I was just reminded why I won't accept client's money. I want your business, of course. But payment needs to be made directly to travel vendor, never to me. Here's why.
Roman Coliseum in Arles, France
A client books a trip with a travel agent, let's say a $5000 trip on for a cruise. The travel agent asks the client to send a check directly to the travel agent. The agent then books the client with the travel vendor. There's a few scenarios here. The travel agent could ask for the full amount of the cruise, but only pay the cruise line the deposit. And there's the potential that the agent may not actually pay the cruise line.
How to protect yourself
Let's be very clear: First - always pay the travel vendor directly. You can and should work through your agent to do so. But the charges should go directly to the cruise line or travel destination. You should ALWAYS make sure you receive a confirmation from the travel provider themselves, not from the travel agent. The vendor's logo and terms and conditions should always be clearly stated and understood - complete with cancellation penalties and proof that payment was made.
Second - always pay by credit card. This affords you consumer protections. If you send a check, you have no recourse if there's a fraudulent situation. The credit card companies have tremendous leverage with travel suppliers to help get your money back. Plus most offer money back guarantees and legal recourse mechanism.
Some travel suppliers offer slight discounts if payment is received by wire transfer or check. In my opinion, the slight savings is not worth the increased risk you incur, so I advise against this practice.
I don't want your money but I do want....
This is why I say I don't want your money. When you book a trip with me, I want your credit card number so I can pay the travel provider directly. You will always get a confirmation showing the amount paid as well as the provider's terms and conditions. The confirmation also shows the exact deal booked - itineraries as well as promised discounts or perks. You should always demand complete transparency and a speedy response.
I just heard of a case where a travel agent took money directly from a consumer and when the consumer cancelled the cruise, the agent refused to send the money back. The client complained to the travel provider who worked something out and of course has banned that agent from ever working with them again. We hope they press charges. So that's what prompted this blog post to be written now.
Work with a trusted travel agent and this situation will never happen to you. We promise.