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Old December 1st, 2003, 12:36 PM
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Default Incompetent Travel Agents

Reading horror stories online along with reading advertisements in Cruise Travel (and other print media), makes it very clear that there are an abundance of incompetent TAs running around. Look at the ads in CT and you can see that anyone can become a TA. Having had problems with a TA before, I think we are all foolish to think that someone who calls themselves a "cruise specialist" that isn't an Master Cruise Counselor (or at least an Accredited Cruise Counselor) is telling the truth. I am not trying to recommend one travel agent (or agency) over another. I am just "griping" about the fact that there are a number of travel agents that call themselves "cruise specialists" that certainly fall short of being competent; let alone specialists.

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Post Edited (12-01-03 14:02)
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Old December 1st, 2003, 01:04 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Marc, how true you speak!

It makes me sick when you read posts from freaked out people who are cruising in a week and just found out they must have a birth certificate and driver's license. The friggin' TA's ought to be telling them everything they need long before this. Argggghhh! It really gripes my butt when I see people so distraught just before they are suppose to embark on the best vacation of their lives.

Regards,
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Old December 1st, 2003, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

I like the post where they specifically booked a cabin with no upper berth or bunk beds, and of course the catagory they booked, is just that. Before I book I do a little research and know what the set up is way before I book, so that will never happen to me, but when you have a travel agent supposedly tell you there will not be any uppers, and the entire catagory is that, something is not right and that should not happen.

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Old December 1st, 2003, 05:11 PM
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Default Re: Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Of course incompetent agents are a no brainer complaint. They put singles onboard ships and cruises with the geriatric crowd, put the cane and wheelchair crowd on itineraries with 100% tendering in rough seas and other such nonsense. Figuring that as a problem , along with bad communication of details and bad follow up is a no brainer. But a very valid and important complaint and common problem.

Part of the problem is using on line agents and 800 number agents. You are dealing perhaps with Companies with great buying power but often with clerks at best who are processing your order. There is no personal face to face or phone contact and all those little things are left out and maybe, just maybe you got a good price. But to what end if it is on the wrong line, wrong ship, wrong itinerary , wrong accomadation and you don't have al the right paprwork at the pier?
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Old December 1st, 2003, 07:43 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Marc is so right re/ some T.A.'s but people themselves should take the time to learn a little about their vacation prior to plopping down their money. One of the best things one can get is a brochure from the cruise lines. They have a wealth of information if one would only study them. How many times do you see posts from people who obviously never even looked at a brochure or got any information at all except what their " T.A." told them?
Maybe I'm old fashioned but I figure it's my money and I'm going to know something about what I'm doing, not just take someones word, before I shell out a good chunk of it.

Post Edited (12-01-03 19:44)
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Old December 2nd, 2003, 12:34 AM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

And how many times are passengers insisting on booking certain itineraries and ships and cabins despite warnings from their TA's? This is a two way street....I do have to say that competent TA's would advise their customers of all that they should need, but if the customers are not forthcoming with everything, TA's are not clairvoyant! I agree with the last poster that it is MY money that I am plopping down, and I want to know what is what, so I do the research!

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Old December 2nd, 2003, 03:20 AM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Thank you Lisa.....It's true it is a two-way street...as a Former Cruise Specialist....I won't take what poster's are saying on here, personal. When I was an agent I put my heart into it......Qualifying my clients and making sure that they had the trip of a life time. I myself have been disturbed since I am no longer in the business. I've been trying to find an agent that cared that I was making my reservation with them...and alas I will be making my own arrangements from now on. So it will be smooth sailing.lol

I am going on a cruise in a week. I booked it in July. I gave $500 dp and then the end of August gave final payment. Received paid in full invoice. The middle of October I had a question late in the evening called the cruise line and they couldn't help and advised me to call my agent in the morning...long story short my agent called me and said that my booking was ready to cancel for non-payment and that she had never received fax from cruise line stating that my card didn't go through. I know that the cruise line will always fax when payment was denied. She never apologized for transposing the credit card numbers. I will not do business with this company ever again.Sure they're rates were great...in my book though customer service comes first.....this isn't the only thing that's happened...I'm still waiting for my documents....less then a week away from sailing!

Does Anyone have an agent that they LOVE?????
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Old December 2nd, 2003, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

I have worked on military installations for the past 14 years. I have booked most of my travel through SATO, and have NEVER once had a problem. My last 2 cruises(2002 and 2003) went off without a hitch. The TA's I have dealt with have been nothing but professional. Don't know if it is SATO, or just plain lucky getting someone that knows what they are doing.

I just booked my 2004 cruise directly through Carnival. Let's hope I can say the same about them after I return.

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Old December 2nd, 2003, 02:54 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

I wish that the cruise lines would stomp on those company's that take thousands of dollars from folks, then let those people claim to be travel agents.
It has become a flood gate business since the airlines stopped paying commissions, everyone has flocked to the cruise industry because commissions are still available....Yes, I know, tours, hotels, cars stillpay commission, but the higher $$$$ come from multi-thousand dollar bookings...cruises.

We found a company, via the internet, that is only a few miles from our home and they have been just great! The staff is trained, the staff is friendly, there is no request too small!

Like others have said, it is our money, be cautious who you let handle it!
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Old December 2nd, 2003, 06:19 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

My TA has been nothing but pleasant, but a few little "glitches" have made me worry. When I received my bank statement that had my final payment to Carnival last month, I noticed that the amount was $40 CHEAPER than what the TA had quoted me. I called to ask and (as usual) she was out of the office for a week (cruising, I hope.....). Her assistant looked into it and pronounced I should take it for face value and enjoy the $40 unexpected surprise.

I hadn't noticed that later on in the statement was a separate $40 charge from my TA for "adminisrative charges." It's okay with me to pay my TA $40, but that her asst. didn't know to tell me where that $40 was "hiding" made me nervous.

I'm hoping my docs will show up on time and that everything is in order.

I'm someone who does intense research into ANYTHING in which I am interested and cruising is no exception. By the time I had booked my cruise I had been on this and other messages boards for a month, had brochures from 6 major cruise lines, had talked in person with a number of cruisers, read 3 or 4 books about cruising and...you get the picture.

Yes, it sounds as though there are some bad TA's out there (and good ones!), but even with a TA, you are ultimately responsible for your own trip. Or at least *I* feel that way. And hey.....I've enjoyed the research! Of course the bad news is........I have cruise fever!!

dorothy

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Old December 2nd, 2003, 09:30 PM
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Default Re: Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

I'm sure there are some bad TA's, but as someone who's been in customer service for years I can tell you there are plenty of people who will not remember vital information that you've given them, and been very specific about its importance.

That said I also think people are responsible for making sure they have as much information as possible. I booked my first cruise myself online, and beforehand I researched all the ships and ports, read reviews about all this ships, visited the cruiselines websites etc. I felt like I was well prepared and knew what I was getting into. Since booking I have done more research, and I find maybe I didn't get the best price, but it's ok, and we got the cabin, ship and destinations we want.

I feel well prepared, know what I need and don't need, and I know we'll have fun.

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Old December 3rd, 2003, 05:41 AM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Yes ...everyone is responsible for they're own trip....however....It has to work at both ends for it to work with out incident...I can tell you I did my own homework on my own cruise this week...
When I was a agent my quota on a average was around 100k a month so I had a extensive client base with a lot of responsiblity making sure I did my job so they could travel with out stress.

I think it's easier if you know all the ends and outs just to do your own reservations that way one can be responsible for they're own planning!
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Old December 3rd, 2003, 12:44 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

as a former TA i couldn't agree with you more. There are some folks and agencies who claim to be "agents" when they are no more than order-processing clerks. One big thing to look for is ASTA certification(American Society of Travel Agents) and check with the BBB before picking a TA. I use TA for the personal service and the convenience. I like knowing the person face to face who i am giving my hard-earned money to. I like picking up the phone and talking to the same person all the time, someone who will answer my questions and not give me the royal run-around.
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Old December 3rd, 2003, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Thanks Lisa for your feedback....I appreciate it and agree with what you have stated, especially in regards to the ASTA Cert. Also, one nice thing about dealing face to face is that they can't get away from you. It's on a more personal level.
When my company was sinking (another dot.com company) they were hiring nice people with no experience. It was my worst nightmare trying to consol them and give them guidance. Crossing my fingers that not to many incidents would happen. It was pretty scary. I felt bad for them.. to be hired for a position that the management told them that they we're qualified for.

I'm leaving for my cruise today. Departure is Sunday! What do you know dox's came in today. 4 days before sailing. Oh...well better late then never.

Bon Voyage!
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Old December 5th, 2003, 12:43 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

My gripe is that when your "personal agent" is away from the office for days (or weeks ) at a time, the other "agents" refuse to answer your questions or deal with your problem.
I will be looking for a new agency in late 2004 (for 2005 cruises) because of this trend in the gency with whom I have 3 cruises booked for 2004. My agent always seems to be away when needed.

Another scary thing is insurance. I paid insurance in October for a cruise in Jan. when I did not receive a confirmation or policy number I called my agent who told me - very cheerfully "you do not need a confirmation or policy number, you have paid so you are covered" !!!!!!!!! I explained that as an experienced traveler I KNEW that I did need a "number " for the coverage and a phone number to call should the need arise. Finally she agreed to send me "an E mail" This did in fact contain a policy number and a contact phone number. - the interesting thing about the whole incident was that the cost of the insurance nearly $200 was listed on the invoice as "agents fee" HMHMMMM?
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Old December 8th, 2003, 06:12 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Marc:

As has been said before, a lot of former TAs are now "Cruise Specialists" as cruise lines are about the only travel providers paying decent (or any) commissions. My criteria for considering a TA (whatever they are called) acceptable are two: First, I want to be able to call the agency and speak to the same person each time --- or ONE designated replacement if that person is out of the office. Second, I want an agency that has a "track record" with the line or lines I use. As you know, I usually cruise Radisson, and have a TA that does much business with them. I'm satisfied. But I was asked recently about who would be a good TA for NCL, and I responded that I hadn't a clue, because my agent does no business with them and all my agent would say to this is "don't."

Thanks,
Richard
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Old December 9th, 2003, 03:52 PM
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Default competent Travel Agents

MY T/A can beat up your T/A any day of the week. At least it seems he can.
I looked long and hard for the perfect travel agent, went through 4 or 5 before
I found the right one. He used to be with T.W.A. and then T.W.E., but moved back home
a few years ago. I have been sailing with him & through him for about 10 years now &
never a problem that wasn't taken care of before it became a PROBLEM.
Glitches happen. The key is to find someone who handles glitches well.
We are booked for next september on the Conquest, just got back from the Rhapsody.
Happy Sailing
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Old December 9th, 2003, 04:23 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

incompetent TA's? really?

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Old December 17th, 2003, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Over a thousand years ago when I was a travel agent....

I had the good fortune to learn my skills under the tutelage of a real taksmaster who left little or nothing to chance. Because I learned in the days when you actually had to know how to use an OAG and write a ticket and use a tariff and book a tour (remember the CATM?), there lots of things that we did as both (1) a safeguard for the traveler and (2) and evidential trail for us.

We did a lot of the tailor-made travel (FIT) and that was a real process:
Went through each level of documentation requirement and created a log.
Copied and recorded each of the tickets (air, tour, train, etc.)
Provided a checklist (hand-made for EACH traveler) that compared their PROVEN documentation with our checklist and then had them sign-off that all was well.
That gave us both the reassurance that all we could do to remove hassles had indeed been done.

When airline fares became so goofy (which was just a hair before deregulation), we would carefully identify all of the penalties, etc., booking actions, airline contact numbers and foreign sales offices (and consular contacts, etc.). For us, the whole business of travel was more of a "trust". People depended on us to KNOW what to do.

I also wish I could find someone now, but more often than not, I find that information is either completely wrong or is given so haphazardly that I end up checking it a second time anyway. So I do a great deal of my own. The kind of hand-holding that was the standard when I learned the business doesn't seem to exist in my current experience. I'm sure it still does for someone, just not for me.

Fortunately, the world of computers has become so sophisticated that at least we have an amazing amount of quick access to the same kinds of information. That levels out the field a bit. It is much more reasonable to hold people accountable for their own experience. The information that used to be only in the sacred texts is now freely available for anyone who wants to do a little research and legwork.

I guess it's all in what matters to the individual. Personally, Ilike seeing the homework taken care of so that there is less mucking around during the actual experience. And, if there is a problem, knowledge seems to be the best defense.

Just My Opinion .. interesting thread.

Cheers, Steve
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Old December 17th, 2003, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Quick short & sweet response. I work part time as a home based cruise consultant.
Before getting into the industry I used a few different agents that did their job but had no
followup skills. I am not an expert, still learning but every client so far has loved my service. Maybe if consumers didnt shop 20 agents to save a dollar they would find the right person for them
Enough said
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Old December 18th, 2003, 03:23 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Heck, I didn't shop 20 agents to save a buck, I shopped for someone that a) would actually return my phone call the same day - lots didn't; b) seemed to have even a VAGUE idea what they were doing (many didn't) and c) seemed interested in having me as a client. I was surprised of the number of TA's out there who seemed just plain disinterested. Maybe if I had been booking a more expensive cruise with a large group? Who knows?

Anyway, I would LOVE to find an agent who seemed to know his/her stuff. I can more than likely get the same rates myself online. I just want good service and good back-up if there is a problem. Even if you pay a little more with an agent, it's worth it in my book for possible future problems.

dorothy
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Old December 19th, 2003, 01:07 PM
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Default Re: Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Don't know if booking a large group would be enough either Dorothy. I tried to book our family reunion cruise on the Fantasy back in June with my regular TA and asked all the people in the group to book with him too. After they all did, we found rates dropping and much better than he quoted. I gave him an opportunity to match, or closely match, the online prices we found. He was as much as $120 more per person for this four day cruise and he told me he would have to cut his commission to zero to do it. So we booked through an online dot-com instead.

Now maybe he would've made $0 on this cruise, but he would've picked up 16 new customers for future cruises. Instead, he lost me.

Regards,
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Old December 19th, 2003, 09:04 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Sigh! Unfortunately Thomas, I keep hearing versions of your story over and over from folks. I just *know* there are good TA's out there and I would really like to find one! My TA is pleasant enough, and she *did* come up with a pretty good rate, but I just felt a little uneasy that I knew some things she didn't - a me a novice cruiser!!

Your TA is just plain stupid to have lost that much potential future business.

dorothy

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Old December 24th, 2003, 01:07 AM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Or you could look at it this way if you really appreciated your T.A and his work would you really want to have them match/or almost match a rate to end up with zero commission and not make a dime off of it...I seriously doubt that you have any idea of how much time and effort that goes into booking a large group even if it is only a 4 day cruise. I agree with how your T.A. handled it. He has to live off of his commission and if he doesn't have any coming in then what would he do?

My clients that I worked with saw rates go down and I would always do my best. Sometimes I could match sometimes not. They always stayed with me because of my service. Although I had one client that would call me first and if I couldn't come close I would tell him to book it with the other agency. Honestly it was easier this way(as I knew he always came to me first) then spending my time and effort to book something that I wasn't making any money on. To put it simply "Time is Money"!


Chloe
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Old December 24th, 2003, 08:04 AM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

I understand what you're saying, and what I'm hearing is you are interested in the short term gain, not the long term business. When I've used my TA in the past he has always been able to compete with the others. If his price is $25 or so more, I don't care. I will book through him anyway. But at $120 more per person that's too much for me. If he had offered pricing at $20 more then he would have gotten the booking for 16 people.

In my business sometimes a customer wants to return a dinner because they didn't like it. O.K., it was prepared correctly and the product quality is good, so there was no mistake on our part. You ordered it, we served it. Just because you don't like the flavoring should we take it off your bill. Probably not, but we do. The way I see it, I'll take back that $15 dinner because if I make you happy you'll spend maybe $3000 over your lifetime in my place. I'll certainly make that trade.

All I can say is, he made a business decision that cost him a long term customer (me) and a bunch of future customers. It's his choice.

Regards,
Thomas
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Old December 24th, 2003, 08:33 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

I don't know Chloe...I think Iprobably *do* understand how much time and effort goes into booking a group. I was an event planner (in my working life BEFORE my son was born) and planned day events and weekend trips for groups all the time. I am pleased to do business with *anyone* who works hard!

I don't think Thomas is doubting that his TA worked hard, only that he made a bad decision for future business.

I'm willing to pay a little more for a cruise so that I can get good, personalized service from a TA, but $120 per person more? Don't think so....

dorothy

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Old December 27th, 2003, 09:35 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

Actually... Dorothy I'm sorry until you've been in the Travel Industry you can't really say that you understand...It's like saying you've walked in my shoes when you haven't.

And... I quote from my above response....."Match a rate to end up with ZERO commission ". Didn't mean that I would not do my best to work with them.. ...To be successful...as a "Cruise Expert" you should do as much as possible. Even if I wanted to match rate with no comm. my superiors would never allow me to do spend timeless hours on a group and not be paid. This situation had came up often with the rates dropping(Although my company was a top agency with all the cruise lines ). (Those other companies pay hourly to Customer Service Reps not comm. (i.e. not Cruise Experts), with my clients and never once did they try to convince me that I should EVER slash my comm.to zero to meet they're needs. However I would work with them on the numbers. They new that my service was invaluable in this industry. As I was always there for them. They trusted my judgment on giving them the Cruise(s) that they so enjoyed without having any stress. That... plus everything else was worth it's wait in gold to them. Or... I wouldn't of had referral's every week asking me to make their travel arrangements.

Maybe I'm tooting my own horn...that's ok...since I'm VERY proud of the service I gave my clients... Without having to compromise my own life.

Chloe
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Old December 29th, 2003, 08:09 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

No one was suggesting Thomas' TA should get ZERO commission. But she chose to charge $120 more per person. She could have cut her commission, but chose not to, which in my book is bad for business. Obviously, Thomas is taking his business elsewhere.

As he said: Short term gain, long term loss.

Yes, of course, ALL businesses are unique in some way, but serving customers is serving customers, whether it is hamburgers at McDonald's or cruises. If you don't take your customers desires into consideration, don't have good instincts about when to deal or not, then you run the risk of losing a customer.

Didn't mean to make you defensive, Chloe. I'm glad there are good, hardworking TA's like you out there. Unfortunately, I get the feeling there are too few....

dorothy

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Old December 30th, 2003, 07:13 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

If you continue to insist that any charge for services rendered be reduced as much as possible, sooner or later you end up with...Wal-Mart. Yeah, that's what I want, 20 check-out lanes, 2 actually open. I don't mind paying a little extra for personalized service. It's like having my own express lane.

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Old December 31st, 2003, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: Incompetent Travel Agents

And that's what I love about free market economics. I was a loyal customer of a business until the values were no longer worth the price. I moved on and apparently the TA was glad I did. That's the way it's suppose to work.

It's always about what it's worth to YOU! If you just had a steak dinner and spent your week's salary on it then that $10 hamburger is probably not worth $10 to you, but if you have tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket and just came in from the boonies with nothing to eat for 3 days then that hamburger may be worth it. Same hamburger, same price, just different value to different customers.

Regards,
Thomas
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