-line as to any other purchase: if a deal seems too good to be true, there's probably a catch.
Last updated: 23 March 2005
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