Normally, I would not respond to such a posting, but this whole situation has literally brough me to tears. You see, I am the TA of record on this client who posted her complaint here on 9/22 with the heading, "Being Jerked Around By My TA." The entire situation has been so very frustrating, but to read the responses posted here has truly saddened me. They are hurtful, and potentially harmful. But worse, they are truly undeserved. As with any story, there are two sides, and I feel I must defend myself. In the process, perhaps I (and other agents reading the posting) can help to educate those who do not understand the process. Admittedly, some of you have noted that "pieces" of the story may have been left out. For your objectiveness, and at times support, I thank you. Yes, pieces have definitely been left out.
This client and I began discussing their cruise around mid/late July. At the time, she was looking for the least expensive inside cabin, for which we offered a rate. After checking with other agents, she came back, indicating we had the best rates of those she found. In our conversation, she asked if there were any other specials being offered on the cruise. At the time, Princess offered $99 upgrades; meaning, $99 up to an outside, and an additional $99 up to a balcony. On July 31, I received an email asking us to book the balcony cabin, which we did. A few days later, the client changed her mind, and asked to be switched back to an inside cabin...the cheapest possible. So, we changed it. After doing so, the client asked to be placed on the Lido Deck because she read on these postings that the Lido Deck was the best deck to be on. I explained to her that the Lido Deck was not least expensive. And, actually, it was the most expensive. Apparently confused, she asked me why they weren't the same rate since they were all still inside cabins. So I explained that the cruiselines charge more for the higher decks. She indicated that she did not know this. Since she was not willing to pay more, we had to stay where she was in order to get the least expensive rate, and hope for an upgrade. Still, she insisted she did not want the lowest deck, but was not willing to pay anymore. Of course, this created a dilemma because the cheapest are usually the lowest. However, a few days later, I told her that Princess was again running another special. This special offered several inside categories at the same rate, based on availability. At the time, category I was the best available. We changed her to a category I. In addition, we discounted her $112.01 off the cruiseline's rate for the cabin. (Princ. rate was $1622 with all ports and taxes, we charged $1510.) Since our total agency com. was $131.70 before the discount, this left an agency profit of just $19.69, of which I only receive a portion.
For the next several weeks, the client emailed and called me numerous times, telling me about all of these specials she found on the Internet (from other agencies). I took the time to check each and everyone of them out, and found such things as "ports/taxes" not included, etc. Bottom line, the rates were not better. Then, the client emailed and called more, indicating she read on these posts that there was a $200 onboard credit for some Princess cruises. Of course, I called Princess to check. If they are offering the credits, certainly I want my client to receive these amenities. But, they were not, and I explained this to my client. Then I received yet another email from her indicating another agent was offering the $200 onboard credit. No longer having the time to check out every Internet special she forwarded from other agents, and knowing I could not offer this (since Princess was not offering), I explained to my client that if she found a better deal, it would not upset me if she booked with another agent. Since Princess was not offering this, I could not offer it. Perhaps the other agent had a group with amenities. I never begrudge a client from booking elsewhere if I cannot, for some reason, be competitive. I politely reiterated this to my client, telling her several times that I would not be upset if she booked with a different agent. I truly understand that people work hard for their money and want to get the best rate they can. But, I suggested that if she wanted to book elsewhere, she needed to do it before her final payment date of August 28. After that time, Princess (not me) would impose a penalty, and I did not want her to be hit with that. However, for some reason, she chose not to do so (I don't know why???? If there was a better deal, and she was not under penalty, it made sense for her to book somewhere else if a better deal was, indeed available. So, why didn't she????).
On August 28, she made final payment, and all was quiet for a while. Then, mid-September (around 17th or 18th), she callled telling me Princess had lowered their rates $100 per cabin (down to $1522.01), and asked me to get the new cruiseline rate. I explained that we were already lower, at $1510, because we had discounted her initially $112 off the cabin. She called Princess, and someone told her that the rates had, indeed, dropped $100 off the cabin (down to $1522.01 instead of the original rate of $1622.01). But, again, our rate was already lower. Still, I figured if Princess would lower the rate for us, we can pass along our discount (the $112) off the new rate. And we were certainly willing to do this. As noted above, prior to this, our agency was only left with $19 in commission. But, if Princess lowered the rate, it would work out for everyone. Unfortunately, Princess denied us the lower rate, stating it was for new bookings only. In order to receive the $1522.01 rate, my client would have to cancel, and re-book. If my client canceled, they would be hit with $250pp penalty charges, so it did not make sense to cancel. I explained all of this to my client, who insisted she wanted another $100 off the rate. With only $19 left in commission, we could not do that. After several days of emails and phone calls, she sent me a quote from an Internet agent who, under the "new booking rate" was able to get her rate down below ours by $71, plus $200 onboard credit. (Her complaint posted here indicated a cruise decrease of $271, which is not correct.) Also, for the record, this was for a lower cabin category, not the same category that we booked. As noted above, my client insisted to me from the beginning that she did not want a lower category. Any agent knows that it is certainly possible to beat a previous booking if an agent can book a reduced rate under "new booking only," especially if they go to a lower category. But Princess refused to adjust the rate for our client, and they (Princess) explained to her directly that she could cancel, pay the penalty, and rebook. As one might expect, my client did not want to do that. Still, she wanted me to beat the new rate received from this other agent. Heaven knows I tried, and begged Princess to reduce her rate, but they refused. In her posting complaint of 9/22, the client makes it sound like I never tried, yet she knows I tried. She also indicates that I did not respond to her. This is totally untrue. I work 6 days a week, from 9:00am until 10:00pm. Every email/phone call she ever sent was responded within one hour, unless it was during hours the office was closed. The only exception (only exception) was on 9/22, which was a Saturday. I took the day off. However, on my day off, I was constantly on a cell phone throughout the day (while traveling) trying to beg Princess to lower her rates. Still, they would not. I received the other agent's quote (noted above) at 6:17pm at night on 9/22 while I was out of the office, and I responded at 8:34pm on Sunday night (my normal day off) when I returned to my office. (Are we not entitled to a day or two off?) It was at that time that I told my client that I had again begged Princess, but they refused. However, they did give us an upgrade to a category DD. This is an oceanview 10-category upgrade from her inside cabin that she paid for. In addition, I offered to pay the difference between our agency's quote and the other agent's quote (the $71 for the cheaper inside cabin). This is being paid out of my own pocket, not the agency's. (No agency should be made to match every Internet quote, legitimate or otherwise, especially after a booking is totally paid for and under penalty.) I told her that the only thing we could not do was the $200 onboard credit because Princess would not offer it to us, and Princess said they were not offering it to anyone on that cruise. With only $19 total profit, this is not possible. No doubt, it certainly would have been more economical for us to reduce her rates if that were possible, which it was not. We would have only lost about $10 in reduced commission based on the lower rate (and still made $9 on the booking). Most people, especially agents, know this would have definitely been a better situation than me paying the $71 out of my pocket. The sad thing is that she wants us to match another agent's rate "after the fact." Our rates still remain below the cruiseline's.
Of course, the client didn't mention any of this "detail" in her complaint, nor did she mention that the situation was apparently resolved to her liking in the end. And, the kicker? Yesterday we received an email from the client asking if we could get her upgraded to the Lido Deck!!!
Thank you all for listening. This whole situation has been so very frustrating for me because I have truly done all I could for my client. Sometimes they just don't understand, and I've tried to explain it to her. I am a very honest, hardworking TA, and I'm always willing to give my clients the best rate and service I can. It's because of this that I am so deeply hurt by all the comments many of you have written, suggesting that I be reported to the cruiseline, or the BBB, or CLIA. It's understandable since you did not have all the facts. Never before have I been pushed to tears by a client. I hope in the future, people are not so judgemental without truly knowing the circumstances.
Thanks, again, for allowing me to share the full story.
58: I think a few people made some wrong ASSumptions and will regret they did.Sad to say, but even someone who should be neutral gave bad advice without seeing both sides.I can't say who is right or wrong(nor should i) but the problem does seem alot more clear.CHIN UP!!!!
I used to want to be a TA and I like a good deal.....but I certainly wouldn't have had that much patience!! My temper would have shown up in the other person's comments....you certainly have diplomatic skills which should be compensated better!
Funny after reading all the posts-- I am wondering how many TA's this person has gone through ????? saying that this was going to be cruise #15 for them. Thank you for posting your side of the story. I sort of wonder why they didnt book through the same TA---- I would think after doing that many cruises -- they would have learned some of the ins and outs of booking--wondering at the same time-- if any other TA's lost money / commisson etc just to quite them down--MHO
Take care and Yes I learned something new here too
I think we all owe you a debt of gratitude for such a detailed explanation of how things work between client/TA and cruiseline/TA and the huge amount of work involved for communication on many levels.
We should call it "TA 101".
Many people, and I include myself in that, gave advice or offered opinions based on the information at hand. Only one side of the story was presented and people responded on the basis of what they "knew" from that one side.
That's the nature of bulletin boards.
Nothing was directed at you, personally, and I can't think of a person who wouldn't apologize if you felt that it was.
I am an agent - and I do understand only too well your experience. We often
do alot of work for very little compensation and it is often unfair as clients
don't understand the "business end" of their transaction.
Everyone wants to get the best value for their dollar spent - but too often
folks only measure that value in currency - they fail to compare exactly
what they are purchasing - don't get quotes in writing and take service far
too much for granted. Often this only becomes a reality issue when they
get themselves in trouble with a bad deal and have to go back and look at
what they booked, from whom, how is was booked and what choices they
made that resulted in less then they expected.
I for one support your efforts - hope that you know you are not alone out
If these boards serve any purpose - I would hope that they help to educate
people about our business and the people who invest the time to become
professionals in this industry.
Chin up - remember the rewards of good work and learn from the challenges
we often face :-)))
You must be a very gracious person to put up with such abuse, no one diserves to work for NOTHING. I also am a part time agent, an people don't understand that it is a job, just like theirs, and there isn't a person out there that is willing to work for nothing.
Sometimes you can beat a price sometimes you just can't.
Everyone wants a deal, but Integrity has value. It sounds like you tried your very best.
You went farther than most of us would.
Don't beat yourself up about this one, you already took a loss, don't let your self-esteem take a blow.
You are to be congratulated for trying so hard.
Maybe this has taught us all to hear both sides before we leap?
Cher, part time agent, Thursday Night Chat Host, and full time cruise lover!
Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to write. Your comments have made me feel somewhat vindicated. Unfortunately, the client has posted her complaint in several venues at this website, and probably others, not to mention the one submitted on record at the cruiseline. Sadly, they are fully aware of the situation, but maintain that it's an agent's problem to deal with their client and explain the "new booking only" policy. Of course, they do not want to lose $100 in revenue. Funny thing...the ship was actually full up until the time of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Because of that, some cabins opened up. The cruiseline lowered the rates to fill them back up. No doubt, they've lost substantial revenue. As such, they are willing to take a beating with the lower rates, but on a new booking status only. Imagaine if everyone already on the ship wanted their rate reduced? Princess would surely take a beating. And, the saddest thing of all...the cruiseline has just reduced their rates once again, for NEW bookings only. Anticipating yet another wave of pressure calls from my client, I've already contacted the cruiseline to see if there is anything we can do, and was told absolutely, positively not! New bookings only. My hands are tied.
To those of you who wondered why we took so little in commission....well, that's another story. I figured my posting was long enough. Suffice it to say, it was necessary to please our client and we did all that we could to offer the best rate and service possible. As the old saying goes, "You can please some of the people some of the time....."
I owe you an apology for my response to the original posting. You must have the patience of a saint to have put up with as much as you did from this woman. All that hassle for $9.00. You're a better person than I am.
Everybody deserves a decent wage and you certainly have gone beyond the call of duty. In fact as you say, you gave her choices and it us unfair to keep on chasing what looks like the next change in rate.
All you can do is treat your customer as you would want to be treated and sometimes one just has to let go.
Your "client" sounds like a real pain in the ass! I know the type....people who want YOU to pay THEM to cruise. People who wouldn't know good service if it hit them in the face. People who read a few cruise B.B.'s are suddenly "experts" and know your job better than you. People like your "client' have no integrity. Doesn't matter that everyone at Princess or your agency think your "client" is a giant pain....all they know is they "saved" a buck! CHEAP people with BIG mouths! NOBODY should book for that kind of commission.
Thanks TA58 for a very informative statement. Everyone wants a deal, but we never know how to recognize it when we get it. I saw her thread on cruise critic, and I think it might be good if you posted your message both places. I know that I have caused my current travel agent work, and I have also, told her how much I have appreciated it. I think she is willing to keep me as a customer ;-)
I am sorry that you have had to go thru so much HE double hockey sticks because of this person. I admire your attempt to satisfy her by paying money out of your own pocket, but hope you have learned your lesson. Never pay for something that has no value. Your instincts were good you just need to be more forceful. For example... Hi I am glad you gave me that internet special. I have just transferred your cruise over to the ABC internet company. Don't call me again... I have caller ID... I know who you are!
Thank you Agent 58!! If I didn't have a wonderful TA already, I would be trying to book through you. As many have said, we can only respond to what is said here but I think we are all smart enough to know there has to be WAY more than what is told here. Hang in there!!