undisclosed agent fee

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Dec 13, 2017
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#1
Hi, I bought three plane tickets to Hong Kong for my family. The agent at Fei Yang Travel quoted me a price of $1,777 for each of two adult tickets, and $1,570 a child ticket. I later find out that the charges to my credit card show $1,765 per adult ticket, and $1,345 per child. A $249 agent fee was also charged. I reviewed the credit card authorization I signed, and it says that I authorize two charges for $1,777 and one charge for $1,570. The fine print does say that the amounts of individual charges might be different. Although the total charge is the same as what I was quoted, I feel deceived. Do I have any recourse about this undisclosed agent fee?
 

Neil Maley

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#2
If you agreed to the total amount and that was what you were charged, it doesn’t matter what the breakdown is. And if the fine print had it- you have no recourse.

You also will have an advocate if anything goes wrong with your flights by using a travel agency.
 
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technomage1

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Jan 5, 2015
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#3
I agree with Neil. If you'd booked by yourself online, the total price quoted would include the base fare, taxes, airport fees, etc but the total price is the total and final price, which is what you got in this case.
 
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Dec 13, 2017
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#4
The total may be correct, but it is still not right that the agent fee was intentionally hidden by subterfuge. An airline website would clearly show the itemized charges/fees that go towards that subtotal. I may very well have not bought from the agent (or at least from another agent who charged a lesser fee) if I were aware of the fee.

I may or may not have any recourse. Let me see whether my credit card company says.
 

Neil Maley

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#5
The total may be correct, but it is still not right that the agent fee was intentionally hidden by subterfuge. An airline website would clearly show the itemized charges/fees that go towards that subtotal. I may very well have not bought from the agent (or at least from another agent who charged a lesser fee) if I were aware of the fee.

I may or may not have any recourse. Let me see whether my credit card company says.
The disclaimer is what saves them. I don’t think you will win a dispute because of that.

The airlines don’t charge a booking fee so there would be nothing to disclose. But they have their own fees that are not clearly disclosed like luggage, cancellation, etc

Did you try booking these tickets on your own? What was the price you found?
 
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technomage1

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Jan 5, 2015
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#7
The total may be correct, but it is still not right that the agent fee was intentionally hidden by subterfuge. An airline website would clearly show the itemized charges/fees that go towards that subtotal. I may very well have not bought from the agent (or at least from another agent who charged a lesser fee) if I were aware of the fee.

I may or may not have any recourse. Let me see whether my credit card company says.
Peter, did you ask for a breakdown of the cost? Most people wouldn't care about anything other than the total price, so it's not suprising the agent only quoted that, especially over the phone. That's not subterfuge, IMO.

I would be very careful about doing a chargeback. You were charged what they quoted you and they provided you the tickets. You could very likely wind up with cancelled tickets and them hanging on to your money (and the card siding with them) because they kept their end of the contract.

Have you looked online to what the airline would have charged you if you'd self booked? When I've used TAs they got me a better price than I would've been able to book on my own, even with their cut. That may make you feel better about this.
 

Neil Maley

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#8
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Dec 7, 2017
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#9
As long as the OP did not receive a consolidator fare [which he would not have gotten if he booked through the airline] and he has the same rights and privileges to the same fare he would have booked online - then I agree with everyone.

If he was booked on a bulk fare and has no recourse against the airline then I would not agree he received the benefit of his bargain . . . .
 

Neil Maley

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#10
Not sure I understand why what he paid makes a difference if he signed a credit card authorization that stated:

I authorize two charges for $1,777 and one charge for $1,570. The fine print does say that the amounts of individual charges might be different. Although the total charge is the same as what I was quoted, I feel deceived.

He chose to use a travel agency and not book directly through the airline.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#11
I have a question for the OP-- how did you think the travel agent was being paid? It is ok to pay the airline for a service and not the travel agent?

I do not think it would be wise to do a chargeback. It is very unlikely to be successful and is in bad faith.
 

Neil Maley

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#12
I have a question for the OP-- how did you think the travel agent was being paid? It is ok to pay the airline for a service and not the travel agent?

I do not think it would be wise to do a chargeback. It is very unlikely to be successful and is in bad faith.
It is also almost guaranteed to get the reservation cancelled.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#13
Peter, you're seeing a problem that doesn't exist. You were quoted a charge, you were charged for that amount. There's nothing else going on here. A credit card dispute would be an action that might be considered fraudulent on your part.
 
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mmb

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Jan 20, 2015
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#14
Same question was asked on Washington Post chat
Talk about Travel on Monday. Chris’ answer was quite different than those on this forum.
Q: travel agency ticket fees

Hi, I bought three plane tickets to Hong Kong for my family. The agent at Fei Yang Travel quoted me a price of $1,777 for each of two adult tickets, and $1,570 a child ticket. I later find out that the charges to my credit card show $1,765 per adult ticket, and $1,345 per child. A $249 agent fee was also charged. I reviewed the credit card authorization I signed, and it says that I authorize two charges for $1,777 and one charge for $1,570. The fine print does say that the amounts of individual charges might be different. Although the total charge is the same as what I was quoted, I feel deceived. Do I have any recourse about this undisclosed agent fee?

A: Christopher Elliott

That's ridiculous. Please send me a help request through my consumer advocacy site and I will do my best to get a straight answer for you.

DEC 11, 2017 2:20 EST
 

Christopher Elliott

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#15
I'm glad you stopped by to ask this question. I thought the fees should have been disclosed before you booked. That is the "ridiculous" part to which I was referring in the Washington Post chat. On a separate note, a $249 agent fee seems a little high. I can see why you'd feel ripped off.
 
Likes: Just A Guy
Jul 27, 2016
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#16
While it's generally true that "the total price is what matters," the actual ticket price CANmatter if it came to a ticket change. The difference in this case is small ($80/ticket), but, if you ended up having to change tickets, there's a big difference between a $450 ticket with a $150 fee ($600) total and a $550 ticket with a $50 fee (also $600 total). If the airline change fee is $200, then the first would give you $250 to put toward a new ticket, while the latter would give you $350 in credit.
 

Neil Maley

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#17
I'm glad you stopped by to ask this question. I thought the fees should have been disclosed before you booked. That is the "ridiculous" part to which I was referring in the Washington Post chat. On a separate note, a $249 agent fee seems a little high. I can see why you'd feel ripped off.
It is probably $80 pp. Is it high? Yes. Should if have been disclosed? In the agencies distorted way of thinking it probably was in the wording of the charge they agreed to.

But don’t you think he has a really good chance of his tickets being canceled by doing a credit card dispute that he will probably lose because it doesn’t fall in the parameters of a legit chargeback?

What he should do is file a complaint with the NYS Attorney General for not clearly disclosing the fee. He agreed to the total price so if the prIce was unreasonable he didn’t have to purchase the tickets. No one forced him to pay what he paid.
 

technomage1

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Jan 5, 2015
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#18
The few times I've used agents I don't recall them breaking the cost down. It was just $x and that was it. I've no idea what their fee or cut was. I was happy because I paid less than self booking. I thought that was standard practice, is it not?
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#19
The few times I've used agents I don't recall them breaking the cost down. It was just $x and that was it. I've no idea what their fee or cut was. I was happy because I paid less than self booking. I thought that was standard practice, is it not?
Most agencies charge for air only tickets as there is no commission paid by the airlines. This one was sneaky about it.