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I booked an October 2020 Journey cruise through a large agency and it was, of course canceled. I opted for the 125% FCC and got the voucher when it was promised. It was, however, for only about 90% of what I’d paid for the cruise. I called Azamara and learned they couldn’t talk to me about it, since I’d booked through an agency. So, I called the agency. They said that my booking had been aggregated with others for a deep discount from Azamara. Thus, the FCC voucher was correct, based on what the agency had paid Azamara. The agency then gave me a cash credit that, with the FCC, came out to close to the full 125%. I wasn’t thrilled, but couldn’t do much about it.

 

       So, last week I called the agency to use both the credit and the FCC for a new booking. They called Azamara to have the FCC voucher applied, and were told that all FCCs are being audited and there was an error with mine. It had been reduced by about a third. No explanation as to why, but with the agency credit, I’m ending up with only about 80% of what I paid for the canceled cruise instead of 125%. I’m out several thousand dollars. Of course, Azamara still won’t talk to me because I booked with an agency. The agency is suggesting that Azamara is responsible.

I’m shocked and disappointed, but I’ll continue to be loyal to Azamara, and to using agents, but will be asking lots more questions before I give them my money.

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I would ask that the agency have Azamara provide them with written documentation of how the FCC was calculated.  Comparing that to your booking confirmation should show where the discrepancy is.  
If you are not successful with the agency obtaining the info I would escalate the issue by writing to Carol Cabezas office.

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If I'm reading your post correctly, it sounds like the agency put you in its group but continued to charge you the published rate?  If that's correct, you have a serious issue with that agency regardless of how the FCC finals works out.

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I do indeed have a serious issue with the agency! They’re absolutely stonewalling me at this point, saying the discrepancy is Azamara’s and resulted from an audit of FCCs before Sycamore takes ownership. The only reason I returned to the agency was because they’re holding the credit they issued.

 I’ve asked for the updated voucher from Azamara and hope that shows how the amount was calculated, though it didn’t show that on the original FCC voucher. I’ve looked at my original invoice and saw that part of my final payment appears as a payment to the agency, not Azamara. If I’d been wise, I would have questioned that then, but the reduced FCC is still not 125% of what appears to have gone to Azamara.

 

I hadn’t thought I’d Carol Cabezas, will try that route. Thanks!

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Boy this is sounding like the TA charged you the going rate, but put you in a group rate they had and would have pocketed the difference had the cruise not been cancelled.  Too bad you can’t name the agency.  

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You should have received a statement from the agency when you made the payment(s). There should be at least two figures on the statement: the cruise fare and the total for port fees, taxes and expenses. The FCC is based only on the cruise fare. It's likely that the TA had a reduced cruise fare because they had reserved a block of cabins at a discount. Also, large TAs often get a kick back from the cruise lines because they make so many reservations. Some pass some of it along to their clients as OBC. It sounds like the TA paid a discounted price for your cabin, and when you complained gave you some of it as an agency credit. Look at the statements you received from the agency and check what it has for the cruise fare. Your FCC should be based on that. If Azamara disagrees, they should be able to give you an explanation of how the FCC was calculated. Don't take no for an answer.

 

You should receive a refund for the port fees, taxes and expenses. The port fees, taxes and expenses would not have been given a group discount. Each cabin must pay a set amount for port fees, taxes and expenses on each cruise, no matter what level of cabin you are in. Because the cruise was cancelled, you should get a refund of the amount for port fees, taxes and expenses.

 

If you need to, ask to speak with the TAs supervisor or manager. Don't take no for an answer.If you need to, tell the TA that if they don't give you a complete accounting and information that you're going to contact the Better Business  Bureau and the state attorney general's office and file a complaint. That might light a fire under them.

 

Good luck and don't give up! It's your hard earned money!

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3 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

If I'm reading your post correctly, it sounds like the agency put you in its group but continued to charge you the published rate?  If that's correct, you have a serious issue with that agency regardless of how the FCC finals works out.

Totally agree!  Sounds to me like the agency took advantage of you and is at fault here. I hope you’re successful in getting compensated properly 

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Sadly agency issues are more prevalent than you think.  The pandemic has revealed the sharp practices of some agencies and particularly some self employed agents who previously worked systems to their advantage without organisation scrutiny. In the good days no one knew.  It never needed to come to light.
As you’ve sailed before you could try and escalate via the LCV ambassador.  They’ve been very helpful as I worked through my agency/missing certificates/wrong amounts/and another very serious breach. 
It’s wrong that agencies don’t automatically  pass certificates back to guests (makes you wonder why, they hope to cover their tracks when you rebook with them by some mischief again?).  It was only when I pushed my problems came to light, they sent an email alleging the amounts and certificates numbers. I wasn’t sure they were right, checked with Azamara and found the certificates did not even exist on Azamaras system.  In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority investigate business behaviour like that as do the Association of British Travel Agents and I’ve lodged the email trail with both of them. 
 Your sad story will I fear happen again and again in the coming year. 
Really hope you get it sorted out, do keep us updated  

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Very sorry to hear of your situation Melissaghoti.  If I was unfortunate as you to be in this position I would simultaneously trigger every (TA/Az/legal) avenue available to me in order to drive forward an answer and give peace of mind.  Did you pay by CC? as they may be able to assist in matters of financial dispute.

 

Sycamore would do well to review the practice of certain distribution “partners” and ask themselves do they fit with the customer care ethos they wish to project for the Azamara brand.

 

I hope that you find the answers soonest.

 

Regards

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Thanks for the kind thoughts and good ideas.  

       I’ve contacted Azamara Customer Services, Carol Cabezas, Sycamore Partners, and the LCV Ambassador. There is also a group in the U.S. that tries to resolve travel issues like this. I’ll go to them if necessary. I’ve thought about my credit card but haven’t called them since I don’t know if they have a dog in this fight.

     Uktog is right, had it not been for the pandemic cancellations, I’d never have known what was happening. And wouldn’t have cared! The agent even said no one could have known the pandemic was coming so they couldn’t plan. She also offered a good chunk of OBC, in compensation for the reduced FCC, but it wasn’t close to what I’m losing and it didn’t engender too much sympathy from me. 

        My voucher did come directly from Azamara and I had assumed the amount was based on my total less taxes and port fees, but clearly was still much less than promised. When I called the agency, I’d hoped to speak to the agent’s supervisor because I was also annoyed that the call had come long after it had been promised. I wanted to change agents, but apparently my phone number is programmed directly to her, and my agent answered. 
I’ll keep everyone updated as this moves along.  
I’m a sadder, but wiser girl. I hope not poorer!

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Melissa, this is really bad and I hope you get it resolved. If the agent has done what seems they have, then it's just plain dishonest and hopefully Azamara will take the necessary action as this does not reflect well on them. Good luck. 🤞

 

Phil 

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3 hours ago, Melissaghoti said:

I’ve thought about my credit card but haven’t called them since I don’t know if they have a dog in this fight.

   

 

They absolutely have an interest; you've been cheated and they are the vehicle for payment. You should not hesitate to contact them and, if they are a good company, they will apply significant pressure on the TA.

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I am wondering how much of this might have originated as an Azamara accounting issue.

 

I had an invoice from Azamara from back in December for a sailing in July (which probably will not go) showing a specific balance due at final.  On Monday of this week, I received (through my TA) another invoice from Azamara showing the final payment that would be due as about $800 higher.

 

TA had them investigate it through AZ accounting dept. and Friday received notice that the original invoice was correct and the "updated" one was an "accounting error."

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Teabag, did you receive an invoice from Azamara?  I booked through a local Vancouver agent and he gave me both Azamara's invoice and his invoice - they are identical.

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I received a new invoice ( with the same pricing as the TA) from Azamara when I asked for the shareholder's OBC.  It does not reflect the large OBC I got from the TA, but I have an invoice from then that does, just not as nicely formatted.

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I'd be very surprised if an agent working for a large discount online TA would be able to do something like this on their own.  Any agent/agency requesting or requiring payment to them instead of to the cruiseline should be a red flag

 

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It is a shame that there’s no hinting at agency names, but I know that would turn into chaos. My best advice is to avoid the huge agencies that have the clout to aggregate cruises at a huge discount. There are plenty of smaller agencies who will see you as an individual, and treat you well.

I’m still waiting for further resolution of this. I’ve had a response from Azamara, saying that it didn’t sound right, but nothing more. I won’t happily take a loss of nearly half of what I’d paid, so will keep at it and update as I know more. I also, obviously,  don’t want to book anything else where this happened, so am also struggling with what to do with the small cash credit I have with them that, alone, won’t get me far! 
 

Thanks for the support,

 

Melissa

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Excellent advice. I’d also be wary of online reviews when making decisions only work with personal recommendations from people you trust.
 

Here the review site Trustpilot is independent, you can’t post without a proven purchase relationship  BUT the more dubious agencies have been incentivising bookers to post positive reviews immediately after booking. I know we were offered an extra OBC amount for a review on more than one occasion but you have to do the review a short time after booking to get the OBC - aka the honeymoon period. You need to drill down because only the truly good agencies have positive reviews on how the situation was handled last year when refunds were needed and have a range of reviews across the whole booking to cruise journey. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

The FCC Audit is happening with Royal and Celebrity as well.  It’s not related to the sale.  The process has now been automated, and that new process has uncovered many errors.  Because as I’m sure you can understand, their systems were not setup for the large volume of FCCS that were issued and redeemed, and then reissued as additional sailings were suspended.  Azamara will pay 125% of what was paid on the booking.  They will not speak to you about specific financial information on your booking.  But they will talk to you about your FCC amount.  The FCC belongs to you, not the agency.  Also you should have received a refund to your credit card for your taxes and fees, hotel, transfers, and cruise care.  However if your agency bundled different components together, in a group, that is a different story.  You can tell if you were booked in a group by looking at the Guest Copy of your invoice.  If you are in a group , the group number will be next to the booking number.   Also check your credit card statements.  Many FCCs were reduced because the guests were accidentally over refunded.  Look for any credits from Azamara.  And remember refunds come back in strange amounts.  Good Luck!

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