Cancelled Flight? Know Your Rights!

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While the blizzard of 2016 has a plethora of New Jerseyans looking forward to queuing up Netflix and eating snacks all weekend, there are some people who aren’t happy about the storm, not even one little bit.

It’s true that the bitter cold months of January and February are typically the most popular time of year to jet out of here and into a more tropical locale. After dealing with cracking skin and endless static cling, a week-long beach-side getaway sounds downright blissful. Not to mention, off-season rates for everything vacation-related can mean big savings for anyone traveling on a budget.

The risk of winter wanderlust, for those of us living in a seasonal climate region, is naturally that a gigantic snowstorm will roll into town just as you’re about to roll out. This can result in delayed flights, which may put a few kinks into your itinerary, OR  (cue horror music) cancelled flights.

Unfortunately, most people discover much too late that they just don’t have many rights when it comes to their flight being cancelled. In the United States, airlines are by law only required to provide passengers with food and water if they’re stranded on the runway for more than two hours. If your flight gets cancelled, you may get a voucher for a slightly discounted hotel room. You might also be pointed in the direction of the airport benches for the night.

What rights do you have as a consumer with a cancelled flight?

We all know that a discounted hotel room near the airport isn’t anyone’s idea of making up for lost snorkeling time and mai tais. However, the only thing airlines are required to do is to make sure you reach your destination at some point. It may not be until the next day; it may be several days later.

As you can imagine, this can royally mess up vacation plans, as hotels and resorts are not likely to hold room reservations when you don’t show up. This can very quickly derail your entire vacation.

In order to be your own best advocate, start calling your airline on your cell phone while you simultaneously stand in the ticketing line. Weather conditions may cause other travelers to ditch their travel plans, opening up plane seats that you can use! If your airline simply doesn’t have any open seats on any flights within a reasonable time frame, ask them to find you a seat on a different airline.

It’s up to each airline individually to determine how much help they want to be to their delayed travelers, however, persistence often pays off. If you absolutely can’t get a flight out in time, contact the hotel or resort where you’ll be vacationing. Alert them to your situation and ask if they can push your entire vacation back a few days to accommodate your travel troubles. You may be pleasantly surprised by how flexible some establishments will be – as long as they have openings.

You may have to make do with a few shifts in your overall vacation plan, but by being proactive you can almost always salvage most of your much-needed getaway. Preparedness and quick thinking will give you the best chances of reaching your destination even when weather threatens to ruin everything.

 

Image credit: Curimedia
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Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

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At Veitengruber Law, we spend a lot of time helping clients clean up their credit reports and improve their credit scores. Since your credit score and the corresponding report are crucial in so many areas of your life, it’s important for you to know that you have consumer credit rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

What is The Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law, originally enacted in 1970, whose purpose is to ensure that all information obtained and retained about you by any consumer reporting agency is fair and accurate. The FCRA is also in place to protect the privacy of your personal information. This law is essentially the backbone of consumer credit rights in the United States, and works together with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Some of your rights under the FCRA include:

  • The right to information.  There are many different consumer reporting agencies, and you have the right to know what information any of them have stored in your file. Typically, you can request the information in your file once a year at no cost. If you have experienced identity theft or if you feel that a fraudulent act has caused errors in your file – you should be able to request a copy of your file more than once per year. Other reasons that may prompt you to request disclosure of your file: job loss, receiving public assistance, or an action taken against you due to something in your credit report or other file.
  • The right to know if information was used against you. If you are applying for a loan, a job, insurance, an apartment, (etc) and have been turned away, it is your right to know why you were denied. The person or company that denied you is required to tell you which credit agency gave them the information that caused your denial. This means you will be able to look into the information that a particular reporting agency has on file about you in order to check for errors.
  • The right to know your credit score. Some credit reporting agencies turn the information in your file into a score. Credit scores are used in order to give lenders and other necessary people/companies an overall summary of your financial history. Your credit score helps lenders make decisions about how credit worthy you are. Because your credit score is crucial in some very important transactions, you are entitled to know your score. Although your credit report is free (once per year), you will be charged a small fee for your numerical credit score – usually around $10.
  • The right to dispute. The number one reason why you should keep a regular eye on your credit report and score is so that you can make sure all of the information they contain is correct. If you should discover that there are inaccuracies within your credit file, you are entitled to have the faulty information corrected or removed.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is monitored by the Federal Trade Commission. To learn about the rest of your federal consumer/credit rights, visit their website. Additionally, some states have consumer reporting laws that may further benefit you. To find out more, contact your local consumer protection agency.

For help with disputing false information on any of your consumer files, please contact our office for a free consultation.

 

 Image credit: DonkeyHotey