Monday, April 02, 2007

You Tell Me

I am sooooooo mad about this. Am I in the wrong? You tell me.

I used a specific travel agent to book a very expensive trip to Australia a year ago, and also used her to book a very expensive trip to Hawaii this year. When it came time to get info on the Punta Cana trip, naturally, I went to her again. Well, she didn't work much in the Carribean, so she sent me to her employee.

This new woman, I thought, was a bit short with me from the beginning, but whatever. She looked up some info and pricing for us, we thought about it - then put it on hold because I was moving - and then picked it back up again. The price in that timeframe had gone up, so we started comparing things on our own. Irish found a decent price elsewhere, but it was at a different hotel. I said that to be fair, we had to give her the chance to price that hotel, so we could compare apples to apples. She came back with a price that was MORE expensive than what we'd found, but she said if we sent her the info on what we'd found, she could beat it or match it. (My question is, if that's the case, why didn't she quote us that to START with?) Well, I sent her the information, and she sent an email that read "good news! I can get you that price for $$$." So I called USAir vacations (the other source of the good deal) to make sure we were pricing the same flights and such, and they gave me the EXACT SAME PRICE, actually, they did $10 better. So I went ahead and booked it with USAir vacations. Why go through the agent, when I now thought I was being played and I could get the same deal directly?

So I sent her an email explaining that I felt bad, but that these people could beat her deal and we'd book with them directly.

An hour later, I got a call from the agent I'd used to book Australia and Hawaii, basically making me feel guilty about this and chastising me. I stood up for myself and told her that I had every right to book the best deal, and that if this other agent could've gotten me the better deal, she should've done that to start out with, instead of pussyfooting around and quoting me prices that were hundreds higher. If we thought we were getting a good deal, then we wouldn't have even looked elsewhere. Plus, she was putting us on these ridiculously early flights with 5 hour layovers when there were other, equal cost flights that had only an hour layover.

The original agent said that now she doesn't get paid for all that work (we did as much if not more work on this than she did) and that for only $10 difference, we should've booked with her. Implying that I was a bitch and had done this on purpose, "using" this woman. She said normally she charges a $100 deposit to ensure people book with her when she does the work, but since she'd worked with me before, she didn't ask for that. Plus, she'd done some preliminary work on a trip to Greece for me that she didn't get paid for either. I told her that I'd booked 2 very expensive trips through her, that I'd been a good client, and that I didn't think I got a good deal with her coworker. I also told her that I schedule at least one big trip a year, and I didn't want to work with an agent who thought this way of me, or made me feel guilty.

In case you can't tell from the rambling, I'm still kind of perturbed about the whole thing. Should I really have booked with her? If travel agents can't get me a great deal, why work with them? Grrr Argh.


Leanne said...

What I don't understand is either of their attitudes that you work for them, and not the other way around. If someone doesn't do GOOD work, you don't have to hire them for the job.

They both kinda sound like "I'm the boss of you" and blech - for that kind of 'tude I don't blame you for booking it yourself. There are other, better agents out there who know that kindness keeps business.

(just my two cents)


Anonymous said...

I think it's worthy to mention that the travel agent had to go to a 'travel agent only' website that WE had sent her, to get some pricing. Seems like they don't have very good wholesale/vendor relationships. Plus, she kept telling us to hurry up. I don't think this chick did anything but go through the same aggregator sites we did ourselves.

I just read in my travel mag an article about people trying to book extremely luxe vacations and how ultimately, it IS up to the consumer to find the best price! They did a nice little chart on different avenues used for trip pricing and the lowest prices were all over the board (some travel agent sites, some direct hotel reservation lines, some with web sites). In some cases, the savings were thousands. Why wouldn't the consumer have the last word on booking trips?

I'm just happy that we are with an actual company that has an actual 800#, should we need to call them during vacay. Which we will NOT, because we will be extremely tipsy the entire time and probably incapable of correctly dialing a phone!

Geggie said...

I would be soooo ticked, and I think you have every right to be. You can best react by putting your money where your mouth is and not work with them again.

I have to say, I was a little surprised that you even worked with an agency. I didn't realize that people still worked with agencies, because with all of the trips I've booked I can always find a super deal. I've looked at agencies a few times and I can always get a better deal.

You totally have the right to be upset, but you're only 52 days from the beach, so relish in that fact!

Red said...

Travel agents in the US can charge you for doing research?!? And they can call you at home and give you a mouthful about not booking with them?!? You see, this is why I book my holidays online: no middleman, no aggro...

You did the right thing, don't give the agent or her bee-otch another thought, sweetie.

Maribeth said...

You are 100% correct to go where you can get the best deal! Would you go and buy say the first or second house you see with one agent, when you could get basically the same house with another agent for less money? No.
I shop around, whether it is for vacations or food or glasses or clothes. In this day and age, you have to work to get the best prices you can.
Who on earth can afford to pay more than they absolutely have to?

Melli said...

NO! You are paying them for a service - and their service is to get you the best deal! If they don't get you the BEST deal, then they have not earned your patronage! Plain and simple!

Have fun on your trip! GUILT free!

jenn said...

I thought the purpose of using a travel agent was to get the best deal out there, because they have like more access or something to the bargain vacations.

deposit? really? I've never had to pay one. weird, and I'd be ticked too.

Tina said...

Ok. I understand in the very minutest of ways how the travel agent could be pissed. They live pretty much on commission, so I'd be a little POed at spending time adn then not getting the big pay-off. HOWEVER, this is not how one retains customers. Remember the old adage "the customer is always right." SHE works for YOU, not the other way around. If you're not completely satisfied with the service, you have every right to terminate said service. And frankly, if she didn't have the oversight to ask for the $100, that's her whoopsie. I think you were totally within rights to be like "I WAS--big emphasis on was--a loyal customer. However, based on this shoddy experience, I no longer am. So thank you for your time, I won't be needing your services." And for the first travel agent to call you and try to guilt you, so wrong. I would be on the horn to all my friends like "do not use these people." In a business dependant on the amount of sales you do, one should not alienate the individual that possess the almighty buck.

Very strange.

Renee said...

You did the work and you got a better deal with better flights. NO you don't have to pay ms. cranky or feel guilty about it.

We too used a travel agent in the past, but found that we could book better trips on our own directly by using the computer.

I really think the days of using a travel agent are on the way out, they're hurting. I feel sorry for them loosing their job, but if they did the work they are supposed to do (giving you the best travel experience) I'm sure you wouldn't mind paying for their services as you would rather sit back and enjoy the trip instead of doing all the research...right?

Sorry they gave you a hard time. Have a great time, take lots of great pictures, flirt with really cute guys.

Janet said...

I agree with what everyone else has said; time for a new travel agent!!!

Goofy Girl said...

Sounds like they dropped the ball and are angry at the wrong person. I think you should use who you want!

Sparky Duck said...

you should always get the best deal and tell her to sod off. When we booked the trip to Hawaii for the honeymoon, we had to find the flights for ourselves and then the prices were the same through either. So all the travel agent did was book the hotels in Hawaii and the flights to and from. Not bad for us doing half her work.

now, have lotsa margaritas for us.

Nancy said...

Visiting on a Monday!

That travel agent has nerve. She should be kissing your behind as you travel so much. she should have tried to fix the problem and save the business relationship, not screw it up, totally.

One Scrappy Gal said...

I think you did the right thing. You don't owe this travel agent anything. She works for YOU. You did most of the work on your own and yes, it does sound like she was pussyfooting around. Maybe to see if she could get you to pay a higher price than was necessary. Please do not spend one. more. second. feeling annoyed with this whole situation. You are in the right. If this is how they are going to be, I wouldn't even book a trip to the mall with them.

kailani said...

You absolutely did the right thing. First of all, why should you work with someone you don't feel comfortable with? Second, how could that employee be a customer service person with an attitude like that? Third, you are under no obligation to stay with them if they don't provide the service you're looking for.

I could probably go on and on but that's what I think in a nutshell :-)

Amy said...

you absolutely positively should NOT have booked through those snotty people! it's not your fault they don't know how to find the best deal. I think you did the right thing.

Hootin'Anni said...

Your question: Should you have worked with her? Answer: No way in H E double L!!!

You were getting the shaft Carmen, and if they are this way with all clients, then I'm sure they'll be hurting for business.

Personally, I think you did the RIGHT thing. If you let ANYone take advantage of you, then word gets around. This way, now they know that you were upset, and felt you were being treated unfairly ---which you were!----don't fret about it tho. You did the right thing.

Anthony said...

The travel agent was angry because she was "working"? What would she have been doing if she wasn't trying to book your vacation? That's an odd attitude for her to have. I doubt that you were taking her away from anything more important, so I wouldn't feel badly about that.

Second, don't forget that YOU are the customer, and if you can save money by booking it yourself, you have every right to.

Knowing how much traveling you do, I would think that you would get some special treatment. Otherwise, I would tell you to find another travel agent. There are plenty who would love to have your business.

Cheysuli said...

I'm irritated just reading about it. My human is seeing a pattern. A window salesman got pissy with her on the phone when she said she'd leave a message for the human male and the human male never called the salesman back. Then she was yelled at by a fence company salesman because he had an appointment and she knew nothing about this.

In the first case she hung up. In the latter case she slammed the door and said call him at work--but don't expect our business.

Why do companies now seem to think it's okay to treat others with no respect at all?

Anonymous said...

umm can i ask where their customer service actually was? I would dare say up her butt. Stupid cow. You have every right being the customer to go somewhere else if you can get it cheaper. Hell if the chick had done her job right, then you probably would have gone with her. pfffttt I would be equally annoyed. She has NO RIGHT ringing you and harrassing you. Id be a bitch right back and call her manager and fix her little red wagon, because she could have had more business in the future HAD THEY not rang you to make you feel guilty. ACtually whats their number, Ill call em! Ill ring em from Australia and tell em they suck!!!


scribbit said...

Interesting, that's too bad that you've had a bad experience because it sounds like you'll be needing a travel agent frequently. Drives me crazy when you can't find someone you like to work with in those situations--mechanics, hair stylists, dentists, whatever. When you're paying for services you want to feel as if you're getting what you pay for.

Katherine said...

Geesh, you were MORE than nice and within your rights to book on your own. She got caught trying to screw you and you're supposed to feel bad?? I think not!

Teena said...

You were right to not use her. Talk about poor customer service!

Kukka-Maria said...

I'm disappointed, Carmen. "This new woman, I thought, was a bit short with me from the beginning..."

The fact she was vertically-challenged (to put it kindly) should not have been a factor in whether you liked or disliked her.

I crack myself up.

We live in a capitalistic society...survival of the fittest. I think you were right on in making the choice you did and I commend you on being honest and assertive with the agent during the phone call.

Irish Church Lady :) said...

You totally did the right thing! She needs to tune up her agent. If they want the business they'd better earn it.

I agree. I think booking direct is now becoming the popular thing to do.