Do cruise-booking web sites every 'fudge"?

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Dec 26th, 2003, 07:04 AM
  #1
esd
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Do cruise-booking web sites every 'fudge"?

I like to surf and everyday I check icruise's 'last minute specials'. Well, Tuesday I saw a 7 day J category, the end of January, for $120 plus PT++ of $194 = a very good deal! (And this had just appeared because I know it wasn't listed the day before). Anyway, I called my TA who came within a couple of $'s of icruise's Sky specials last year to see if you could find this rate as I'd rather book through her. She couldn't and suggested I follow through with icruise because she had a feeling I'd find that this price was gone and be given a higher alternative.
So I did and she was right...it was gone BUT they had a KK for that date for two-and-a-half times as much, plus PT,T&F. And I was told what a WONDERFUL deal the new rate was. I told her the other deal was much more wonderful and that that rate was the only reason we even considered going on a cruise at this time.
Now, several days later they still show J as being available but at a new, much higher rate.
So my question is..is this a standard tactic of web sites? Could they have just had a couple of cabins at that rate which might have been gone before my old fingers could sign on? Or do they post something like that to entice you into getting in touch with them? This is my first online attempt at a reservation, so not only am I disappointed but I am very wary.
Has this happened to other fodorites and is it unusual or par-for-the-course?
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Dec 26th, 2003, 07:06 AM
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esd
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Ooops, meant ever, not every!
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Dec 26th, 2003, 07:45 AM
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ESD:

I believe that the answer to this is no, they don't deliberately "fudge."

Agencies get incorrect price data from cruise lines and their data "middle men" all the time. For example, I would bet you that if you pulled up three random sailings on I-Cruise and looked at the pricing right now, at least one would show that highest inside cabin price is more than the lowest outside cabin price. The systems, to be blunt, don't work very well, and the cruise lines generally take zero responsibility for pricing mistakes--they simply can't afford to.

Now, you might think, you told them it was wrong and they still haven't corrected it--why not? The answer to this is that they can't just fix their own data set, as it will be overwritten by new data coming from the line--or, more likely, one or two intermediate suppliers. In other words, fixing the data at their end would only temporarily fix the problem, so the agencies end up either letting their suppliers know and waiting for a solution, or they just ignore the problem and wait for it so sort itself out.

While "bait and switch" might work if you've trecked all the way to the appliance store or the car dealership, it's not something that's going to be effective over the phone. All it's going to do is annoy customers, and these guys have no wish to do that.

Other times you get this happening is when prices do change on short notice as cabins fill up or group space is sold, or when agents simply make mistakes and quote incorrect pricing. It happens, but I seriously doubt it's ever on purpose. Sure, they might occaisionally upsell somebody to a more expensive package, but nine times out of ten they just make a potential customer not trust them.


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Dec 26th, 2003, 10:28 AM
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ESD ==>

I too like to surf. After several people recommended a site, I went there and found a trip of interest listed as some sort of fabulous special. When I checked with the cruise line, I found the same cabin for some $250 less. And that price was cut even further when I went to another web site.

I don't think online or other TA's deliberately want to "bait and switch" people...not a good way to get repeat business. It just means that the travelling public has to do their homework. No one TA is going to get the perfect deal all the time. It pays to check around.
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Dec 26th, 2003, 01:56 PM
  #5
esd
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Yes, I agree. In fact, 3 days after the fact I got a very nice apology from someone at icruise..saying they were sorry they were unable to confirm my reservation request and that they hope we'll give them another try sometime. I thought that was very nice. I agree that it pays to shop around and I do. However, I like the icruise format better than any other, so I go there a lot. I've looked at that ship (and other sailings from that area) often and had I lucked out, it would have been a very good deal.



Oh, well, better luck next time!
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Dec 26th, 2003, 02:16 PM
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As a travel agent, I get incorrect information all of the time from reps. It is quite frustrating, many travel agents specialize in certain areas, as not everyone can travel to everywhere and know everything. When booking vacations outside of familiar areas in which I have traveled, I have to depend on the info I get from them. It is not done intentionally, but it can drive you crazy espically when you get 3 different answers to the same question. I have asked many cruise questions here, as I am not a cruise specialist...and do not pretend to be. I have found that the people on this board know more than many of the cruise reps do.
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