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OBC from travel agent: refundable or nonrefundable on Crystal?


marinaro44
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I am on Symphony now, and being told that my travel agent's OBC is nonrefundable and must be spent onboard or forfeited.  I have OBC from both Crystal and the TA.  I have cruised eight other ocean cruise lines and OBC from my TA has always been refunded if not spent onboard.  Is this standard Crystal policy?  If so, this is not only my first but also my last Crystal cruise.  This borders on theft.  TA OBC is mine to spend...or not spend...as I see fit.

 

I was told that only OBC from a certain big box membership chain TA is refundable.  Huh?

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6 minutes ago, marinaro44 said:

I am on Symphony now, and being told that my travel agent's OBC is nonrefundable and must be spent onboard or forfeited.  I have OBC from both Crystal and the TA.

 

Talk to your Travel Agent and get them involved - they can sort it out for you. The outcome will depend on the exact source/type of the OBC and your TA should know that and be able to raise it with Crystal

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27 minutes ago, marinaro44 said:

I am on Symphony now, and being told that my travel agent's OBC is nonrefundable and must be spent onboard or forfeited.  I have OBC from both Crystal and the TA.  I have cruised eight other ocean cruise lines and OBC from my TA has always been refunded if not spent onboard.  Is this standard Crystal policy?  If so, this is not only my first but also my last Crystal cruise.  This borders on theft.  TA OBC is mine to spend...or not spend...as I see fit.

 

I was told that only OBC from a certain big box membership chain TA is refundable.  Huh?

You can talk with your TA but my experience is that on board credit from both Crystal and your agent is non-refundable.  It has been like this for quite along time.

 

Exceptions would be a credit if you missed a port which is a refund of money for port charges you would have paid as part of the cruise fare.

 

If your TA is familiar with the Crystal product they should have known this in advance and they could have made other arrangements.  This is clearly not new.

 

Again talk to your agent but I highly doubt they can do anything.

 

Keith

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14 minutes ago, marinaro44 said:

If what you both are saying is true it is an unethical policy on Crystal's part.


This was a legal problem for Crystal a while back, that they were forced to put some fences around.  
 

Onboard credits are intended to be gifts for onboard guest enjoyment,  as most US agencies legally account for that expense.  Some less ethical agents were pushing massive rebates through this channel because it was less transparent for both the agency and the traveler, which can have specific tax implications for how some of these expenses/revenue are booked by either party at this volume.


To Terry and Keith’s point, Crystal makes it VERY clear to agents making onboard give purchases that they are nonrefundable in those cases where it is — even if the agent didn’t know the backstory.

 

Vince

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35 minutes ago, marinaro44 said:

If what you both are saying is true it is an unethical policy on Crystal's part.

 

I found in the Guidebook that Crystal sends to all cruisers about credits not being refundable in cash. It might be in the terms and conditions, but as a nonlawyer, my eyes glaze over when trying to read it. My point, I don't think Crystal is being unethical. You may not like the policy, but as long as they tell you what that policy is, it's not unethical.

Edited by Texas Tillie
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On my July Bahamas cruise my OBC from my TA was refundable.

Not all OBCs from TAs are the same.

In the past, on rare occasions, I have had non-refundable OBCs from my TA

 

Only the OP's TA can resolve the issue.

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I think you're barking up the wrong tree here. It is your TA that you should addressing this to.  Your TA could have given you a REBATE, or purchased an OBC for you. OBC is exactly what it says: ONBOARD Credit.  The TA should have communicated with Crystal if it was their intent to give you something you could redeem for cash, since there are certain "credits" that are redeemable in certain ways.  OR - possibly your TA did not intend for you to redeem for cash, and thus gave you what was intended.  In any case, there is nothing unethical; it is not theft, and it is spelled out & should be known or learned by the TA. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

I found in the Guidebook that Crystal sends to all cruisers about credits not being refundable in cash. It might be in the terms and conditions, but as a nonlawyer, my eyes glaze over when trying to read it. My point, I don't think Crystal is being unethical. You may not like the policy, but as long as they tell you what that policy is, it's not unethical.

I have no idea what this Guidebook is, but there is no mention of OBC in any context in the ticket contract.  And the refund thing mentioned somewhere above is in the contract section dealing with a cruise cancellation, therefore irrelevant.

 

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1 minute ago, marinaro44 said:

I have no idea what this Guidebook is, but there is no mention of OBC in any context in the ticket contract.  And the refund thing mentioned somewhere above is in the contract section dealing with a cruise cancellation, therefore irrelevant.

 

 

As others have posted, this is Crystal's policy and it was up to your travel agent to convey this information to you. If you assumed something based on experiences with other cruise lines, well you know what they say about assuming!

 

Patty

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11 minutes ago, bitob said:

Some OBCS given by a TA actually come from the cruise line and are NOT refundable.

Up to the TA and the passenger to communicate about that . .

 

In the "olden days" I've had as many as 4 different credits - one from Crystal for specific cruises, one from my travel agent, one from the consortium (Virtuoso) with which my agent has an association (and this is really from Crystal) and one from a Crystal Society milestone. 🤩

 

Patty

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Unfortunately, many TAs do not fully inform clients about OBCs.  It is the source of the OBC that matters;  not who gives it to the passenger.

 

On many cruises, an agency has a "deal" or "agreement" with the cruise line that enables a TA to give additional OBC.  Those types of OBCs (which do not come out of the TA's commission) are not refundable.  They are actually cruise line OBCs.

 

I always ask.

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You have been given good advice IMHO.  

 

The OBC's are not refundable.

 

Your TA should have told you this if they know the Crystal product.  If you TA doesn't know the product then that is still not Crystal's problem.  

 

As Patty noted it is noted in the guidebook.  You might not know about it but Crystal refers booked guests to the guidebook.  

 

It is also noted in the daily embarkation reflections program.  This is one from January of 2019 but this policy has been in place for a long time.  

 

Reflections.thumb.jpg.374bfe860bb55abfa44cee8ed1916dd2.jpg

 

 

If your goal is to see if something can be done then my advice is the same I would get your TA involved.  However, in all likelihood your OBC is in the category of non-refundable.  In short, it is not treated as cash and there are also things it can't be used for.  If I am wrong, that's great but you are not going to solve this here.  


And finally, for all the reasons mentioned Crystal isn't being unethical just because you don't like the answer(s) you are being given.

 

Keith

 

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Crystal Cruise #1 and Crystal is "unethical" because it applies the policies it advertises.   OMG.

Maybe, instead, the OP's TA is not very knowledgeable about Crystal.

 

Keith -- maybe should add this tidbit about OBCs  to the "First time Crystal Cruisers memo"

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Does the workaround that many talk about- buying into the casino and then cashing out- work on Crystal? Thanks to OBC on my last Crystal cruise I have a lovely cashmere wrap that I got the last night out. There were a lot of people shopping for things they didn't really need or want in order to spend their credits. 

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2 hours ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

In the "olden days" I've had as many as 4 different credits - one from Crystal for specific cruises, one from my travel agent, one from the consortium (Virtuoso) with which my agent has an association (and this is really from Crystal) and one from a Crystal Society milestone. 🤩

 

Patty

And then there's a 5th type of credit - given by the Credit Card co, for example American Express Platinum.  Not refundable for cash.    Seems like it's always a surprise what kind of OBC's we get - like opening presents on Xmas morning (Hanukah evening)!

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24 minutes ago, newcruiser58 said:

Do you typically know before your cruise how much OBC you have?

If it is Crystal provided you will see it on your booking reservation from Crystal.  It will list how much and by person.  

 

If there is OBC from your TA or their consortium (if there is one) or other things such as American Express you would know that in advance.  Once on board on the first day you can view your shipboard account and you will see how much you have a on board credit.

 

Keith

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1 hour ago, 5waldos said:

Does the workaround that many talk about- buying into the casino and then cashing out- work on Crystal? Thanks to OBC on my last Crystal cruise I have a lovely cashmere wrap that I got the last night out. There were a lot of people shopping for things they didn't really need or want in order to spend their credits. 

These types of credits can't be used as cash. Examples include Gratuities (this one is new for 2021), casino, bingo, future cruise.

 

Keith

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27 minutes ago, newcruiser58 said:

Do you typically know before your cruise how much OBC you have?

You should.  It is on the confirmation from my TA.  I always check the amount against the amount I am told I have on board.  Only once has there been a discrepancy (it was a b2b) but it got resolved by my TA.

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1 minute ago, bitob said:

You should.  It is on the confirmation from my TA.  I always check the amount against the amount I am told I have on board.  Only once has there been a discrepancy (it was a b2b) but it got resolved by my TA.

 

Had a problem once. Printed out the invoice from my travel agent with everything notated. Took it to the front desk. They faxed it to corporate. Got a notice from the front desk in 2 days that it was resolved.

 

Patty

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15 minutes ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

Had a problem once. Printed out the invoice from my travel agent with everything notated. Took it to the front desk. They faxed it to corporate. Got a notice from the front desk in 2 days that it was resolved.

 

Patty

Exactly my experience  !!

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