6 Most Common Tricks of Fraud Tour Operators in China
When facing a great deal of China tour operators, without a cool head and sharp eyes, it is easy for tourists to fall into some travel traps such as fake qualification, false advertisements, extreme low price, hidden fees, and compulsory purchase. Here we list 6 most common tricks of fraud tour operators that you should try to avoid:
Fake Qualification Due to Illegal Subcontracting
You may find some travel agencies on the market, claiming themselves the branches of some well-known tour operators, but actually most of them are just 'affiliated' to these large agencies by paying a certain amount of fee. There are also travel agencies in China subcontracting a certain area of the workplace or even a business department to individuals. If you happen to meet such a self-employed tour operator with a decent title but actually limited experience, it's certain that a high-level and enjoyable China tour experience cannot be guaranteed.
See more details about How to Identify the History of China Travel Agencies
False Advertisements from 'Warm-Hearted' Hawkers
Ignore various sticker ads on billboards, utility poles, street lamp posts, or other roadside facilities, and also be cautious of flyers stuffed into your hands by strangers. A reputable travel agency won't do that way. Such advertisements are mostly false and services provided by them are absolutely not reliable.
Around the train stations, bus stations, or some commercial blocks in China, you need to be careful of the typical traps from some 'warm-hearted' guys speaking simple English that recommend you the so-called 'economy' tours or 'cheap' rides to tourist attractions. The same situation also happens around some scenic areas. 'Warm-hearted' tricksters will keep after you saying they can help you get the tickets at a low price or even lead you into the tourist spots for free. If this happens, we suggest you stop talking with them and leave. Always remember to ignore touts or people who offer you a free lunch.
Extreme Low-Price Trap: Travel at No Cost?
There are some wicked tour operators, launching deceptive itineraries at extremely low prices. Customers easily buy on impulse when encountering cheap and enticing prices. However, wake up and think twice when you see a tour sold at an obvious below-cost price, or even at zero. Don't be naive to concern for the profit of the tour operator; you have to worry about your own pocket. Once joining such a tour, you are counted as one of the multipliers of their commission, when the guide continuously takes the group to the appointed stores with over-priced jewelry. Some tour operators even lower the service standard in dining, vehicles or accommodation to get the profit back.
Hidden Fees and Surcharges
Vague tour contract is another commonest trap which usually features hidden fees and unannounced self-paid activities. There are visitors complaining that they are informed to pay extra fees on the spot, otherwise the guides would leave them by the roadside for hours, waiting for other group members taking the self-paid activities. Optional activities are common and acceptable when they are stated clearly in an itinerary to allow flexibility and personal preference, but you should be aware of them in advance, not be informed on the spot or forced to pay. Be careful to see all the inclusions, exclusions, optional items and their prices before start a travel booking. A decent travel agency will sure have all these essentials clearly showed in their web pages or brochures.
Unannounced Shopping Obligations & Compulsory Purchase
Shopping is a delightful supplement of a tour if being properly arranged, allowing travelers to learn about the local handicrafts and buy satisfactory souvenirs. However, be alert of tours with unclear shopping activities and obligations. Some mean tour operators may play tricks on this to add more shopping stops without informing the customers in advance. Small tour operators don’t have fixed local guides, let alone training or regulating them. As a result, some guides will probably cut the sightseeing time and threaten visitors to stay longer in the stores to buy things of low quality but at high prices in order to take kickbacks. Travelers are forced to buy and always end up with being ripped off!
Bait-and-Switch Trick by Flattering Photos
Over-edited photos can cheat you. This happens mostly in accommodation, dining and bus services. Some tour operators are incapable of managing the service standard, and use over-edited or even deceitful photos to allure customers. A luxury hotel photo showing the international chained-brands’ style might turn out to be a plain lodging with substandard facilities or an inconvenient location; a so-called high-end restaurant is actually a fast-food eatery; a limousine on the photo might be replaced by a battered old car. Before booking, one could turn to the reviews and photos of real buyers to confirm the actual service standard of a China tour operator.