I too have to applaud Pete for his participation on our boards.
When he first found us he did put a link in his signature line. However, when I notified him that it was allowed he ceased. And unlike many travel agents who have jumped on the site to post links, and disappeared when told it was not allowed, Pete has stuck around and been helpful.
To the topic of rebating, I've posted several blogs on the topic.
This one from Jan. of this year.
Cruisemates Blog » Should Cruise Pricing Be Transparent? – Kuki
And this one from 2010.Cruisemates Blog » Are Restrictive Pricing Policies The Path To The End of Cruise Travel Agents? – Kuki
I do have to say that when rebating of commissions was allowed, I found many travel agents who provided both rebated pricing AND great service.
I also found some travel agents who claimed they provided great service, and that's why they were unable to rebate, but didn't provide the service they claimed.
I've NEVER recommended people book their cruises through companies like Travelocity or Expedia. However, there are many many travel agents who have a web prescence, who are full service cruise specializing agent services.
I do believe that the flat pricing policies by the cruise lines have led to a considerable move by consumers to book directly with the cruise lines.
Generally people don't easily understand what the advantages might be to booking with a travel agent, rather than booking direct.
Rather, if pricing is the same, I think it's common for them to wonder why they should use a "middle man".
As for cruise lines trying to clamp down on agents ignoring the flat pricing policies... there are still plenty of agencies that do. We see people posting that they get rebate checks from the travel agencies, once their travel is complete. I'm sure there are many other "creative" ways around it.
Until the cruise lines actually follow through on their threat to suspend travel agents ability to book their lines for violations, there are going to be agents "gaming the system".