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Uneasy about agent invoice

UK
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Uneasy about agent invoice

I really don't know where to put this question, so I'll try here first.

I have been in lengthy dialogue with a travel agent (working from home for a franchise) to plan a forthcoming trip of 13 days, total spend over 6k. We're at the point of commit = send the agent over 4k, rest to be sent later. At that point she will book all flights and car hire and hotels.

Firstly, my spreadsheet shows a different (smaller) total - but not by enough to worry me.

However, today, at my insistence, she has sent an invoice.

I had to blink. This is not an invoice (for thousands of pounds) by any definition. It is the itinerary with a company logo on top. There is no date, no invoice number, no break down of charges, just the itinerary and final sum. No company address or contact details: all the missing details are required by law in UK.

I am very uneasy. She's been in the travel business for 20 years and should know all about invoicing business (or leisure) customers.

I've emailed our accountant for advice but I think I know what he's going to say.

What do you think? It's a lot of money and a big commit.

Thanks.

London, United...
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21. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

I'm curious to, why are you using this agent and not just booking with the service providers direct?

I'll be Honest, in all my years I have never come across a travel agent who works from home, and is effectively a one person show under a franchised name. I can't see the point in that.

When you say she has been twenty years,,,has this always been for the same franchise in her home? Or has she been twenty years in the industry but in varying companies?

UK
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22. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

I think the point of using that particular franchise is an attraction for people who do not want to, or do not like to, or are less than confident about, doing research themselves. One sector would be retired people? One sector would be not internet-research savvy people? One sector would be large business who want to move a lot of people overseas for a conference? Just guessing.

Since I am none of those, I don't fit their "client" profile/s. They keep banging on about financial protection, which presumably means that you send them all the money upfront and they won't run off with it (?). However, if BA goes out of business in the next six months I'll be very surprised: and in any case by booking directly with them I already have financial protection, by law and by credit card. As to all the other details, if a global car hire company goes bust, ditto. All the hotels which I have researched myself and chosen are not 2 or 3* places out on the wilds. etcetera.

My Accountant's response was that since that is not an invoice by any definition, a contract cannot be entered into on the basis of that piece of paper. It's not like hiring a local builder! (No, he will not charge extra for that advice, which I had surmised anyway.)

I have now drafted a letter to politely let this travel agent go. It is regrettable but there is an upside. Latest speadsheet calculations (maximising all possible local taxes) show that I will be saving at least £250 (on their commission). I'll also be spreading the spend over the entire trip instead of paying weeks in advance upfront.

If you have been, thanks for reading, and thanks for all the input. It's a big help.

London, United...
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23. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

Thanks, yes, I get why people use travel agents, what I don't get is why people would pick someone who is just using a franchised name and working in their home,,,,,

Melbourne, Australia
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24. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

>>>One sector would be large business who want to move a lot of people overseas for a conference?<<<

The others yes, large companies no. Corporate travel is a completely different kettle of fish.

>>>They keep banging on about financial protection, which presumably means that you send them all the money upfront and they won't run off with it (?)<<<

That right there bothers me the most. You ever seen reputable airlines or hotels that make such statements? If they ARE reputable, why the need to mention it?

I think you're way over thinking this whole 'if the business collapses' thing. How many times during your travel, have you been burned by a company collapsing? So tell me, what happens if your insurance company goes under?

Edited: 15 January 2014, 19:48
UK
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25. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

Hi KVE from Australia. Not that it matters, but one of their claims on their website is that large companies choose to use their services for corporate travel arrangements (and also say that megasquillion footballers find it worth their while so to do). If anyone wants to become a Business customer / client, they have to state up-front how much they are likely to spend on business travel p.a.

I'm not over-thinking it, or even thinking it, now. Letter has been emailed to said party. Said party has responded with professional courtesy and wishing me a good trip.

Melbourne, Australia
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26. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

Hi,

Their statement claims on their website serve to add further credibility issues.

The best of corporate agents never touch leisure business, and they don't need to advertise who their client market are.

Glad to hear it's all coming to a close. Best wishes for your planning and travel.

Wales, United...
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for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
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27. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

Indeed. I would be extremely wary of any company which considered that advertising they are used by footballers is a good thing too!

Watford, United...
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28. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

Good decision striped shirt. Have a great trip.

UK
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29. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

Thanks MrM. I've just booked our flights.

If anyone is interested, I was uneasy a couple of weeks ago (re: topic). On my spreadsheet the total bill was £5,xxx. Her estimate a couple of weeks ago was about £600 higher but from that she'd cut her commission so therefore it was now only £6,xxx. That was excluding one of the hotels.........

The final bill estimate quotation invoice (whatever word you use, none of them is correct) came to £250 more than my spreadsheet which includes every thing. After that, there'd be another near £100 charge for using a credit card to pay the 3rd party.

Now I really do have a final total, since I've booked everything myself. I have saved at least £250 and up to £350. I know this is a fallacious argument (the last £100 element). Nevertheless, had I gone with the 3rd party agent to book everything for me, and paid them by credit card, it would have cost me £350 more. For what? ???

Ho Hum.

Watford, United...
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30. Re: Uneasy about agent invoice

Interesting. And it's so easy to do as well.

Edited: 16 January 2014, 19:22