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Old Yesterday, 03:40 PM
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Default NCL - When 50% Off is Not 50% Off

Here's the situation; NCL has a current special that clearly advertises 50% off for the 3rd and 4th person in a cabin. Sounds simple, right?

I'll round the figures for simplistic sake.

I booked a cabin for a client for 4 people and the price for the first two people is $1000 per person plus tax. Based on the advertised sale, the 3rd and 4th person should be paying $500 per person plus tax. So imagine my client's surprise when their price came to $550 per person for the 3rd and 4th person. The obvious question is; why are they not being charged 50% of the 1st and 2nd person price as advertised?

Here comes the fun part.

I read all the Terms & Conditions about the special. First thing you notice is that those things are always written by lawyers, but not even lawyers can understand them. In this case, there is nothing explaining how the 50% off rate is calculated. My client, who happens to be a doctor, is asking for something in writing from NCL explaining how all this works.

Fair enough.

I wrote an email to our BDM (Business Development Manager) at NCL, who had the Sales Department contact me. They explained that the 50% rate is half off the regular rate and not half off any promotional rates. No problem. I asked if they could send me a copy of the Terms & Conditions explaining this or a link to their website showing it. Can you believe this? They don't have it in writing anywhere! Seriously? I've spoken to three people in three different departments and no one can provide me anything in writing that I can provide to my client. Now the obvious question to each of them is; then how do you know how the promotion works? The answer was; they got an email explaining it. Really? An email?

So let's get this straight; NCL is advertising 50% off, yet the client is not getting 50% off. On top of that, there is nothing anywhere to explain how this special works or how the rates are determined. In the absence of any legal Terms & Conditions, the average person can only come to the logical conclusion that this is false advertising.

By comparison, RCCL is advertising Buy One Get One Half Off (BOGOHO). The terms and conditions are clearly stated that this does not include taxes. But the second person is paying 50% of what the first person is paying, period. No if's, and's, or but's about it. Simple and easy to understand and calculate.

When I asked one of the people I talked to at NCL to explain to me what rate is used to calculate to 50% off price, I was told it was 50% off the brochure rate. Naturally, I had to look up the current brochure rate. Nope, wasn't it. I then asked the next person the same question. They said it was off the regular rate. Okay, so then I asked her what is the promotional code she using so I could look it up. She said there wasn't any. I explained to her that every rate used by NCL has a promotional code, even regular rates and brochure rates. She said she had been doing this for more than 20 years and there wasn't any promotional code. I told her, again, there has to be a promotional code or she would not be able to see any rates at all. She finally said that it was based on the Easy Fare rate. I then had to explain to her that the promotional code for that rate is 'EASYFARE'. She hesitated for a while before finally admitting I was right. Gee, now there's a surprise!

So, I look up the 'EASYFARE' price and sure enough, the price for the 3rd and 4th person was $1100. Finally found the promotion used to determine why the 3rd and 4th person in my client's cabin were being charged $550 each.

Here's where it gets confusing; the 1st and 2nd person were being priced under a promotion code that gave them a price less than what they would have been charged under the EASYFARE promotion. In other words, the 1st and 2nd people are under one promotion and the 3rd and 4th are under a different promotion.

And none of this is in writing or explained anywhere!

I've been doing this for more than 13 years and have over 1400 clients around the world, so I've seen alot of specials and promotions that are very ambiguous. Explaining some of these to clients can be a little hard to do, but Iíve always been able to forward the Terms & Conditions to help with the explanation. I have to admit that this one is clearly the worst Iíve ever encountered. And what really surprises me is that NCL's legal department would allow an advertised special that does not have any Terms & Conditions clarifying how the rate is determined, especially if it's not truly a 50% off rate.

Bottom line is, make sure you read and understand all the fine print of any special and don't automatically assume that the large print being advertised is actually what you're going to get.

Pete
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Old Yesterday, 04:17 PM
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If you as a TA does not understand this what makes you think a normal person would ???
people never read the fine print until after the fact and only if a problem arises

I would complain to whoever is incharge of making sure the cruise lines make their policies known to the public in a clearly written document

I would say it is false or misleading advertising on the part of NCL
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Old Yesterday, 04:48 PM
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Pete, OMG, did you get a round a round or what....Then, yes, read all the small print, but in this case, there isn't any print to read.....Gosh, what a joke, and it puts all the travel agents on the spot as well....OY
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Old Yesterday, 10:32 PM
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What's funny is that a supervisor I talked to said she was going to forward my suggestion to the marketing department that NCL include an explanation in plain English on their website, but between her and me, we both agreed it was a waste of our time and it would never happen.

Something so simple becomes so complicated because no one is willing to take responsibility and step up to do the right thing in the best interest of everyone. What does that tell you about a company?

Pete
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Old Yesterday, 11:46 PM
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Pete, it sounds like they have been taking lessons from Congress and our other " Great Leaders " in Washington. They do something , like pass a bill and than say, we had to pass it to know what was in it.
I see these specials all the time--Princess recently had a " special "
advertised to get $400 dollars on board credit per cabin --sounds good til you decipher all the fine print--then you find out it's not so good after all. They throw out the bait and there's always a hook attached somewhere.
if it sounds like a real deal, it usually is---for the cruise lines.
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