Consumer Reports grades mega-agencies' sites

YONKERS, N.Y. -- Consumer Reports' on-line shopping guide gave positive reviews to the Web sites of three mega-agencies, American Express, Rosenbluth and Carlson Wagonlit.

Despite the favorable marks, it found room for improvement on each, particularly for Carlson.

The magazine's Web site, at www.consumerreports.org, rated the three sites' policies, content and usability.

It gave the Carlson site, at www.carlsontravel.com, a three out of a possible five and said the Carlson "policies and content are satisfactory, but booking can be a challenge."

The consumer organization noted that the Carlson site produces flight schedules in individual legs and that combinations must be built to access availability and fares.

And, regarding navigability, there are no back buttons in the booking process, the consumer group said.

ConsumerReports gave a four rating to www.americanexpress.com/travel.

The content was judged as useful, but the consumer organization faulted American Express for not detailing the privacy policy of its search and booking engine, powered by Internet Travel Network.

Rosenbluth Interactive's site, at www.travelution.com, also earned a four.

Information on the site and planning tools was deemed to be useful, but the booking process, although "fairly easy," requires one to "click through many pages to complete the process," the consumer group said.

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