Having read all of this, I see my article had one major error that the policy change was only for UK agents ( I don't know how I manage to miss things like this but it happens).
To be clear - my example of rebating was meant to be overly simplified. I am fully aware of NCFs but I wanted to keep it simple.
I don't think you can explain the "problem" with rebating any more clearly than Pete did. If you book a cruise with a large discounter and you have a travel problem GOOD LUCK in calling them and getting help WHEN YOU NEED IT.
If you have a problem it is most likely to occur when you are on a layover heading to your cruise. Say, your second leg flight is late or canceled - what are you going to do?
It is NOT the responsibility of the airline to make sure you arrive in time to get to your ship, legally all they have to do is get you to where you are going (even if it is a day late).
I would much rather call Pete than "Travelocity" to say I need a different flight. I once booked a flight thru Travelocity and then booked the hotel THEY RECOMMENDED to me after the flight was confirmed. The hotel was worse than an armpit. I tried calling Travelocity after hours and only got voicemail.
I ended up booking a different hotel - and a month later Travelocity refunded the charge on my credit card, but they did nothing to help out with the problem.
Now - the biggest threat to "true-value" agents like Pete are the people who pick his brains and then go out and book the cruise he recommends through a cheaper travel agency. Personally, I think this is the lowest of lows. And I am guessing the first person they call when they have a problem with that booking is Pete!
Pete - how do you handle people like this?