7 On Your Side:Trip Tricks

George Van De Langeryt had his heart set on a cruise to Mexico and found a way to hit the high seas by hitting the information superhighway. "I found one on Ebay that was definitely in our price range," says George.
  He says he probably saved about a thousand dollars! Travel auctions are hot and not only on Ebay. Sites like Bidshares, Luxurylink and Skyauction offer things like: "Cruises, hotels, vacation packages, timeshares," says David LaHuta with Budget Travel Magazine.
  LaHuta says you really can nab a bargain. But we connected with Sea the World Cruises and Tours in Lindale who warns you've got to be careful.
  "I don't think [consumers] really know what it is they're bidding on," says Sea the World Owner Sue Ratliff.
  She says her clients have inquired about these low prices for vacation packages online.... But they tend to be too good to be true. "And when you start clicking through the price online you find out, oh my gosh, there's a port charge, there's a government fee. You don't find out until you're right down to making this commitment," says Ratliff.
  Plus there's no guarantee you'll get what you're promised in the description. Just ask John McQuaide. He won a timeshare advertised as a two bedroom, but when he made the reservation: "They told me that 'no, all I have is a one bedroom unit,'" says McQuaide.
  "I tell my people when you do business with me you can come back and know who you're going to shake your finger at," says Ratliff if a customer is ever unhappy with their trip.
  Know what you're dealing with. If you come across deals on flight vouchers, upgrades or frequent flier miles, beware. You may get a great deal, but when you go to cash them in: "There's a good chance that ticket can be null and void when you try to use it," warns LaHuta.
  No matter what you buy it's how you pay that may protect you. Use paypal or: "If paypal is not accepted, then always pay with credit card. Never in cash and never in a check," says LaHuta.
  John McQuaide used his credit card and was able to get his money back on the timeshare, a lesson that hunting for the best deal still comes with a price.
  One final tip to think about if you bid online: read all the fine print for restrictions, such as black out dates.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com