I received an offer in the mail from American Express Travel Services this past March for an 11 day cruise on the new Celebrity Constellation that read like this:
"We're not talking cramped quarters here; this exclusive offer is for a Large (even for our standards) Ocean View Stateroom with Private Veranda". The words Large Ocean View Stateroom with Private Veranda were all in bold type.
When I got my confirmation in the mail a few days later, it shows a catefory 2C. When I look at Celebrity's brochure, 2C is a Deluxe Ocean-View Stateroom with Veranda. Category 3 is a "Large Ocean-View room with Veranda.
I contacted the AMEX agent that I booked this with and he is stating that "We referred 'Large' because the Deluxe category is a larger stateroom w/balcony by comparing it to other specials we have with other cruise lines...we did not really mean to refer to their 'Large' stateroom category........We did not even know that they call one of their categories 'large'."
The offer I got is about $400 lower than Celebrity's published early booking price but the way the offer read about this being a great offer, I thought we were getting something even better. I usually don't book unless I'm getting something much better than the published prices.
Do I have a case for misrepresentation? And if so, how do I handle this? I've asked that the rep talk to his supervisor about this.
We don't practice law around here, but I am a paralegal. The advice you are about to get is worth exactly what you are paying for it. Further, I am speaking as an individual, not on behalf of CruiseMates.
Whew. Now that that's out of the way ...
In order to prevail in a civil lawsuit, you have to prove damages., which can be a long and tedious task.
If you haven't yet made your final payment, go shopping. Last I heard, the Connie was totally booked for her European season so shopping may not help.
If you believe you have been damaged, call a lawyer. And that will probably cost more than the price differential.
Bottom line, if you are getting a cruise at a price you agreed upon I don't think there is much of anywhere to go with this.
I agree with Pamda's assessment. Although I am an attorney, I am not giving you legal advice! However, the key to any civil litigation is proof of damages. You would need to prove that you wouldn't have booked without the misrepresentation, that you paid for more than you got (were you charged more than the cruise line's charge for the room you received?), the statement from Amex was clearly incorrect or a misrepresentation of the facts (and that is a very subjective issue - despite the fact that Celebrity uses the term "Large" in the actual name of a certain category of staterooms, it is also a descriptive term which the "reasonable person" could have concluded was just referring to the dimensions of the room...) etc. Since you could have clarified what it was you were purchasing with a quick phone call to Amex before you put any money down, it is unlikely that you can prove you've been damaged. Furthermore, it seems like you've waited several months (if I read your posting correctly) to raise a complaint. You may be precluded from any claim based solely on that - i.e., if you could have corrected this, before any payment became non-refundable and you didn't do so, then you can't complain (legally) at this point.
Given the amount of money involved, any litigation may be subject to small claims court in the appropriate jurisdiction (Florida I believe?) so do you really want to pursue this? I would suggest that the better approach is either through trying to negotiate with Amex directly for their mis-use of the word "Large", and then chalk it up to a learning experience.
I am a lawyer and I wanted to respond to your post. I happen to be representing a travel agency in Texas in a lawsuit in which there is a forum selection clause in the tour participation agreement. My lawsuit involves passengers booked on an European cruise and the forum 'selected' was Massachusetts. Most cruise lines incorporate forum selection clauses into their contracts.
I am not sure if California enforces forum selection clauses but not all states enforce them. You would have to consult an attorney in your state about the enforceability. However, Pamda's advice on damages is 100% correct. Even if you were able to prove misrepresentation, your damages are hard to prove. You were offered a large ocean view private veranda room. The offer was not for a specific category of room. I think the advertising could definitely be more clear. Nevertheless, even if you were to establish fraud or misrepresentation, your damages are extremely hard to prove. Your damages would be easier to prove if you had paid for the cruise in full and then when you sailed, you were put in a broom closet.
Speak with the reps supervisor and be a squeaky wheel. They could be intimidated enough to upgrade you. Good luck!
One should never ask for any legal advice on the Internet. ANY advice you get short of seeing an attorney in person is absolutely worthless. That said, pick up the phone and speak with an attorney.
Community Staff Leader
If it were me, when I called to book, I would have asked.. What Category cabin is this? Seems to me that booking it, getting your confirmation, and then checking is a bit convoluted.
The advertising "MAY" be a bit of a stretch.. but show me advertising that isn't. I wouldn't waste the time of a lawyer, or your own time. If you want a Category 3, ask the TA how much the upgrade is!!
As an aside.. did you shop the price at all with other agencies. You never know, you may be able to get that Category 3, for less than Am Ex Travel is charging for the Cat 2.
Get over it....Litigation??...come on....Don't you have anything better to do than try to sue somebody .?? Trying to get something for nothing...never works...You should have checked out the offer by Amex more throughly to begin with.
AMEX made the offer-not Celebrity, I would not rely on Celebrity's definition for an AMEX offer. Everything is relative - none of us would buy a house with a master bedroom the size of any of these "deluxe" or"large" suites. Read any advertisement for real estate in a newspaper and envision what they are saying - you will be disappointed 99% of the time if you took one of these apartments without looking. Ask for details, don't make assumptions.
I know you feel duped. However, the rooms and verandas on these ships are more than adquate unless you are planning on entertaining crowds of people.
There is more than enough storage space for all of your stuff. The bathrooms are nicely equipped and the service on the ship should make up for any misunderstandings.
As they say, don't sweat the small stuff. Have a great cruise.
When they said "even by our standards" they were letting you know it was AMex standards, you chose to look without inquiring what their standards were, it gave AMex a very big window to explain their standards. It also was as good as stating " buyer beware"
I've read dozens of horror stories of cruisers getting taken by the bargain offers they receive. Your's doesn't sound 1/2 bad. If AMex wasn't willing to give the exact stateroom number at the time of the deposit, I'd have questioned the deal and would have to decide whether or not it mattered for the price they were offering. I was under the impression that category 2C is an excellent cabin.
As far as asking for legal advice on the message boards, I feel it doesn't hurt to ask fellow travelers if they would consider whether this warrants seeing an attorney. I think the advice given makes sense. How much did you really suffer monetarily is probably the question you have to ask yourself. Getting involved with an attorney can be a pain in the a**.
I probably paid way too much for my 11 day cruise because I didn't feel like waiting/searching for the good deals. I found a trip I really liked and really wanted so I just booked it.
The original offer did not state a category, only the description of a Large cabin with veranda. If one looks at the Constellation brochure, they'd see that the Large cabin is a category 3. Only in the confirmation did they list the category 2C and to this date I do not have a cabin number.
From all I've heard this is still a very nice room and ship so I am sure I'll be happy.
For those who thought I was asking legal advice, this is what I should have titled the subject.
> Please accept MY apology for assuming that you were talking
> about litigation and popping off on the subject.
> I'm sure you will have a great time.
It was my fault for wording it improperly. I expect we will have a great time. Thanks.
"I don't think AMEX is the kind of outfit that would pull anything intentionally but they should know a little better about the ships they are offering 'deals' on. JMNSHO."
A few years ago, my company had a contract with AMEX to handle corporate travel through their agency. They bungled travel arrangements so badly that most of us gave up on them and booked our own travel. I won't be doing business with AMEX any time soon..