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Lodging a complaint about a travel agency and it's representative

Lodging a complaint about a travel agency and it's representative

May 3rd, 2010, 02:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1
Lodging a complaint about a travel agency and it's representative

My fiance and I will be traveling to Costa Rica for our honeymoon soon. We've been trying to get the best deals on airfare and lodging. We used Fodor's Costa Rica 2010 to guide us to our first hotel stay, Hotel Presidente, San Jose. The hotel doesn't list a toll-free number on their website, so I Googled toll-free Hotel Presidente. The first number that came up, I called....thinking I was calling the hotel. Oops, it turned out to be Costa Rica Online Travel and I spoke with Sergio Heinfling. He informed me to price Hotel Presidente he would have to contact the hotel directly. Okay he did. He emailed me a rate of $75 per night plus 13% sales tax for a Grand Spa Suite. I only like dealing directly with the hotels and once I realized he was a travel agent I emailed the hotel directly. I told them of my quote with Sergio, even giving his name and information. Never in the past have I had a problem with a hotel matching the price of a competitor. This time was different. Shortly after contacting the hotel I received a nasty little email from Mr. Sergio himself. He told me that thanks to his great friendship with Hotel Presidente he understood I was contacting them "behind his back" and that my fiance and I were screwed. He said we would not be getting that rate through him or the hotel. "Goodluck with that" he finished. The hotel manager was a little more professional but also mentioned this "going behind a travel agents back"....I would assume a hotel would rather do buisness directly with the customer instead of having to pay fees to a travel agent. I was very dissappointed with Mr. Sergio's lack of professionalism and his abruptness to become so defensive. He said it was a waste of his time to book a customer with only one hotel. What I don't understand is how he thought he was getting more out of me than just the one hotel when that's all I contacted him about. Costa Rica Online Travel/ Costa Rica Honeymoon and Hotel Presidente top my crap-list for customer service and representation of the country. We have since found another location at a cheaper rate who have been more than helpful with our planning. My accident phone call turned into a horrible experience.
e_russ is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 131
If you only like dealing with the hotel directly then when you realized you were not speaking with the hotel you should have ended the call with Sergio and done your own rate checking. Travel Agents are in the BUSINESS of booking reservations--not to just be helpful to travelers. Bravo to the Hotel for supporting their relationship with the TA.

That said, congratulations and have a great honeymoon.
1bhcrashman is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 11:09 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
I think this is partly a cultural difference, but of course no one likes to be treated badly. What the original poster did is what is commonly suggested on the boards -- if you find a cheap price somewhere, ask the hotel to match it directly. But now we know that this may not be such a good idea in Costa Rica.
WillTravel is offline  
May 6th, 2010, 08:12 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 24
I believe it is the "buyers" responsibility to know who they are contacting for their reservation. It is usually quite obvious when you look at the site's domain name. If you use an agency website and they do the work for you to make the booking, they will get a commission from the hotel. If you go to the hotel demanding a discount then the agency doesn't get paid. That is not fair to the agency. And it puts the hotel in a bad situation... do they make the client mad who only is one booking, or do they upset the agency that may make dozens or hundreds of bookings each year?
Katie2Travel is offline  
May 6th, 2010, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 325
OP states:

"Never in the past have I had a problem with a hotel matching the price of a competitor."

The agent is not a competitor of the hotel. He gets a referral fee, in effect. Tours and other services are handled the same way. I see that you are irked, but the irkage greatly outweighs the provocation, and it has becomes a new provocation for more irkage. Best to let it go.
Kinkazote is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 12:30 PM
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1
I think your complaint is ridiculous. Did you know that the published rates of that hotel are $100-125+ per night?

The agent was the one who enabled you to call toll free, negotiate a good rate, and make the process easier for you. Plus they send a regular deal flow to the hotel, so in no way would the hotel risk burning a relationship with a good agent just to appease one customer who apparently is rather difficult to deal with. Saying you want to go direct and cutting the agent out of the picture is completely unfair. Its like eating a meal at a restaurant and welching out of the tip. Kudos to the hotel and the agent for sticking to their guns. Travel agents are there to get good better details than retail consumers would be able to get for themselves. Didn't your mother teach you can get what you want with honey rather than vinegar?
Sheila_KeyWest is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 05:04 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,541
When I google Hotel Presidente, San Jose I get the top 2 options of the actual hotel website. No matter. The cost of a Grand Spa Suite there is $165-$175 per night. You were offered a rate of $100 less, which is quite a deal. The travel agent & hotel obviously have an agreement and did nothing wrong.
tully is offline  
May 9th, 2010, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93,125
I also don't understand the complaint. Since you like to deal with hotels directly, you should have done that in the first place (not continued to let a Travel Agent assist you).

Well no, not really, you are likely a 1-time only customer, while the TA and hotel obviously have a long-standing, on-going, mutually-beneficial business arrangement.
suze is offline  
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