I had an interesting situation arise this week with a customer who outright lied to secure a better deal on a vacation. We are all accustomed to white lies and bent truths, but this one was a whopper. I am not going to name names; but suffice to say that this supplier went above and beyond my wildest expectations to cement their relationship with my agency.
As most of you know, my agency specializes in single parent travel and we have a large group headed to a Caribbean island in August. Several months ago, a woman called and inquired on some pricing on the trip. This was a basic first inquiry and we discussed policies, pricing and the different events we sponsor throughout the week. She did not seem overly interested, so we left it at that and I followed up monthly.
Last week, I get an email from her explaining that she booked the trip (in a lovely oceanfront suite no less) with someone else for a much lower price and wanted to know how much it would cost for her and her three children to join in our activities. She named the children and their ages 15, 17, and 19 (huge mistake). I do not play that game as it only opens Pandora’s box. I explained that since it was not booked through us, she would not be included. She replied that she was a very good customer of the resort and would talk to them directly to see what they could do.
Well, I like to think I am a very good customer of the resort as well giving them nearly 300 room-nights a year for the past 12 years. So I called down and gave the General Manager the low down and he assured me the reservation was flagged and they would not allow her access to any of our events. I was commiserating over this with my sales rep over my lost $4000 commission and his share. When he looked at the booking, we discovered that the price was nowhere near what we thought. Upon further review, she listed her three children as being “children” (8, 11, 12) according to the resort’s policy; yet the ages of her children (remember she told me) put most of them in the adult category.
Well, her $12,000 booking should have been $20,000. Ouch! Not only am I getting bypassed from earning anything on this, but now the resort is losing out $8,000. This was not an oversight or an exaggeration—this was a flat out lie.
The agency of record was contacted and the agency called the client to let them know that she would be expected to pay a lot more. She flipped out (as was expected) and called the resort attempting to exert her “status” to have them honor the price. During the conversation, they asked about the ages of the kids and when she replied it was yet a different set of ages (16, 18, 19) than she gave to the agency and to me.
The resort stuck to its guns and told her that, based on their information, they believed that her children were indeed not children when it came to pricing. They advised that the reservation had been flagged and that all occupants of the room will have to present Passports upon check-in and if the ages are not per the booking, she would be responsible for any difference in the rate. They also offered to cancel the reservation and completely refund any monies already collected without penalty. She chose the latter.
Chalk one up for the travel agent! I was flabbergasted that this was all resolved so swiftly. I am encouraged that the supplier stood up for the relationship we have established over the last 12 years as opposed to quieting the squeaky wheel.
Initially, there was some question if the booking agency may have used incorrect ages, but given the fact that the client offered three different sets of ages for her own children to three different entities seems to eliminate that consideration.
We have all had clients bend the truth a little bit. A little older to get the AARP rate. A little younger to be considered a lapper on an airline. But, this was the biggest whopper I have experienced and am thrilled with the resolution. What about you? Have you ever lied for a client or had a client lie to you? Please leave a comment!