Three Certified Vacations brands pulled out of the National Processing Co.`s (NPC) commission settlement system rather than sign on to a program that requires some agents to pay fees to get their commissions.
Certified dropped out in late September, saying it is “not appropriate” to pay agents less than what is due them, according to Ted Mooney, Delta Vacations` president. The decision also applies to Certified`s Continental Vacations and Future Vacations brands.
NPC has been converting suppliers to Agent`s Choice, a more automated settlement system. However, new contracts stipulate that for agencies that don`t sign up for electronic funds transfers and electronic statements, NPC will deduct fees, usually $2 per supplier.
Mooney said Certified preferred taking commission payments back in house rather than accepting the new terms when Certified`s contract came up for renewal. Certified now issues printed checks and statements on the same frequency as NPC had, every two weeks.
The goal, Mooney said, is to find another electronic solution for commission distributions. Trade response, Mooney said, has been positive.
At least two other suppliers—Royal Caribbean and Southwest—continue to do business with NPC outside the Agent`s Choice program, meaning their statements continue to be mailed in print form, and no fees are deducted.
Royal Caribbean`s contract expires in April, at which point the line expects to have only two choices—taking commission payment in-house or signing on for Agent`s Choice.
When Southwest was approached to amend its NPC contract and become an Agent`s Choice participant, the carrier declined because “we don`t feel agents should have to pay to get the money we owe them,” a spokesperson said. If there comes a time when the carrier has no choice, “we`d look elsewhere, even if it meant doing it ourselves.”
Carnival Cruise Lines, meanwhile, has stayed with Agent`s Choice but agreed to cut paper checks for some agencies—fewer than 20—that refused to switch.
Terry Thornton, the line`s vice president of marketing planning, said Carnival received inquiries from about 40 agencies this fall.
He described the number of agencies that since have voiced complaints about the system as “not a groundswell.”
Still, complaints about Agent`s Choice have not dissipated entirely.
Marian Yudin, co-owner of Golden Circle Cruises & Tours, an American Express representative in Laguna Hills, Calif., said the agency applied to go all-electronic immediately on learning, in August, that fees would apply otherwise.
Since that time, she said, the money is showing up at the bank, but she has been unable to get anyone at NPC to respond to numerous requests for a password that would give her access to her electronic reports, which means she cannot be sure what the agency has been paid for; therefore, she cannot pay salespeople whose earnings are tied to commissions