Club Med wants another $3,000 for a vacation I already paid for

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By Christopher Elliott

After Laura Keir pays for her Club Med vacation, she gets another bill for $3,000. If she doesn’t pay, she can’t check in. What should she do?

Question

I booked a mother-daughter trip to Cancun. Before making the reservation, I spent two days working with a travel agent specializing in Club Med. She helped me with preliminary planning but did not look into the airport I wanted or the room type I mentioned.  

I booked the trip online directly through the Club Med site and paid for it. The booking confirmation email showing it’s paid in full, with no outstanding amount or remaining balance. I also booked the flights myself.  

I immediately contacted the travel agent and thanked her for her time. She asked me for my booking number and said she would get my file. I thought she would get a referral credit, and I was fine with that.  

Somehow, Club Med changed my reservation with a new booking number and a deposit due of over $3,000. My travel agent contacted me with the invoice and said it was due that day. But she was not my travel agent. I did not give her my credit card information or contact information, nor did I sign anything with her agency.  

I had paid $4,152 directly to Club Med. My credit card statement shows the payment I made. The travel agent’s invoice shows a different amount. Now I can’t reach anyone at Club Med.  

I don’t know how this happened. My travel agent tells me that Club Med will not let me check in if I don’t pay the balance. Also, I can’t cancel without losing the money I paid. I’m supposed to leave for Mexico in a few days. Can you help me straighten this out, please? — Laura Keir, Glen Allen, Va.

Answer

I see what happened to you. You felt guilty about asking a travel agent for help but then booking yourself, so you figured you would let the Club Med agent take a commission on your vacation. But then things took an unexpected turn.

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I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, let’s talk about travel agents, or travel advisors, as they now call themselves. Agents make most of their money by taking commissions from a travel supplier like Club Med. (It reportedly pays up to 15 percent to agents on bookings.) 

So when you asked an agent for help, and she started pulling up vacation options, she wasn’t doing that just because she was helpful. She wanted to book the vacation and get her commission. You knew that, so when you booked the Club Med stay yourself, you gave her your confirmation number and allowed her to take over the booking.

That’s where this drama should have ended. But it looks like Club Med somehow repriced your vacation and then presented your agent with the new bill. I spoke with your travel agent, and she had no idea why Club Med wanted another $3,000 from you. (Related: Can Club Med really refuse to offer a refund during the pandemic?)

I publish the Club Med executive contacts on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site. You could have emailed one of the names and requested an explanation. I think a quick, polite note might have solved this mystery quickly. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problem.)

I contacted your travel agent, who reached out to Club Med on your behalf. Apparently, it’s accounting department made a mistake and “repriced” your vacation package (that’s industry-speak for charging more). The company reinstated your original booking — minus the $3,000. 

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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