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Using your FCC at big-box TA? Be careful.


kwb101
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Briefly:

  • April 15, HAL cancelled our voyage this June (by email). We chose the 125% future cruise credit plus $250 per person OBC option.
  • April 18, I booked (essentially) the same voyage for July 2021.
  • May 7, HAL sent a message that the credit was available.
  • May 8, I called our big-box travel agent to apply the future cruise credit to the April '21 voyage. There was about $795 future cruise credit remaining after transferring it to the  trip (which is in our Mariner accounts). So far, so good.

BUT...

  • Rather than applying the FCC as a payment, the cruise package price was reduced to $0...which meant that the $1260 shopping card we were to receive before applying the FCC disappeared (there is still a $25 card shown, their minimum).

 

I'm rather upset about this, since we had already paid in full using the big-box credit card, and the only difference between the cancelled trip and the new one is that we paid for the former directly and the latter had money transferred from HAL.

 

This is not good. Has anyone else had this happen?

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No, but this is a very interesting and disturbing piece of news. The big box store is not working for free. They WILL get a commission from HAL at some point.  Out of that commission, they owe you the same terms in the booked offer for 2021. Let us know what happens.

Edited by Caribbean Chris
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I’ve been wondering how the big box would handle this.  Supposedly the BB TA got to keep the full commission from HAL from which you were to have been rewarded with a $1260 cash card.  BB TA kept the full the commission and didn’t pay the $1260 cash card rebate to you for giving them the booking.   If the BB TA is not honoring the original cash card then I see no reason to give them the replacement booking.

 

Did you ask for an explanation from the BB TA and take the issue up with a supervisor?   What would the policy have been if the rebate to you had been refundable OBC like it used to be?  

 

My booking was also through the BB TA and if the BB TA does not offer the original cash card rebate on the rebooking I’ll just book through HAL so that I can control the booking.

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The OBC/shopping card change is also not good: until late last year, you got a percentage (usually about 7%) of your fare as OBC. Then, it changed to a Shop card that could only be used in their warehouses (can't be cashed out, and is sent out after the voyage)...and was calculated at a lower percentage.

The very nice lady who went through the FCC transfer offered to connect me to a supervisor (I declined), but I imagine this goes much higher. In effect, they're no cheaper than going directly through HAL. Grump, grump.

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I understood that the Shop card disappeared because I used the future cruise credit. It's the same money I paid with my big-box credit card, when they were quite happy to include the Shop card. Why this has changed because it was returned from HAL is a mystery. However, as far as their system goes, I expect that the Shop card went almost to $0 because the FCC was applied to the fare, and not shown as a payment. Odd, but I've had this happen before: we had a credit for three missed ports about 18 months ago, and suddenly the fare declined with no notice or explanation. It took a call to figure out HAL had applied it on their own. They're not very good at telling you what's going on, but the big-box TA people have been unfailingly polite, courteous, and friendly, even durng 90 minute calls.

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Many large agency software systems will auto insert promotions that are price based reflective of the net (commissionsble) fare shown by the cruise line. Since most cruise lines are applying the FCC as a discount to the booking and not a payment the agency software only sees the discounted fare, which in many cases will be $0. In this case the system inserts the minimum promotion amount and agents cannot override it.  Unless the agency IT team develops a manual workaround (which some have) you will end up in this situation. 

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Interesting...so they got to keep the commission from my original cruise(I had $400+ in OBC) and now if I rebook with them I get a $25 gift card instead of a $400 one. And they got to keep that commission from the original cruise plus my $400. Hmmm

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Doesn’t seem exactly right!  I have often wondered about a cruise that was paid in full and  was cancelled last minute.   TA and HAL got all the money minus taxes and no credit from TA or mariner Credit.   Hmmm. 

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FYI - if you booked through an agency or direct with the cruise line you DO NOT have to use the FCC with the original booking source, so make sure before you have it applied to a new booking that you have done your homework and shopped around !!!!!!!!

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I just visited with the BB TA. The rep told me that as of 2 weeks ago they were told they would not be receiving those original commissions. On a new booking using FCC they will not receive a commission if the amount due is $00, so as a customer we would only receive their minimum $25 gift card. I know it was posted somewhere that the TAs would receive their commissions. 
I have a friend who is a TA and she says she has received the commissions on those original sailings. So, I am not sure what I believe.

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52 minutes ago, wyobean said:

I just visited with the BB TA. The rep told me that as of 2 weeks ago they were told they would not be receiving those original commissions. On a new booking using FCC they will not receive a commission if the amount due is $00, so as a customer we would only receive their minimum $25 gift card. I know it was posted somewhere that the TAs would receive their commissions.

Much as I like working with the folks at this TA, it seems pretty crummy to handle the FCC this way, and remove not only the commission for them, but the discount to us. In addition, the price of the trip I booked increased about 25% from the same one this year, so the FCC barely covered the increased price. Looks like no one will come out even, let alone ahead.

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27 minutes ago, kwb101 said:

Much as I like working with the folks at this TA, it seems pretty crummy to handle the FCC this way, and remove not only the commission for them, but the discount to us. In addition, the price of the trip I booked increased about 25% from the same one this year, so the FCC barely covered the increased price. Looks like no one will come out even, let alone ahead.

If I'm understanding correctly, the TA won't get a commission on the original cruise since it was canceled, but also won't get a commission on the rebooked cruise because the FCC was processed as a discount (making the fare effectively zero) instead of a form of payment? If so, then not only is the cruise line benefitting from effectively interest free loans (by providing refunds in the form of credits rather than cash), but they're also stiffing TAs out of commissions. Hopefully this is all just an unintended consequence of the FCC processing rather than intentional.

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5 hours ago, strickerj said:

If I'm understanding correctly, the TA won't get a commission on the original cruise since it was canceled, but also won't get a commission on the rebooked cruise because the FCC was processed as a discount (making the fare effectively zero) instead of a form of payment? If so, then not only is the cruise line benefitting from effectively interest free loans (by providing refunds in the form of credits rather than cash), but they're also stiffing TAs out of commissions. Hopefully this is all just an unintended consequence of the FCC processing rather than intentional.

I think you've put it well. There must be some benefit to HAL, but those of us who use this TA get zero out of this booking, as does the TA. I don't know why HAL doesn't show it as a payment, which would make everyone whole. 

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HAL, and other cruise lines, are protecting agency commissions on the original bookings that are being cancelled. Some cruise lines, but not all, are also paying commissions to agents on the new bookings created with the FCC.  I’m unsure if HAL is paying commissions on the portion of the new booking covered by the FCC. 

 

The issue here is since HAL, and other cruise lines, systems apply FCC as a discount to the fare when the agency imports the booking to their internal reservation software from the cruise line the agency systems have no way no auto-add the fare that was being covered by the FCC. Some agencies have crafted a manual workaround to account for the FCC, especially when they are getting paid a commission on the value of them.

 

This whole situation is a giant nightmare and processes and policies from the cruise lines are changing daily, with each cruise line being radically different in their processes, and it’s very hard for agencies to keep up and adapt for every convolution out there. The agency IT department may create a new workaround for the agency reservation system that launches on Monday afternoon and by Tuesday morning it’s obsolete because the cruise lines has changed their process.  Some agencies use a licensed 3rd party software application that cannot be customized by the agency to deal with these kinds of issues, and the developers may not be willing (or able) to make the modifications to the software. 
 

If you are re-booking with an agency that is not giving you a comparable offer to the cruise that previously cancelled I would suggest cancelling the new booking with the agency, having your FCC restored to its original value and shop around and rebook with an agency that WILL give you some benefit for booking with them and using an FCC.
 

The agency you originally booked with DOES NOT own the FCC. It is portable and you can use it with any agency or direct with the cruise line.  

Edited by AtlantaCruiser72
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On 5/9/2020 at 2:35 PM, kwb101 said:

Briefly:

  • April 15, HAL cancelled our voyage this June (by email). We chose the 125% future cruise credit plus $250 per person OBC option.
  • April 18, I booked (essentially) the same voyage for July 2021.
  • May 7, HAL sent a message that the credit was available.
  • May 8, I called our big-box travel agent to apply the future cruise credit to the April '21 voyage. There was about $795 future cruise credit remaining after transferring it to the  trip (which is in our Mariner accounts). So far, so good.

BUT...

  • Rather than applying the FCC as a payment, the cruise package price was reduced to $0...which meant that the $1260 shopping card we were to receive before applying the FCC disappeared (there is still a $25 card shown, their minimum).

 

I'm rather upset about this, since we had already paid in full using the big-box credit card, and the only difference between the cancelled trip and the new one is that we paid for the former directly and the latter had money transferred from HAL.

 

This is not good. Has anyone else had this happen?

Very interesting. We had kind of the opposite happen. We were on the Maasdam March 1, 34 days Aukland to San Diego. Missed most ports and had it shortened by 7 days. We opted for 225% of 19/34 days which we didn’t get yet. However, we also booked thru big box TA and had refundable OBC from them which we didn’t use. I cashed it out while on ship. So, we ended up getting OBC for over half of the cruise that was refunded in FCC. 
When we eventually use the FCC we probably won’t get more OBC as that would be double dipping. 

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5 hours ago, Bethcb said:

Very interesting. We had kind of the opposite happen. We were on the Maasdam March 1, 34 days Aukland to San Diego. Missed most ports and had it shortened by 7 days. We opted for 225% of 19/34 days which we didn’t get yet. However, we also booked thru big box TA and had refundable OBC from them which we didn’t use. I cashed it out while on ship. So, we ended up getting OBC for over half of the cruise that was refunded in FCC. 
When we eventually use the FCC we probably won’t get more OBC as that would be double dipping. 

The BigBox doesn’t give funds through OBC any more. It’s now a shopping card mailed out after you return. It has to be spent at their locations.

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28 minutes ago, TiogaCruiser said:

The BigBox doesn’t give funds through OBC any more. It’s now a shopping card mailed out after you return. It has to be spent at their locations.

Thanks, see my posts 4 and 5, above.

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18 hours ago, AtlantaCruiser72 said:

The issue here is since HAL, and other cruise lines, systems apply FCC as a discount to the fare when the agency imports the booking to their internal reservation software from the cruise line the agency systems have no way no auto-add the fare that was being covered by the FCC. Some agencies have crafted a manual workaround to account for the FCC, especially when they are getting paid a commission on the value of them.

 

This whole situation is a giant nightmare and processes and policies from the cruise lines are changing daily, with each cruise line being radically different in their processes, and it’s very hard for agencies to keep up and adapt for every convolution out there. The agency IT department may create a new workaround for the agency reservation system that launches on Monday afternoon and by Tuesday morning it’s obsolete because the cruise lines has changed their process.  Some agencies use a licensed 3rd party software application that cannot be customized by the agency to deal with these kinds of issues, and the developers may not be willing (or able) to make the modifications to the software.

We've had other FCCs for missed ports, and they did indeed reduce the amount of the OBC/shop card. However, in this most-recent case, the $1260 shop card shown on my booking confirmation in mid-April dropped to $25.

Had the FCC not been applied to the "cruise package" (the term on their booking confirmation) but shown as a payment, we'd still have our shop card. I know they can apply to whichever one they want: it's their decision.

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3 minutes ago, Bethcb said:

My Big Box still giving me OBC for Princess and HAL. Gift card for Celebrity. I am on phone with them now and confirmed it hasn’t changed. 

The big-box TA ending in "o" went to Shop cards about six months ago. Fortunately, we had everything booked earlier, and got real OBC. Not only has this change happened, but the amount of the shop card is lower than the OBC previously given (at least 1% of the regular fare ("cruise package").

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1 hour ago, kwb101 said:

We've had other FCCs for missed ports, and they did indeed reduce the amount of the OBC/shop card. However, in this most-recent case, the $1260 shop card shown on my booking confirmation in mid-April dropped to $25.

Had the FCC not been applied to the "cruise package" (the term on their booking confirmation) but shown as a payment, we'd still have our shop card. I know they can apply to whichever one they want: it's their decision.

Not the agencies decision of how it's applied, rather the cruise lines.  HAL applies the FCC as a discount to the base fare and once applied only the post FCC (discounted) rate will appear on the res in the HAL system or invoice sent to the agency.  When the agency imports the res it imports only the fare shown in the HAL system (in this case the amount AFTER the discount/FCC was applied).  This is why the agency system shows the amount of their bonus as being lower based on the fare amount shown.  

 

Have you called them and asked if they are doing anything manually on their  to offset for the FCC/discounted fare?

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A sea change! Just got a call from Big-Box TA, and the nice lady I talked to last week told me that she'd talked to her supervisor, who called HAL, and through various machinations, reinstated our original shop card ($1070).

She suggested that if anyone has a similar problem to call them (no rush, as long as it's before the voyage starts), and explain that you had a shop card for a certain amount. They may be able to reinstate it.

Good luck!

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15 minutes ago, kwb101 said:

A sea change! Just got a call from Big-Box TA, and the nice lady I talked to last week told me that she'd talked to her supervisor, who called HAL, and through various machinations, reinstated our original shop card ($1070).

She suggested that if anyone has a similar problem to call them (no rush, as long as it's before the voyage starts), and explain that you had a shop card for a certain amount. They may be able to reinstate it.

Good luck!

 

Sounds like they determined that the value of the FCC is commissionable so they have manually overridden their accounting software to give you the bonus offer.  Glad things worked out :) 

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21 minutes ago, kwb101 said:

A sea change! Just got a call from Big-Box TA, and the nice lady I talked to last week told me that she'd talked to her supervisor, who called HAL, and through various machinations, reinstated our original shop card ($1070).

She suggested that if anyone has a similar problem to call them (no rush, as long as it's before the voyage starts), and explain that you had a shop card for a certain amount. They may be able to reinstate it.

Good luck!

Good news.  I’ll keep this in mind when I rebook my HAL cancelled cruise with my BB TA.  I prefer refundable OBC but as part of my original booking I was offered the cash card so I know now that I need to ask for it when I rebook. Thanks for reporting back!

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14 minutes ago, AtlantaCruiser72 said:

 

Sounds like they determined that the value of the FCC is commissionable so they have manually overridden their accounting software to give you the bonus offer.  Glad things worked out 🙂 

Yes, that's the word she used (although I think it referred to the cancelled voyage). (It turns out they got the amount wrong (pulled from the voyage they cancelled, not the one I booked in April): it should be $1260, but no rush to correct this.) I hope others can get their cards fixed.

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