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My travel agent has worked on an itinery, but things are not finished, now she is asking for a deposit....

My travel agent has worked on an itinery, but things are not finished, now she is asking for a deposit....

Old Jan 27th, 2004, 08:51 AM
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My travel agent has worked on an itinery, but things are not finished, now she is asking for a deposit....

is this normal? What should I do. I do not want to change travel agents, because we have got alot worked out, but she doesn't deal with all the companies and I want to keep my options open. Help! Thanks.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 08:57 AM
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What is the deposit for? Is it toward a fee you are paying her, or for your flight, accommodations, etc.?
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 09:03 AM
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She is calling the deposit a travel planning fee, she says she will use it towards whatever is booked.
While I have every intention of booking the holiday with her, I am worried she may raise the prices, or steer me towards a more expensive package because of commission.
Also, I have provided her some information about companies I am interested in, and she is unable to deal with some of the companies, because of the organization governing different travel agents.
I do not know what to do.
If I have not been able to find a travel agent who can advise me like she can, also, she has contacts that other travel agents in my area do not seem to know about.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 09:06 AM
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One thing is for sure...regardless of the agency you use, you are going to get charged a fee. So you could switch...but you are going to be charged something similar by another agency. The only way agencies make money these days is by charging a fee, and by commissions from the companies they book you through. They probably want to make sure they are not doing hours of work for nothing. It sounds pretty normal to me. Just my 2 cents.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 09:07 AM
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I worked with an agent once, she never asked for a deposit for our plane/hotel reservations for 2 for travelling overseas. If you feel something is not right, run!! Or start working with another travel agent to compare both.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 09:18 AM
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I have never done any major planning with a travel agent, but I have friends who have, and I also have a couple friends who are travel agents. It is my firm opinion that while back a few years ago, travel agents didn't charge fees but worked off their commissions, those days are over, other than maybe simply booking package tours, cruises, or flights. If this person is doing a lot of planning and checking for you, I would think she is entitled to being paid a fee. Sounds to me like some sort of protection against having someone use them to plan and do all the preliminary checking and then end up not booking anything through them. I can't blame her for a second. The protection part comes from the indication that whatever you pay her will be applied to your purchases through her. If that is the case, what possible reason would you have to not feel comfortable paying it? Or are you in fact considering letting her do the planning and checking and then not booking anything through her?

I think it's unfair to ask a travel professional to do a lot of work and then see if you can get the same thing somewhere else for less money. That's different from just calling them and asking what price they could get you on something specific where you've already done the groundwork and then deciding if their price is what you want to pay or not.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 09:20 AM
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germanblonde-

All agencies are charging for planning fees now...This is the norm..it is to guarentee that you are not picking her/his brain and then do the booking on your own....

This is normal..Pay her the fee and let her finish the work for you...I just did this with my agent on a trip out west..She took tons of time getting things together and she is still not finished...So she is worth every penny for doing the legwork...
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 09:28 AM
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gb.......The "deposit" is indeed an up front fee.Many, not all, travel agencies do this in order to focus on profitable time,thus eliminating the "shoppers" or as my TA calls them, the tirekickers.You pay the fee,the agent does the work, books the trip and deducts the fee form the final cost of the trip.Before beginning to plan my Africa trip, my TA called a major tour company.The tour company wanted a $250 deposit up front and before he gave them any info.....We went to plan "B"!Can you shop around your area for an agent that doesnt charge a fee up front?Thats all I can think of for you to do..
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 09:33 AM
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Can only advise you how our agent handles our international arrangements. AFTER we have agreed on an itinerary, AND after all details have been booked, and confirmed by the agent, AND after we have an agreement from the agent in hand spelling out every last detail, then, and only then do we give a 20% deposit, via credit card - which we can contest should something be amiss, and with balance due 60 days before date of departure. The 20% is normally non-refundable. The agreement spells out whether future price increases could occur, and if so, by what percent.

I'd suggest you be very careful. Your instincts are correct - you may be headed for a problem with that agent. You should pay nothing until all details have been worked out and you have a contract or agreement, something you can point to in any matter of disagreement.
 
Old Jan 27th, 2004, 09:46 AM
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As a part-time TA, I want to thank those of you that have explained things to germanblonde. It is true that fees are becoming the norm as commissions have been cut so drastically and "shoppers" have taken advantage of the TA's time only to go somewhere else.

Please keep in mind that we are a service oriented industry, and our time is spent doing the research for you. That is what you pay for... the service. Why would anyone want to do hours of work for free?

Again, any fees are applied towards the final cost of your trip, provided you stay with the agency that has collected the fee.

Thanks for asking; I hope that your trip goes well and that more people understand the valuable service that they are receiving when they use a travel agent.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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My TA charges a fee but only after arrangements have been made and not before. The fee is added to the final tally. I would not pay if there is any chance I may do business elsewhere. Actually I think it is too late in the ball game to be asking for a fee now. If the TA wanted a fee for his/her work and research it should have been stipulated before the work began.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 10:39 AM
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Perhaps she could give you a breakdown in writing/e-mail of the proposal and what she can and can't do. Some agencies only book cruises, only book land, or air, etc. Just have it crystal clear what your options are and what fees may apply should you wish to back out at anytime.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 11:04 AM
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I don't know what type of itinerary the t/a is working on for you, but t/a's continue to get commissions from hotels. So if she is booking hotels for you, that's where her fee should come from.

Unless your trip is terribly involved, why don't you just book it yourself?
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 11:12 AM
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I think the key question is wether what the TA is doing for you is commissionable or not. If its not, then you need to pay a fee. Otherwise she's doing the work for nothing. As for hotels, typically the chains and the more expensive ones do pay a commission - but in Europe most of the smaller hotels do not. It's getting to the point where a TA is like a financial planner - you have the choice of paying either a fee or a commission - nothing ever comes free - how would she earn a living if it did?
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 11:15 AM
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I would be very concerned about paying for a "fee" that will be applied to your bookings. If the bookings aren't made and the agent goes out of business you have no recourse. On paper you will have paid a fee for services that will appear to have been rendered. The service being the task of researching. If you are paying a deposit for airfare or hotel then the invoice that you pay against should state that very clearly. Any fee paid to the travel agent should be itemized separately.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 11:56 AM
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I wonder about the companies you've told her to check that she "can't do business with". If you are asking her to check discount contractors for you, like Hotels.com or Biddingfortravel or Cheaptickets, etc. then she has gotten the idea (from you) that you will book the trip yourself after she does a lot of leg work. As an ex-travel consultant - even back in the days went airlines still paid commissions - we wouldn't work with a customer under those circumstances. I agree, it is unfair to ask her to make a commitment of her time to you when you are unwilling to make a commitment to her. Pay the fee or do the work yourself. You sound very capable.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 12:46 PM
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I'm also wondering, what are the companies you're interested in that she is "unable to deal with"? I have no problems with paying a fee for a service, but was the fee payment issued addressed in the very beginning or only brought up now? Perhaps she feels that you're just shopping and doesn't want to waste any additional time.
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 12:59 PM
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to Bennie- My agent tells me the fee is $50 to be applied to any bookings I make.If I choose NOT to book, after she has done all the days and days of work, then I owe her the $50..I do not have to pay upfront--but I do owe the money if I choose not to book..at that time, the fee is collected...IN addition,my agent works similar to Jacketwatch's agent...the fee is paid at the end- but I do give her my credit card at the beginning of the conversation...If I book, there is NO fee..If I don't book, there is a fee..I feel this is fair.

To Beachboi-
Amer.Exp and AAA all charge a booking fee for doing independent trips...and so do the smaller mom and pop agencies where I live...How else would they stop people from picking their brains and then going elsewhere..???


To AprilLuv--
Your agent is charging you a deposit of the total cost of your trip...NO agency in the world would charge more than $50- $100 for any trip planning..

To all of you..My agent told me that the US hotels are notorius on not paying their commissions either...and the European ones do NOT pay any commissions...So, my question to you all is this : DO you want to work for free or have to wait over 9 monthes to get paid a 10% commission on a $100 room--that equals waiting 9 monthes for $10...Now, can you understand the reasons for a booking fee?

IN addition, mine does not charge any fees for cruises or all=inclusives as that is just a phone call away .



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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 01:02 PM
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Patty, when I was looking for an agent, I called several places, in one they offered my a 7 or 8 hours layover, I said other airlines may have a better schedule, so the agent said: we have an agreement with this airline only for your destination. Was she too honest Oh, well...
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Old Jan 27th, 2004, 01:04 PM
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Thanks Andy

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