Ted Kalota wrote:
> I used Cruisemates bargin finder feature and have received
> serveral responses one of which I like. Not knowing this
> person or agency what is the best method to confirm they are
> not scam artists?
By chance does this travel agent have a web-site and a phone number, thats a start. If you want to check further you can check with the better business bureau too. You may also want to check out this link and see if your travel agent is listed:
Hope this travel agent and the cruise you found are what you were looking for and works out, good luck and happy cruising!
As the Bargain Finder is free and open to anyone we have no control over who responds and make no official recommendations. I do that many TA's I know and highly respect do answer these ads and are often the better deals. Like Donna and Kuki said, check to see if they have a website, a phone #, a member of the CLIA and in good standing, Check the BBB and ask around. Those to stay away from are the ones that ask you to get a price first and they will match or beat it, those that are hard to get in touch with over the phone, and those that charge fees for changes or cancellations outside of what the cruiselines charge. Also ask if they keep track of the current rates and if the rate falls will they get you the better rate. Good luck!
I had an experience with the Bargain Finder that was very similar to Ted's. I got a smoker of an offer on a cruise from a particular travel agent. The TA was on the opposite end of the country and didn't give much background. I couldn't find any reference to the agency in BBB, CLIA or ASTA. Feeling a bit nervous about the idea, I called a local agency (AAA) and asked if they could match the price, which they did. Even though I felt a little bit guilty about it, it was not difficult to choose the local agency. I ended up saving $675 pp off the published rates. So, I found Bargain Finder useful but maybe not the way it was intended.
I am a travel agent that responds to the Bargain Finders ads. Since many of the posters do not use their names, I don't know if I responded to you or not. However, any legitimate agent should not be offended if you asked for references, etc. Just shows good judgment. Hope this helps.