A guest recently shared that they almost booked their ski holiday through a fraudulent company. Unfortunately, this has been going on in the ski industry for a while, and still persists today. We want to make sure you are aware of these and know how to spot them, so that you can avoid ski chalet scams.
What are fake ski chalet websites?
Fake websites posing as agencies or chalet companies will either create a fake chalet from stolen photos around the web, or pose as an ‘agency’ with multiple chalet listings.
These sites will steal photos and copy descriptions directly from other websites, which can make them seem legitimate at first glance.
We unfortunately have heard various stories over the years of holiday-makers losing their money to these types of scams, and we do not want that to happen to you. Here is how you can avoid ski chalet scams:
1. Check Their Online Presence
First, check their online presence across multiple platforms. This includes social media, review sites (Trip Advisor, Google, etc.) and digging deeper into their website. All of these things should have a history.
Are they on social media? For how long? How many followers do they have? Are people interacting with their pages and writing positive feedback? You can get a good sense of how genuine a company is from their social media profiles. And if you don’t find one at all, that’s definitely a red flag. It would be rare that a legitimate ski chalet company had zero social media presence.
Check TripAdvisor and Google to see if they have genuine reviews that have been there over time.
Dive into their website more. Do they have a blog where they share local info and have been doing so over a few years?
2. Look for companies with organic search results
Do you know the difference between a paid (advert) Google search result and an organic (unpaid) one? 60% of Brits don’t, according to a 2018 study.
Although many reputable and legitimate companies pay for Google Ads, the organic search results will only contain legitimate companies. Scammers will not be able appear in the search results without paying for them.
It can be hard to spot, but a paid advert will have a small box marked ‘Ad’ just to the left of the URL (see below). You’ll notice how many adverts are listed before organic results appear. Not only is it best practice to go straight past the ads to avoid scams, but generally the best sites will appear at the top organically.
3. Check for different payment types
The biggest warning sign is if a website only accepts payment via bank transfer. They do this purposely so that you have no guarantee on your purchase and are put in a vulnerable position. Look for a company that offers a variety of payment types (which may include bank transfer) but will often include credit/debit card, PayPal, etc.
When in doubt, pay by credit card so you have a layer of protection on your payment.
4. Availability for busy weeks
The majority of these scams are running during the busy weeks of the season – Christmas, New Year, Half Term and Easter. These are weeks with high demand, and thus limited availability, which is where the scammers come into play.
If you’re searching for one of these busy weeks at quite short notice, and it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That Feb Half Term chalet you found in December at a bargain? Be careful…
5. Search on Companies House
If it’s a UK company, look on Companies House to find genuine company information.
If they’re a foreign company, get in touch with the local tourist office. The tourist offices will know reputable companies in the area and they may even have a list of chalets and agencies in their resort that they could check for you.
6. Phone them
Scammers have a harder time hiding behind the phone. Moving your communication away from solely email is a good way to avoid ski chalet scams.
If it is an agency site, search for the chalet website directly. Get in touch with them to see if indeed they work with this ‘agency’. If it is a ski chalet site, ask to speak to the owner or director. This person should be an expert on their chalet and be able to answer any and every question you have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you feel a bit uneasy about.
Contact details should be easy to find, and that includes a phone number. Definitely don’t keep your communication solely to email if you feel uncertain.
Book in confidence with Ski Dazzle
Book with us directly for the best rates and know that you can book in confidence. We’ve been helping holiday-makers enjoy their time in La Tania since 2002, and you can find guest reviews going back many years both on our website and across multiple platforms including TripAdvisor.
We accept debit or credit card, along with bank transfer. You can also find us and our history on Companies House.