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Old 07-08-2007, 08:58 AM
 
2,066 posts, read 4,500,097 times
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We have some friends who feel they were overcharged by a Travel Agency. They found out, after their vacation had ended, that they paid $1,250 for a $399 (advertised price in Cruise Line brochure) cruise package. Needless to say, they are very upset and considering possible legal action against the agency. Our friends are also upset because they discovered that the Cruise Line included a number of perks such as, discounts, free rooms, etc., which the Travel Agency never passed on to their group.

I told them that they do not have a case to stand on because the a Travel Agency can charge whatever price they want, and if an uneducated consumer decides to by an overpriced cruise vacation package, that's just tough luck.

So, my question is (1) Are there price limits Travel Agencies can charge for cruise vacation packages, and can an agency charge more than 50% of the advertised price of a cruise vacation package even though they receive a commission on the advertised price from the cruise line. And (2) Can my friends take legal action against the Travel Agency.
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Old 07-08-2007, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Home is where we park it.
3,099 posts, read 8,457,627 times
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Quote:
So, my question is (1) Are there price limits Travel Agencies can charge for cruise vacation packages, and can an agency charge more than 50% of the advertised price of a cruise vacation package even though they receive a commission on the advertised price from the cruise line. And (2) Can my friends take legal action against the Travel Agency.
1) I would read the fine print on the travel agent web site or brochure or whatever your friend signed.

2) Depending on what you discover in the fine print is what your friend can do with legal action.

3) The most your friend is probably going to be able to do is live and learn. Liz
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Old 07-09-2007, 03:59 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,386 posts, read 41,514,892 times
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I am sorry for your friends.
I hope they at least had a good time.
There are a lot of reasons why I avoid package deals, and this is one of them.
There are honest travel agencies, but we haven't called one in close to 15 years.
I have heard of airlines honoring price decreases, but that was *before* the trip took place, and anyway, this is an entirely different situation.
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Old 07-09-2007, 03:12 PM
 
Location: Tampa baby!!
3,258 posts, read 8,183,435 times
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Unless the paperwork states something false, I don't see how they can take it to court. I used to work at a Cruiseline and I can't tell you how many people called upset with their travel agent wanting to take over their own booking. But, they couldn't without the agency's permission and we weren't even allowed to make changes because the agency effectively "owns" that reservation. A lot of the agencies use a company credit card for payment, so if a party changes their minds, the agency is out of luck.

Most of the time they can find cheaper airfare for you as well, but if they book through the cruiseline, they might get a higher commission. (ours did).

In their defense, they do a lot of work and take a lot of guff from customers and cruiselines/airlines/hotels. And again, they usually pay for it then charge the customer, so it's not hard for them to get ripped off. They have to make up for some of the flaky people somehow.

You friend should have just booked direct or gone through someone like Expedia. Sorry, but with an agent, you are paying for a service. And Expedia only charges a $5 booking fee.
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Old 07-09-2007, 03:51 PM
 
2,066 posts, read 4,500,097 times
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Thanks to all for your input. I as suspected and told my friends, there does not appear to be a case for any legal actions.
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Old 07-12-2007, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Roanoke VA
2,031 posts, read 6,261,176 times
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As a former travel agent, the travel agency business makes no sense. For legal action, forget it. On the travel brochure, it states in legal talk that a travel agent acts as an agent of the travel provider, thereby eliminating responsibility from a dispute. If you bought the same pair of shoes at Macys and they were 3 times the price of the same at Sears, would you have any recourse? Not on your life!
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Old 07-14-2007, 07:43 PM
 
Location: Penobscot Bay, the best place in Maine!
1,895 posts, read 5,362,567 times
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They might have some luck if they try to enlist the help of a comsuner advocate, but only so that the travel agency could avoid bad PR, not because they are legally obligated to do so.
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Old 07-31-2007, 10:01 PM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
2,866 posts, read 8,600,859 times
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I can't understand how a Travel Agency could charge more than a cruise line charges because as a TA myself I have to call credit card into the cruiseline.
I don't know what the deal was or for what line, but Cruiselines usually don't give free hotels.
If a TA has a group then cruise can be less and some amenities may be added. Example, Onboard Credit
Diane
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:15 AM
 
35 posts, read 301,514 times
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Default A Travel Agent responds...

As a professional travel consultant I hear these types of stories all the time. However, once all the facts are known the TA usually has not ripped the consumer off.

Cruise lines are notorious for advertising $399 specials BUT that price is usually good for a particular sailing - in the Caribbean usually high hurricane season - and for an inside undesirable cabin. Plenty of great deals if you want to cruise the Carib during Sep/Oct/Nov. But, if you can only go during high season (when the kids are out of school) then the $399 cabin sells for $899 or higher. Also, did your friends have an inside cabin? Inside, oceanview and balcony cabins are all priced according to location.

Travel agents get a bum rap but professional agents have their clients best interest at heart and seek to build lasting relationships with their clients. There are too many people selling travel that don't have a clue how the business works and are only in it for the money and what little perks are available nowadays. Working with a professional can make all the difference. We can get upgrades when available, amenities like shipboard credit when available, etc.

As for the group amenities, the cruise line usually offers one free bed for every 8 double occupancy cabins sold within a group. Depending on the size of the group, the travel agency can pass this discount onto the group or not. If it is a small group the agency may decide to keep the discount as opposed to passing on because small groups are ALOT of work and the agency could be in a position of actually losing money otherwise. But, if it is a big group then some agreement is usually reached between the agency and the group leader.

Finding a professional travel agent to build a relationship may not be for everybody. If you only cruise once a year. If you are shopping for price alone. If you have the time to do research for the best deal then using the big gorilla online services or going directly to the cruise line will work for you. However if you work with a professional TA we get to know your likes and dislikes and can find the best vacation experience possible within your budget. Carnival, as an example, is not for everyone. We have vast amounts of information at our disposal that allows us to prepare the dream trip you are looking for. Yes, the internet is a great resource but should something go wrong with something you've booked online who will back you up?

I would have your friends discuss their complaint with the manager of the travel agency they bought from. They may find out they got the best deal available at the time. If they did not - then the agency should explain the reasons why to their satisfaction. Possibly even some monies refunded IF the agency was at fault. At least they will feel better once it is discussed.
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Old 08-04-2007, 07:53 AM
 
Location: SW MO
1,238 posts, read 4,101,461 times
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Please be aware of the hidden charges that can drive up the price of a trip also. If that was the advertised room rate, there may be port fees, taxes, embarkation fees, shuttle from hotel to boat, etc.
If they haven't already, they should request an itemized breakdown of the cost from the travel agency. Then they would know if they really got ripped off, or just mislead (either way is discouraging, but buyer beware).
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