Better Business Bureau sees increase of complaints against hotels, vacation rentals due to red tide

But consumers may be out of luck in getting refund

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Hotel cancelations are on the rise thanks to the worst red tide in over a decade. Angry customers are turning to the Better Business Bureau demanding they get their money back. But they may be out of luck.

At Clearwater's BBB, the calls and online complaints about red tide keep coming in. 

Vacationers are angry, claiming hotels will not refund them after they asked for a cancelation.

"And also that companies were not being transparent with them in the fact that red tide was happening in their area," said Bryan Oglesby, Director of Public Relations and Outreach.

Oglesby says it's important you know your rights and this one is clear.

"So according to Florida law, if you made a reservation and paid a deposit the hotels or vacation rentals are not obligated to return your money," he said.

"A reservation is a contract," writes the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation on its website about the law.

But before calling it a total loss Oglesby suggest you do one thing — talk it out with the business.

"What we are finding is that hotels and vacation rentals want to keep their customers happy. They want to work with their customers," he said.

You can also be a savvy consumer. If you paid by credit card give them a call. Some companies will reimburse you for natural disasters. Plus, have travel insurance? It could be covered.

"We don't want to see consumers blasting negativity on social media, filing mass complaints," said Oglesby.

The peace-keepers vow with a little research and communication, both business and consumer can come out winning.

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