TRAVEL
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TRAVEL

How to Get Your Complaints Heard


Travel often is marred by glitches. Airlines,cruise lines, hotels and tour operators may disappoint. To whom should atraveler turn? In many cases there's an agency somewhere that wants to hearyour complaints.
A few general rules apply:
*Write down a detailed account of yourproblem.
*Complain as soon as possible after the problemhas occurred.
*When asking for compensation, specify theamount.
*Begin with your travel agent, if you used one.Next, write to the company that made you unhappy and keep a copy of your letterand their reply. If the response is unsatisfactory, consider contacting anorganization listed below:

Travel Consumer RestitutionCorp.: This quasi-public agency reimburses California consumers whodon't get services they paid for from California-based travel sellers. Forclaim forms, contact the organization at P.O. Box 6001, Larkspur, CA94977-6001; fax (415) 927-7698. (No public phone, Web site or e-mail isavailable.)

California attorney general: Tocheck on the registration of a travel seller or register a complaint, contactthe office at 300 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013; telephone (213)897-8065, fax (213) 897-8846. For broader questions about companies that dobusiness in California, contact the attorney general's Public Inquiry Unit,P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550; tel. (800) 952-5225, fax (916)323-5341, Internet http://caag.state.ca.us/piu/mailform.htm.

American Society of TravelAgents: This trade group takes complaints about its member companies.Contact ASTA's Consumer Affairs Department, 1101 King St., Suite 200,Alexandria, VA 22314; tel. (703) 739-8739, fax (703) 684-8319,http://www.astanet.com.

U.S. Tour Operators Assn.:Another trade group that tracks complaints about its members. Contact USTOA at342 Madison Ave., Suite 1522, New York, NY 10173; tel. (212) 599-6599, fax(212) 599-6744, http://www.ustoa.com.

Better Business Bureau:Regarding businesses in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardinocounties, call (909) 825-7280, fax (909) 825-6246 or go tohttp://www.bbbsouthland.org. In Ventura, Santa Barbara and San LuisObispo counties, call (805) 963-8657, fax (805) 962-8557 or go tohttp://www.santabarbara.bbb.org.

U.S. Department ofTransportation: This agency takes travelers' complaints, mostly aboutairlines. Contact DOT, C-75, Room 4107, Washington, DC 20590; tel. (202)366-2220, http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer/problems.htm.

PassengerRights.com: This Website lets travelers lodge complaints with airlines and federal officials. It'sa commercial venture (aimed at winning paid subscribers to a newsletter), butits free features can be handy.

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