In this or any other decade, travel has never been cheap—or easy. Many people enlist the services of a professional to make their arrangements. This collaboration enables travelers to get the best value with the added bonus of expert advice on flights, accommodations and experiences—making a vacation feel more like a vacation.
A deposit, or sometimes full payment, may be required to confirm and secure travel arrangements. The traveler provides the agent with access to the funds and the agent makes the payment on behalf of the traveler.
But what happens if, after payments are made, the travel services are not delivered, a refund is not provided, and the agent or agency cannot be reached to resolve the issue? California consumers may be able to recover money lost in this situation by filing a claim with the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation (TCRC). This private, non-profit organization was established to provide relief to California consumers who paid for certain transportation and travel services from registered sellers of travel who have gone out of business, filed for bankruptcy or failed to provide the promised transportation or travel services. California consumers may file a claim up to $15,000 per person within one year after the scheduled date of completion of travel (Bus. & Prof. Code section 17550.47.) For more details or to file a claim visit www.tcrcinfo.org.
California’s “Seller of Travel Act” Business and Professions Code sections 17550-17550.59, is overseen and enforced by the California Office of the Attorney General (OAG). California requires all sellers of travel to register annually with the OAG, display the registration number on all advertising, and provide visual evidence of the registration certificate at their place of business. This registration indicates compliance with the Seller of Travel law. However, it is not an assurance that a company is reputable. Travelers can use the Seller Search feature on the OAG website to find a list of registered sellers of travel.
Most California sellers of travel are also required to register as participants with the TCRC. Agency registrations provide the funds from which eligible and approved consumer claims are paid So only claims issued against participants registered at the time of purchase are accepted for review and decision. Travelers can search for current participants on the TCRC website.
California travelers who desire an extra level of protection for their travel investment should work only with properly registered California sellers of travel who are also current TCRC participants. Information on the TCRC, relevant statutes and the claims process can be found on the TCRC website.