Thomas Smith is taking a cruise, but he doesn’t feel like celebrating.
The vacation he booked through Celebrity Cruises cost him twice as much as he expected and he’s only getting half of what he was promised, almost literally.
While on board a Celebrity Cruise in June 2015, Smith booked another Celebrity cruise for the following year. He paid the deposit, received a confirmation and had Celebrity transfer the reservation to his travel agent.
When Smith tried to make his final payment, he found that Celebrity had doubled the price of the cruise and removed his onboard credit and promotional drink package.
Smith turned to his travel agent for help.
His travel agent said he had been talking to Celebrity, that it was a “difficult” company to work with, and he wasn’t getting much movement. So, the travel agent recommended that Smith call Celebrity himself for an explanation.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Why hire and pay a commission to a travel agent if you have to do the work yourself to solve a booking problem? And, as anyone who has ever used a travel agent knows, the cruise line will talk only to the travel agent, not to the customer, about the booking.
Smith’s case raises an important question: When you book through an agent, who’s responsible for the details?
The travel agent wasn’t helping Smith, and Celebrity wouldn’t talk to him either. Being between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Smith turned to our help forum.
The verdict of our forum advocates was unanimous: This was absolutely the travel agent’s responsibility to address, and the travel agent knew Celebrity wouldn’t talk to Smith.
Our forum advocates recommended that Smith be persistent with his agent, share the forum comments posted by other travel agents, and have his agent arrange a conference call between Smith, the agent and Celebrity. Smith did so.
The outcome of the conference call was that Celebrity restored Smith’s booking price, onboard credit and promotional drink package. Although it couldn’t be explained, Smith’s reservation in Celebrity’s system did not have a price guarantee. And, Smith found that the Celebrity representatives were not difficult. They were professional and courteous.
Smith is looking forward to the cruise. And he is happy about the resolution, and the help he obtained from our forum in achieving that resolution. But he’s not happy about having to do most of the work himself to obtain the resolution — he made the initial booking himself, and he corrected Celebrity’s pricing error himself.
Once Smith transferred the booking to the travel agent, he gave the agent control over his booking. Smith’s only hindrance in doing all the work himself was the recalcitrant travel agent.
Maybe Smith should find a new travel agent, and maybe Celebrity should pay him the commission, too.