Bought two tickets to fly to Brazil from Flight Centre in London.
Don't usually buy from travel agents as you pay commission on sales, preferring to buy online, but we did on this occasion due to various connecting flights.
On transit we were stopped from boarding our flight to Brazil. My husband is British but me being Australian needed a visa. Dream holiday costing £2500, cancelled!
Contacted our travel agent, only to be asked 'what passport do you have?' Now I appreciate it is our responsibility to ensure we have appropriate documentation for travel, but is it too much to expect that an agent gives you basic information regarding your flight before you buy such a costly holiday? Isn't that what you are paying commission for?
The best bit....after raising our concerns with Flight Centre customer services, we received a letter negating any responsibility on their part (no surprises there) and then going on to say: sorry your trip to Mexico hadn't worked out???
Flight Centre travel agents, since when is Brazil part of Mexico. didn't you even bother reading our email?
Warning to anyone buying flights to Brazil: research it yourself and make sure your flights are refundable. Don't expect any customer care from Flight Centre
I'm sorry your trip ended up like this; it's happened to me too actually (refused entry into Bali about 10 years ago because of a missing visa as I had a different passport than my wife).
At the same time, I don't really see how this reflects on FC at all? If you had bought your ticket online, the exact same thing would have happened (you could argue you would have gotten LESS help if you bought it online). Generally every single letter from a travel agency mentions to check the visa as it's a problem that does occur quite often. The airline would also have mentioned this in a few places, and airlines like BA really push customers to fill in their documentation online now prior to the flight to avoid this kind of thing happening.
The commission you mention is paid by the airline to the agency and having some experience with these things I can tell you it isn't much. 1% of your flight cost would be good. This commission isn't paid by you though, it's paid by the airline, so it's really irrelevant. The only difference typically with booking online is that the commission then goes directly to the airline, or to an OTA like Expedia or Kayak etc. The price difference of buying online or via an agent, for flights with a bunch of stops, is in my experience either 0 or advantage agency.
Customer care is a fascinating thing really. People expect it when they book through an agency, but don't want to pay more for it than booking online, even though their expectancy after booking online is that there will essentially be NO customer care/service. Of course the Mexico/Brazil thing isn't that great of a reflection on their customer care. That suggests it was a template reply where they missed a field, and their having a template reply kind of indicates just how often this happens.
Again, I'm sorry this happened to you and I know firsthand how frustrating this kind of thing can be! Hopefully getting the visa where you were in transit wasn't that difficult and you could get on a later flight?
Thanks so much for your detailed answer!
I think this is a lesson learnt to just book it all myself from now on. The main problem was the tickets were sold to me over the phone, the travel agent took out credit card details and didn't inform us of any terms and conditions until after the sale of the tickets. Normally when buying online, I see the terms and conditions box and am so vigilant, but was not made aware of any terms and conditions at the point of sale :-(