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FrankieSue

Shop card vs shipboard credits

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My understanding from the TAs at the big box store is that the OBC that used to be offered was a portion of the commission they received from HAL.  So now they are providing a store credit rather than a ship credit.  Makes sense that they would want some of that money back in the form of purchases.  Of course, business sense doesn't always equate to customer service as we're all aware.  For HAL, makes things easier not having to track and account for these substantial amounts of money, so easy-peasy for them.  Not sure if the bigwigs thought the Canadian vs US credit difference through, or maybe they did and found the aforementioned 30% loss to them unacceptable.  I don't blame Canadians for fleeing from this regime change.

 

For me, my 7 December cruise in a week booked months ago is still offering the same value on a dummy booking, only in the form of a "Shop Card".  So, as mentioned above, I buy toilet paper rather than drinks.  I will see if the change is immediate or if they are honoring already booked cruises that provided OBC.

 

What I wonder about is whether the "Shop Card" has an expiration date; this would not be acceptable to me, no matter the amount of the card.  So long as it doesn't, as I live within 5 miles of one of the stores, I don't see any problems.  If they begin to drop the amount of credit provided though, I'll look elsewhere.  But for now, my 2 cruises booked through them are offering the same credit value and that makes it a wash for me in the end.

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1 hour ago, 0bnxshs said:

My understanding from the TAs at the big box store is that the OBC that used to be offered was a portion of the commission they received from HAL.  So now they are providing a store credit rather than a ship credit.  Makes sense that they would want some of that money back in the form of purchases.  Of course, business sense doesn't always equate to customer service as we're all aware.  For HAL, makes things easier not having to track and account for these substantial amounts of money, so easy-peasy for them.  Not sure if the bigwigs thought the Canadian vs US credit difference through, or maybe they did and found the aforementioned 30% loss to them unacceptable.  I don't blame Canadians for fleeing from this regime change.

 

 

What I wonder about is whether the "Shop Card" has an expiration date; this would not be acceptable to me, no matter the amount of the card.  So long as it doesn't, as I live within 5 miles of one of the stores, I don't see any problems.  If they begin to drop the amount of credit provided though, I'll look elsewhere.  But for now, my 2 cruises booked through them are offering the same credit value and that makes it a wash for me in the end.

 

Store gift cards cannot expire per a law that changed a while ago. So that is not an issue. it does reduce the value of the money you get since you'd get 2% back for charging the purchase that you now will use the Shop card for.

 

As for making it easier for HAL, I can't see that being a big deal. All the other TA's who give OBC will continue to do so  and the HAL systems are set up to handle to purchase of said OBC. For the big-box store, this means that instead of having their computer send OBC to HAL's computer, they will have to mail cards out. However, the big win for them is that you need to spend the money there, plus some people may not use the credit or may take months or longer to use it, so at some point it may be beneficial to them financially (although I think they need to show outstanding debit cards as a liability so may it won't help them financially).

 

I do not use them t book travel but if I did, this would certainly make me look elsewhere. Other TA's can offer to give their booking incentive in cash, and at least one pays even more than Costco.

Edited by MisterBill99

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If I get a shop card for my upcoming cruise it will cover about 4 tanks of gas, or 2 visits inside.
 

But if it was an amount like we got on our Prinsendam cruise, that is a different story. I can see where a retired couple who takes long cruises could have a challenge using the shop card with hundreds, or thousands of dollars on it. Just the quantities you would end up buying would be a problem. Add to that, not being home to use it.  (We go for months on 1 of their TP packages, and many times fresh food end up spoiling before we eat it.)

Edited by TiogaCruiser

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57 minutes ago, MisterBill99 said:

 

Store gift cards cannot expire per a law that changed a while ago. So that is not an issue. it does reduce the value of the money you get since you'd get 2% back for charging the purchase that you now will use the Shop card for.

 

As for making it easier for HAL, I can't see that being a big deal. All the other TA's who give OBC will continue to do so  and the HAL systems are set up to handle to purchase of said OBC. For the big-box store, this means that instead of having their computer send OBC to HAL's computer, they will have to mail cards out. However, the big win for them is that you need to spend the money there, plus some people may not use the credit or may take months or longer to use it, so at some point it may be beneficial to them financially (although I think they need to show outstanding debit cards as a liability so may it won't help them financially).

 

I do not use them t book travel but if I did, this would certainly make me look elsewhere. Other TA's can offer to give their booking incentive in cash, and at least one pays even more than Costco.

I agree with you in general with a few exceptions:

  • You are assuming I'm a business-level member and get 2% back on purchases, in which case method of payment doesn't matter as it's tied to the membership number. 
  • HAL is known for losing track of Shareholder's Benefits, OBC and other such things, by me personally and recently.
  • Gift cards can in fact expire after 5 years and be charged inactivity fees.  See this link.
  • Do we know that they mail cards or just send email certificates?

Incentives vary by agency, cruise line and even the cruise itself.  Agencies that sell beaucoup cruises for a particular line get better incentives; some specialize in certain lines and not others.  One of the other big box stores just doesn't sell enough cruises on HAL to offer what the one we're talking about does, again from personal experience, but does offer nicer incentives on other lines.

Edited by 0bnxshs

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14 minutes ago, 0bnxshs said:

I agree with you in general with a few exceptions:

  • You are assuming I'm a business-level member and get 2% back on purchases, in which case method of payment doesn't matter as it's tied to the membership number. 

 

Don't have time to respond to everything but wanted to address this point. The 2% I was referring to was the rebate for using your store credit card, which gives a 2% rebate on store purchases. The 2% Executive Member rebate would work no matter how you pay.

 

If you Google the store's name and Shop Card you will see that they do not expire and highly doubt they have an inactivity fee.

Edited by MisterBill99

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A couple of things:

  • The big-box site says "Balances cannot be applied as payments to any account or redeemed for cash, except as required by law", so you're stuck spending it in the warehouse.
  • "...the card may be used only for making purchases of merchandise or gasoline at any NNN location in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada, or on NNN.com and NNN.ca". What are those who are outside the U.S. and Canada getting instead of OBC?
  • The Shop card appears to be the only pre-paid card offered.
  • I think that in California, the issuer cannot charge an inactivity fee.

We have three voyages with the big-box as the TA, and all three still show the full OBC offered when we booked (one was direct through them, the other two through the FCC on board). However, if you try to book now, all three now show only the Shop card as the benefit, although the amount appears to be about the same (can't tell precisely, since fares have changed since we booked).

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8 minutes ago, kwb101 said:

What are those who are outside the U.S. and Canada getting instead of OBC?

 

There are restrictions to bookings made for those who don’t reside in the US or Canada.

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We have our Europe cruise on HAL booked with the big  box office with a lot of OBC.  Being Canadian this OBC in US funds is a big deal.  We are currently  in San Diego and will board the Oosterdam for 2 weeks and will call when back.  I certainly hope they still honour anyone that has been booked prior to this change.  It’s a game changer for us as we will shop around even more next time. 

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So I’m wondering if this is just a change between HAL and the BigBox, or if we’ll be seeing the same with HAL and other TAs,  or between the BigBox and other lines.

 

And it would be more palatable if the shop card credit could at least be used for a future cruise.  

 

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I've been told by a TA that different cruise lines have different rules.  Some allow a discount.  Some only allow OBC.  A few require a 'rebate'.  It sounds like this 'shop card' fits the TA definition of a 'rebate'.  A rebate is like a discount but is paid after the cruise.   The TA also said, cruise lines cannot prohibit rebates as they are paid out of TA funds and the TA can cut a check to any one they please.

 

Really doesn't matter to me.  Discounts, OBC, or rebates.  All reduce the cost of cruising.

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I book the best deal online with the cruise ship, then transfer to big box store, so I get cruise ship OBC, gratuities and whatever else the cruise line included, then they send the cash card  later.  I like the cash cards, I shop there. T

 

I buy a lot a the bb store and prefer the cash card, I prebook my excursions, try to pay for next years cruise before the cash back period ends so I have the cc cash back to use onboard if I want. I don't drink enough to consume the OBC.

 

Cashback cards seem to round down to some number around 8% in 10 or 15 dollar increments.

 

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8 hours ago, wyobean said:

I really don’t understand why it is that big of a deal. If you are using them as a TA then you are certainly a member, so I would assume you shop there. Either way you get the money. One way you buy drinks the other you buy toilet paper.....

As Alberta Quilter explained, we, Canadians, lose 30% with this change; plus for me, I look at ways to discount the price of the cruise I wish to book.  I can take care of my toilet paper at home. Other large agencies still offer incentives such as OBC and paid tips....  i will look at them for future bookings.

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1 hour ago, AlanF65 said:

I buy a lot a the bb store and prefer the cash card, I prebook my excursions, try to pay for next years cruise before the cash back period ends so I have the cc cash back to use onboard if I want. I don't drink enough to consume the OBC.

 

If you're the sort of person who sees OBC and says "I gotta spend it all" then it will be better for you. if you're the sort who looks at the OBC and their first question is "how much is refundable" and realize that you can get that back in cash, then this is not a good deal. Or if you're the sort who gets the $300 gift card in the mail and says "time for a new TV" or something else you weren't planning to buy, then it's also not a good deal.

 

As you might imagine, I am the person who does not spend refundable OBC unless it's something I really want, so I would not like the cash card.

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Very OT but in the same theme: it will be interesting to see if BigBoxco decides to not offer the  cash Option for the membership spending rebate. I got cash last year.

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It's interesting to note that it just appears to be the Holland cruises. I just checked a Princess cruise and it's still giving OBC. Since both companies are owned by Carnival, you would think it would be the same for both lines.

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14 minutes ago, Radbooks said:

It's interesting to note that it just appears to be the Holland cruises. I just checked a Princess cruise and it's still giving OBC. Since both companies are owned by Carnival, you would think it would be the same for both lines.

Both owned by Carnival Corporation, but operated as separate companies.

 

 

Edited by Shmoo here

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Hmm...maybe time to check Princess cruises again since the change.  On a longer or expensive cruise the OBC from the big store was an incentive for us to book through them especially as a Canadian.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, Radbooks said:

It's interesting to note that it just appears to be the Holland cruises. I just checked a Princess cruise and it's still giving OBC. Since both companies are owned by Carnival, you would think it would be the same for both lines.

 

I checked Celebrity and it was also a gift card.

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14 minutes ago, MisterBill99 said:

 

I checked Celebrity and it was also a gift card.

We just checked our Celebrity cruise booked through the BB store and it's a gift card.  Not real happy about this, but very happy we have/had the OBC for the 65-day cruise we just completed and our upcoming 39-day and 7-day HAL cruises.  I really doubt they will change that OBC to shop cards for cruises booked before Nov. 26.  The shop card isn't the end of the world for us, as we shop often at Costco for anything from eye glasses to TP.

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2 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

We just checked our Celebrity cruise booked through the BB store and it's a gift card.  Not real happy about this, but very happy we have/had the OBC for the 65-day cruise we just completed and our upcoming 39-day and 7-day HAL cruises.  I really doubt they will change that OBC to shop cards for cruises booked before Nov. 26.  The shop card isn't the end of the world for us, as we shop often at Costco for anything from eye glasses to TP.

 

Was it a gift card when you booked it and just hadn't noticed, or was it OBC and has now changed to a gift card for new reservations? If it said OBC when you booked, I'm sure that is what you will get.

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9 minutes ago, MisterBill99 said:

 

Was it a gift card when you booked it and just hadn't noticed, or was it OBC and has now changed to a gift card for new reservations? If it said OBC when you booked, I'm sure that is what you will get.

The Celebrity cruise was always a gift card. The HAL cruises always have said OBC.  All of them have been booked for months. I think HAL is making changes to be like some other cruise lines -- first changing the wine policy and now this...😞

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15 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

The Celebrity cruise was always a gift card. The HAL cruises always have said OBC.  All of them have been booked for months. I think HAL is making changes to be like some other cruise lines -- first changing the wine policy and now this...😞

Has there been a recent wine policy change?

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2 hours ago, TiogaCruiser said:

Has there been a recent wine policy change?

No, not recent.  I think it's been a couple years since HAL changed the policy of allowing us to bring on unlimited wine.  

Since then they've changed the policy of allowing transfers of bookings to TA's  up until final payment to the current policy that transfers have to be made within the first 60 days after booking.  And now this.  Other cruise lines like Celebrity had these same policies before HAL.

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5 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

No, not recent.  I think it's been a couple years since HAL changed the policy of allowing us to bring on unlimited wine.  

 

There wasn't any corkage fee previously for the wine bottles over one per person?

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17 minutes ago, I like vacation said:

There wasn't any corkage fee previously for the wine bottles over one per person?

When we could bring unlimited wine on board there was no corkage fee if the wine was consumed in your cabin. In other words you could bring a case or more and there was no corkage fee if consumed in your cabin.  Otherwise there was the $18 corkage fee.  (I just did a search and it has been 5 years since the change in policy, not 2 as I guessed earlier in this thread). 

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