Ways around Cancellation Fees to Save You Money

Ways Around Cancellation Fees

 

When making reservations, it is important to pay attention to prepayment and cancellation policies. If you need to make last minute changes, you could find yourself stuck with large penalty fees. Fortunately for all of you, I have a few tips when dealing with customer service. My time in the hospitality industry has taught me a few tricks that can save you time and money. Here are a few suggestions to help you find ways around cancellation fees.

Building Rapport

The first mistake people make when calling customer service is unleashing their frustrations on unsuspecting agents. The tone you set at the beginning of the phone call is a huge determining factor in the outcome of the call. Speaking from my own experience, I did the bare minimum for customers who started calls by screaming at me or blaming me for their troubles. It immediately put me on the defensive and attempt to end the call as soon as possible.

However, I was much more empathetic when a customer calmly explained their situation. I took the time to not only understand the problem, but also to find creative solutions. Often times, I would go the extra mile for these callers. Sometimes this meant finding loopholes to waive cancellation fees, seeking permission from a supervisor, or offering other forms of compensation of equal value. The life of a customer service representative is full of stress and undeserving anger, so remember that patience and kindness go a long way. It may be cliché, but you really do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Courtesy Holds without a Credit Card

Another little known tip when making reservations is the courtesy hold. Some hotels and airlines will allow you to hold a rate for 24 to 48 hours without a credit card. This gives you enough time to shop around or discuss it with your travel partners. Just remember that you will have to call back and confirm the reservation with a credit card or risk cancellation. If you are not quite ready to commit, be sure to ask if this option is available. This little known option can buy you extra time without a deposit.

Changing the Dates to Avoid Cancellation Fees

This last option falls into a gray area, so you need to be careful what you say on recorded calls. Most reservations allow cancellations within 24 hours of arrival. However, if you find yourself inside this cancellation period, there is a loophole. Instead of cancelling your reservation and paying the associated fees, simply change the dates. This puts you outside the cancellation period, allowing you to call back and cancel with no penalties.

Although you are not technically breaking any rules, it is frowned upon by many companies. Most customer service agents are aware of this tactic, but cannot offer it to you because calls are monitored. You should also be aware this does not apply to prepaid rates that require full prepayment.

Final Recap

When making reservations, you should always be aware of cancellation policies and required deposits. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are paying unnecessary penalty fees. However, if you do find yourself within a cancellation period, you have options. Most times you can get what you want by politely asking for it. The most important thing is to be kind and courteous. People are more willing to give you what you want when you remain calm and rational.

Read More

Creative Ways to Get into the Real Estate Market

Getting into the real estate market these days isn’t as easy as it used to be. The cost of living is rising, wages are stagnant and home prices going up. If you’re finding it tough to get your foot in the door, you’re not alone.

Here are some creative ways to get into the real estate market today in spite of high home prices.

 

Turning to the Bank of Mom and Dad

If you’re buying in a more pricey real market like Toronto and Vancouver, I feel your pain. Buying a condo, let alone a house, in these cities can be challenging. That’s why a lot of first-time homebuyers are going to the Bank of Mom and Dad. Many parents are willing to lend a helping hand if it means their adult kids will be able to buy in a decent neighbourhood nearby. Where are parents getting the money? Many are borrowing from the equity they’ve built up in their homes with a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

While there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, to improve your chances of making a successful withdrawal from the Bank of Mom and Dad, it helps to go prepared. Save as much toward your down payment on your own as possible. If you’ve made the effort, your parents may be more willing to top up your down payment so you don’t have to pay mortgage insurance premiums.

Your parents can help you with your down payment in a few ways. They can gift you the money outright. Or they can arrange a living inheritance, where you’re gifted inheritance now, while they’re still alive.

 

Buying with Family and Friends

An emerging trend with young buyers is buying real estate with family and friends. This is most common in expensive real estate markets, where it might take years to save up a down payment.

Buying with family and friends can be a great way to build up equity and get your foot in the door. You don’t even have to live together—some people do it purely as an investment.

When buying a property with someone, treat it like a business. Work with a lawyer to draft a plan for when someone wants to sell. Also consider the pain and strain owning such a large asset can put on your friendship. If your co-buyer loses their job and can’t pay the mortgage, this may end up hurting your credit score.

 

Saving for a Down Payment

So how much should you save for your down payment? Should you save the minimum down payment (5% for a purchase price under $500,000; when the purchase price is between $500,000 and $1 million, 5% on the first $500,000 and 10% for the portion above), or should you save 20%? If you’re in a small or midsize city like Regina or Winnipeg, where real estate is more affordable, aim for a 20% down payment. But if you’re in a major city where home prices keep rising, you’re typically better off buying when you’ve saved the minimum down payment (aim for a 10% down payment instead of 5%, to save on mortgage insurance). If you’re on the cusp of saving 20%, it’s probably worth waiting until you can save at least 20% to avoid costly mortgage insurance. Just make sure you aren’t priced out of the market while you save.

 

Brought to you bySean Cooper

Meal Planning for a Family on a Budget

Meal Planning for a Family on a Budget

The days ahead of our country will have everyone home-bound. With schools and businesses closing their doors, many families are struggling to stretch their food budget. Groceries are flying off the shelves faster than employees can stock them. Before you buy supplies for the weeks ahead, consider these three tips for meal planning for a family on a budget.

Continue reading