The Truth Behind the Fine Print for Online Deals

Have you noticed the fine print for those online deals that seem to be good to be true?

Well it’s CRUCIAL that you do – as your bargain can actually end up costing you more money that had you gone direct!! Here’s what I mean:

I just got an email for an amazing deal for some swanky hotels in Queensland – just what I need after a cold winter in Melbourne.


I looked at my diary and saw a weekend free – no sports, dinners with friends, no work – just empty waiting to be filled so I got to thinking and planning .. A long weekend for the family to splash around in a fabulous lagoon type pool with the kids getting rid of that energy they have built up over the cold winter months down here in Victoria.

Ohhh and the pictures of those online bargains seemed just perfect… cascading pools and spacious luxurious apartments, fine dining, early morning beach walks on the Gold Coast… The BUY BUTTON was just aching to be hit!

… But something stopped me – gut instinct? Fear of Flying? No, I’m a cynic and Uber careful – I needed to check the fine print.

What I found

I checked and found that I needed to pay extra for Son #2 and there were no refunds unless I bought insurance… and then the dates I could actually fit us all in… were dates that were Black Out dates.

But I really really need a holiday… so I did a bit more research and actually rang the hotel directly to see what I could do – actually I rang the number noted and discovered a really helpful friendly super sales lady who almost had me sold until I asked one final question – “Am I speaking to the actual hotel?’

The answer was ‘No, this is a booking service’

fine print

My experience in the past with going through an online booking service is that they are paid to sell as many bookings as possible. This is their job and we all need to earn a living – I respect that.

What my experience with over 25 years of travel also highlights is that sometimes those small details that become crucial only become apparent on arrival.

Items such as $200-$500 hold on credit cards (more for debit cards). The inability to upgrade. Additional costs such as ‘parking’ – yes I know I assumed that when you book a hotel room it automatically comes with a car park – but not necessarily.

So while initially the online bargain price can seem awfully cheap – it’s the costs of incidentals that aren’t always discussed.

Oh I know – these are usually listed in the fine print and terms and conditions.. but who really has the time to read those?

Back to my holiday planning –  I politely ended the call with the booking service, made a note of the deal – rang the hotel directly after finding their local number on Google and discussed my plans with them.

It seems I got pretty much the same deal with a little more flexibility built in and the receptionist even helped me organise a local car hire company Alpha Car Hire who is happy to collect us from the airport at no extra charge- now that’s a DEAL!


So now we are looking forward to a fabulous long weekend away on the Gold Coast– don’t get me wrong I love Melbourne, it is an amazing city and come Melbourne Cup time – you don’t want to be anywhere else, but right now heading to the Gold Coast of Queensland for some sun is what the Doctor ordered!

Check out Alpha Car Hire for awesome local service with great prices!