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editor@cruisecritic

Noordam Pricing Error -- End of Saga

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In our (last) story on the subject -- you may recall that folks who'd booked cruises onboard Noordam this winter were told, six weeks later, that they'd have to pay more money or stay home -- we asked Wayne Jones, just one such Holland America customer, what his ultimate decision was when final payment day rolled around (Monday). See our story here:

http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=1878.

Best,

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown

Editor

Cruise Critic

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I hope he can enjoy his cruise. The Noordam is a fine ship. However, I still feel HAL really messed up in this matter. Kudos to Expedia for stepping to the plate and offering something to these folks.

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I hope he can enjoy his cruise. The Noordam is a fine ship. However, I still feel HAL really messed up in this matter. Kudos to Expedia for stepping to the plate and offering something to these folks.

I too hope he and his family enjoy their cruise. However, I don't blame him for his comment that this will probably be his last HAL cruise because of how HAL mishandled his problem. I have to say that if HAL did that to me, I would have just cancelled and found another cruise line. But, I think he had his reasons for needing to take that particular cruise and that's why he agreed to pay more. Hope they take extra special care of him while onboard so as to make the extra money spent worth it.

 

Blue skies ...

 

--rita

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in instances like this a company is penny wise and pound foolish -- the adverse publicity is so much more costly then honoring a price--- i think of the 7-11 clerk who chased a robber out of the store and was fired because he left the store----he appeared on oprah and was offered positions by other similar types of stores

 

when the pentium chip first came out someone found a problem when doing an unusual math problem and they said the chip would be replaced if they could show that they needed a replacement chip for doing this particular problem in their work -----the media got hold of it and after much embarassment they replaced everyones chip

 

on the other hand during the tylenol scare years ago the company immediatlely pulled every box off every shelf in the usa without being asked-------------the company is now bigger and better then ever and the positive publicity didnt hurt either

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If this happened to me, I would cancel immediately. To use a ridiculous simile, when I go to the supermarket, if an item rings up at the checkout for a price higher than that posted in the aisle, I get that item FREE. Of course we aren't talking about a few cents here, we're talking big bucks, and Holland America should be ashamed of themselves. I also wonder if this was a Holland America decision or a decision from the higher ups at Carnival Cruise Lines. Whatever, in my opinion it was a "lousy" decision. I'm a member of the Mariner Society and I will really consider NOT sailing on Holland America in the future. There's a lot of competition out there in the cruise industry and

there are plenty of other cruise lines looking for my money. Holland America should wake up and smell the roses. :rolleyes:

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HAL is getting alot of bad press. USA today ran a story as did the Seattle Times in the travel section. HAL should have bit the bullit on this one. People plan ahead for cruises, with time off, plane fairs, hotel rooms and the cruise itself. Then to have a hugh increase in the price of the cruise does not boad well.

 

Since the cruise lines vary prices like the airlines do why should anyone not believe that this was a underbooked cruise that now had to fill up cabins at lower prices. As the consuming public we are not privey to these pricing decisions, and we will never know the true back story from HAL as to how this happened.

 

The trouble with bad press is that it stays in the back to the consumers mind and only goes away when a rediculously low price is offered by the line to regain its customer base. It would have been much better to have honored the price from the git go.

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Lots of people look for a good deal, particularily on cruises. I'm one of them. It will certainly make me think hard if I see a 'deal' in the future from HAL and wonder, is this really a deal?

 

I love HAL, but they really messed this one up.

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We chose the Noordam because of how new she is. We were lucky that the HAL boards have been so welcoming. However, HAL Corp. really messed up on this one. DH and I will definately think twice next time we cruise again.

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I saw your thread and oh.my.god I'm stunned. What is going on over there? Please keep us apprised....

Best,

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown

Editor

Cruise Critic

 

EDITOR,

 

Not the end of the saga yet,there's more see my message.

 

JAMES J FELLER

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We also had an untoward problem with HAL recently. We sailed on the Noordam on November 4th, our ninth HAL cruise, and brought two other couples with us. We had written confirmation of a $60 shipboard credit, yet this was never posted to our account. The customer service rep on board was pleasant, but after talking to her twice, she said the home office would not honor it because we had "re-booked" at a better price. (Our original cabin was a partial-obstructed view, and then our agent found a "good" deal on a verandah). The confirmation letter was sent AFTER the re-booking!) The coupon we used was from one of the newsletters we subscribe to (Ocean Cruise News) and made no mention of restrictions on cabin pricing.

 

Needless to say, we were very disappointed in the handling of this. The amount of the credit was not much, but it was the way HAL responded to it. We even wrote to Stein Kruse, the President of HAL, but have received no answer. We feel that since Carnival (which has improved) bought HAL, HAL is not quite the same!

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We are one of the estimated 500 people who unfortunately experienced this problem. After much thought and some research on alternatives, we decided to pay the difference ($1,800) and take the cruise. Since it will now be a very expensive vacation for us, we will try very hard not to let it impact our vacation any further.

 

We learned two things from this experience: 1/ Beware of HAL as they make mistakes and don't act honorably and 2/ Never book again with that large internet travel agency because, unlike Expedia, they did nothing to help us.

 

I still cannot understand HAL's attitude on this issue.

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EDITOR,

 

Not the end of the saga yet,there's more see my message.

 

JAMES J FELLER

 

Here's a link to the latest case: Rotterdam pricing problem

 

What is totally incredible to me is how cavalierly HAL is handling this entire matter given the negative PR.

 

The Cruise Critic membership comprises a relatively large portion of the cruise passenger market, present and prospective, and Carolyn offered them every opportunity to explain themselves. They opted not to.

 

Being tone deaf to their market is not a really great marketing strategy for HAL to be using.

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The Cruise Critic membership comprises a relatively large portion of the cruise passenger market, present and prospective,

 

Hi Host Walt, can you elaborate on that? All due respect, I am under the impression that, at least as far as HAL, the CC community is only a small portion of current and potential customers. I would imagine it varies from line to line too. Just curious. Thanks.

Mark…

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My husband and I are also victims of HAL's rip off. We are going to go on the April 11, 2007 sailing as we planned. This is our first and unfortunately our last trip on HAL. I am absolutely stunned by the arogance of the guest relations department at HAL. They could care less if they lose business. Amazing!! They obviously don't need or deserve any more of my business. Kudos to Expedia for splitting the $900.00 upcharge HAL decided to impose on us. Believe me I will request a daily copy of my bill while on board just to be sure they don't decide to charge me $12.00 for a drink that is advertised for $6.00. We have cruised on RCCL, NCL, Princess, Celebrity and Disney. Sorry HAL - you just can't be trusted! :(

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HAL should take note of what INSIGHT VACATIONS did on a $500 pricing error in their 2007 Europe and Britain tour book. I had previously notified them of the error and they were most gracious in responding. It saved us $1000 on the "Golden Explorer" tour, a 16-day land tour from Istanbul to Vienna.

 

 

"QIOTE" Hi there!

Hope you are both well.

Thanks for your note re the tour pricing error. It has been checked out and you were absolutely correct. We will be pleased to honour your booking at the price you paid and fortunately have caught it early enough before other USA guests have been affected. We'll change in 2nd edition when these are printed but in meantime reservations will deal with it on enquiries.

Hope to see you in January at the AAA show as usual!

All the very best,

John

 

John Boulding, Managing Director,

Insight Vacations,

14 Grosvenor Place,

London SW1X 7TS

Tel: +44-20-7468 4103

Fax: +44-20-7970 2855

www.insightvacations.com"END QUOTE"

 

 

Cheers

 

General Max

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HAL should take note of what INSIGHT VACATIONS did on a $500 pricing error in their 2007 Europe and Britain tour book. I had previously notified them of the error and they were most gracious in responding. It saved us $1000 on the "Golden Explorer" tour, a 16-day land tour from Istanbul to Vienna.

 

 

"QIOTE" Hi there!

Hope you are both well.

Thanks for your note re the tour pricing error. It has been checked out and you were absolutely correct. We will be pleased to honour your booking at the price you paid and fortunately have caught it early enough before other USA guests have been affected. We'll change in 2nd edition when these are printed but in meantime reservations will deal with it on enquiries.

Hope to see you in January at the AAA show as usual!

All the very best,

John

 

John Boulding, Managing Director,

Insight Vacations,

14 Grosvenor Place,

London SW1X 7TS

Tel: +44-20-7468 4103

Fax: +44-20-7970 2855

www.insightvacations.com"END QUOTE"

 

 

Cheers

 

General Max

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How do we now know that the price we pay for a cruise is the one that is going to be honoured?

 

I too am reluctant to book another HAL cruise just in case we are given the incorrect price. It does make me think twice about booking HAL.

 

I feel that a big cruise line like HAL and Carnival should have come to the party and let the few cruisers caught up in this mistake have their cabins at the price they were quoted. The Public Relations gained from such a deed would have far outweighed the small amount that they would have lost.

 

I know they have to answer to shareholders but a good deed can be worth a lot more to a Company especially in this case.

 

 

Jennie

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I feel that a big cruise line like HAL and Carnival should have come to the party and let the few cruisers caught up in this mistake have their cabins at the price they were quoted. The Public Relations gained from such a deed would have far outweighed the small amount that they would have lost.

 

I know they have to answer to shareholders but a good deed can be worth a lot more to a Company especially in this case. Jennie

 

It's my understanding from the numerous threads on this topic that this mistake effected hundreds of booking, perhaps as many as 700. One poster estimated the value of the error at about $1MM.

 

While I do think it was beyond goofy for HAL to either not honor the original prices or make a public statement, I do not think there are too many errors in the travel business that are of this magnitude. Had any passenger lost money, I would be the first to scream but in the end, some people were disappointed that the bargain ended up being priced to the market. If they chose to not pay the difference, they got their money back.

 

I am a Realtor. At least once a month I see an error in the Multiple Listing Service....say a $1 million house with a price of $100,000. The error gets fixed and no one gets the house for $100K. What really bothers me about the HAL thing is that they tried to sweep it under the carpet. It's not the way I would have handled it.

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From everything we've read or been told, the error:

 

1. Existed for several days

2. Impacted numerous sailings out of NYC over several months

3. Resulted in bookings accepted in HAL's sytems, booked by qualified TAs(in accordance with HAL's policies)

4. Credit card charges were directly to HAL, not to the TA and were charged promptly

5. Passengers received confirmations from HAL noting paid in full

6. The price was not significantly out of line with other discounted sailings or pricing to be incredible

7. Potential passengers acted in good faith

8. There was a delay before some people were notified, with airline and other reservations made in the interim

9. It was HAL's mistake

10. HAL's reaction was out of the norm for the cruise/travel industry

11. HAL is a large corporation owned by a larger corporation

 

 

HAL should have made good on the original prices quoted and accepted

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I work at a travel agency and our company had 3 clients on the February Noordam sailing. All 3 were affected by this pricing error. They had found lower prices for a higher category on Holland's website so our travel agents had the lower fares added, which we were happy to do. We got the confirmations from Holland showing the lower fares. When it came to do the final payments, we requested new confirmations to confirm the amounts due and noticed that they were now considerably higher.

 

I had contacted our Holland America district sales manager with copies of the original cruise line confirmations and the newly "re-fared" confirmations asking for an explanation and for them to honor their original prices. First she said she was forwarding the issue onto someone higher up and would get back to me with a decision. About 2 weeks later, I hadn't heard from her so I sent her an email for a follow up and received an auto-response saying she was out of the office for the next week. I then contacted someone else and was told that they would forward the issue to their VP of Sales. After another week, I emailed the VP of Sales who advised that they forwarded the issue to their Director of Reservations and that person would be in contact with me.

 

Finally, after another week, I heard back from someone...not the Director of Reservations, but a Reservation Supervisor, who advised that sorry, they weren't going to honor the original fare. They would only give 100.00 per person shipboard credit and the clients could either a) pay the current higher rate they were at with the onboard credits, b) go back to the original category they were booked in and pay the current best rate (which ended up being slightly lower than originally booked) with the onboard credits, or c) cancel without any penalties.

 

The clients all decided to go in the end, but were very upset. One, reluctantly, decided to stay with the higher category and pay 1200.00 more and the other two decided to go back to the category they originally booked at.

 

In the long run, no one was completely satisfied, but they all really wanted to go on this trip and had to make that final decision.

 

The funny thing is, we just found out today that Holland has done it again. We have several clients on the Noordam for March 31, 2007 and Holland America has so graciously increased the fares again claiming they were "double discounted" and the clients were given 100.00 per person onboard credit. Holland did not call, email, or fax anyone at our agency to advise that they had repriced all the bookings again. We are trying to get the cruise line to honor the original prices...again...and we will probably not have any luck...again.

 

If you ask me, this is extremely bad PR. There is obviously something wrong with their reservation system (or maybe the people loading the prices into that system) and they need to do something about it. They should be honoring the prices quoted originally. If there is proof, by means of cruise line confirmations, of that lower original fare, it should be like a contract of sorts and be honored.

 

I have been recommending to any client who is looking for a Holland America cruise to reconsider. And in most cases, they are so disgusted by Holland America's actions...or lack thereof...that they say they will never book with them.

 

I hope this sends a message to Holland that it will cost them in the long run, once word gets out more and that they need to consider changing their policies. Any other cruise line would have honored the original prices.

 

To anyone booked on the Noordam for March 31, 2007, please call your travel agents to find out if this has happened to you too!

 

Sorry for the rant...Thanks for your time!!

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Thanks for taking the time to reply to this msg. I just received a resonse from both the BBB and the Attorney General's office on this matter. HAL sent them a very long letter explaining their policy on what they consider to be a pricing error. To make a very long story short, HAL can do anything they want with their reservations right up until you board the ship. They apparently have some very smart high priced lawyers working in their organization. Maybe HAL should hire smarter people to do their data input for pricing on the internet. They claim that they informed the travel agency I used within 4 days of the mistake and are blaming them for taking another 6 weeks to notify their customers of the increase. In my case it is an additional $900.00 for myself and my husband. As a gesture of good will my t/a is splitting the additional cost with us. HAL will not budge on this issue.

 

If you want to see just how upset people are with HAL go to USA.COM and read the article they ran regarding this matter and the blogs that follow. I printed them out - all 62 pages. Maybe I will post them in the bathrooms on the Noordam.:D

 

We cruise 2 or 3 times a year usually on RCCL and NCL and have never had anything like this happen. We decided to take this cruise because they offer bus transportation from the Albany County Airport which is a nice feature. The other couple we are traveling with and us have now decided to take a limo to NYC. I absolutely refuse to put any extra money into the hands of HAL.

 

This is our first and absolutely our last HAL cruise. We are on the 4/11/07 sailing on Noordam. I will check the roll call for this sailing and perhaps find other victims of HAL. Once I make the final payment I will hopefully get over my anger and start to look forward to the trip.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR !

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Thanks for taking the time to reply to this msg. I just received a resonse from both the BBB and the Attorney General's office on this matter. HAL sent them a very long letter explaining their policy on what they consider to be a pricing error. To make a very long story short, HAL can do anything they want with their reservations right up until you board the ship. They apparently have some very smart high priced lawyers working in their organization. Maybe HAL should hire smarter people to do their data input for pricing on the internet. They claim that they informed the travel agency I used within 4 days of the mistake and are blaming them for taking another 6 weeks to notify their customers of the increase. In my case it is an additional $900.00 for myself and my husband. As a gesture of good will my t/a is splitting the additional cost with us. HAL will not budge on this issue.

 

If you want to see just how upset people are with HAL go to USA.COM and read the article they ran regarding this matter and the blogs that follow. I

printed them out - all 62 pages. Maybe I will post them in the bathrooms on the Noordam.:D

 

We cruise 2 or 3 times a year usually on RCCL and NCL and have never had anything like this happen. We decided to take this cruise because they offer bus transportation from the Albany County Airport which is a nice feature. The other couple we are traveling with and us have now decided to take a limo to NYC. I absolutely refuse to put any extra money into the hands of HAL.

 

This is our first and absolutely our last HAL cruise. We are on the 4/11/07 sailing on Noordam. I will check the roll call for this sailing and perhaps find other victims of HAL. Once I make the final payment I will hopefully get over my anger and start to look forward to the trip.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR !

 

I haven't been able to find the USA Today article. Can you give me a link or an address?

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