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Guest MEMVA

SCAM! Website price bait-and-switch

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Guest MEMVA

Hi - Sharing this every where I can - because I am pretty appalled and disgusted with Royal Caribbean and want to warn people about their bait-and-switch techniques.
This evening, as a celebration of our wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to book a cruise on Royal Caribbean. A trip to Bermuda. Our first cruise ever. We've never been on a cruise and thought we'd try one for a major wedding anniversary we are celebrating, even though we've heard and read some pretty scary things about cruise lines. We used the Royal Caribbean website. When we got to the option of select your stateroom, we were given two options (1) "Let Royal Caribbean Pick Your room" - (price $979) - or (2) "You pick your room" (price $1076.) We selected option #2 for $1076 - assuming this meant we would be given the option of picking our own room!! To be clear - THERE WERE NO OTHER OPTIONS, DETAILS, SMALL PRINT OR OTHER CLARIFICATION OFFERED TO US. THERE WERE SIMPLY TWO OPTIONS DISPLAYED IN TWO LARGE WEBSITE BOXES - NOTHING ELSE!!!!! The website immediately took us to the page where we were asked to provide personal information, which we provided. We were then taken to the payment page. We entered our credit card information and received our booking number. However, we were concerned because we were never given the option of a floor plan to pick our room, so we called the Royal Caribbean number on the screen to better understand the process. We connected to someone who claimed that in order for us to pick our room we had to pay AN ADDITIONAL $92 PER PERSON!! and who kept saying something about 'you picked selection 4b' (as if I am supposed to know what that means!!). I kept trying to explain that no - we had already picked the option on the screen that said "we get to choose our room" - and we had paid the higher price for it already. However, the so-called customer service rep could do nothing to help us and kept insisting that I had to pay more to get the option that I already paid for!!! To make matters worse - if we went back into the online system - the page still appeared which said "#1 Let Royal Caribbean pick your room" $979!!! So, we already paid extra to pick our room, Royal Caribbean customer service staff is claiming we need to pay more, and the website is saying we could actually pay less than we did for the service Royal Caribbean is claiming we purchased!! What a disgusting mess.  If this isn't some sort of scam/bait-and-switch - I don't know what is!!!!

This was our first attempt at a cruise and it will be our last. We weren't sure about cruising to begin with, but now we are. We definitely do NOT want to do business with a company that engages in bait-and-switch scams with their customers.  - Mary M., Virginia.

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Guest MEMVA

Hi - thanks for asking. I cancelled then and there when I was on the phone with the customer service rep. They claim I will get 100% of my money back (including the deposit). I recorded the conversation just to be safe. (I made sure I told the customer service rep I was recording the conversation.) I also got a cancellation number. The whole situation just doesn't make sense. Something was clearly wrong with the website - yet their customer service staff are completely unable to assist. Hugely disappointed and angry.

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It’s a shame you didn’t look at this Blog prior to attempting to make your reservations. The advice and suggestions here are spot on and would have provided you with words of wisdom and guidance in booking your first cruise! Now, you have a bad impression of RCL and cruises altogether, which is a real shame. Cruising is awesome and RCL surely delivers! We always use a travel agent, at no cost to us, to handle everything! Takes away any chance of confusion or possible stress. Hopefully, you can get everything sorted out and go on your first cruise! I’m sure you would enjoy it. And if you don’t, I’m sorry.

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There is a reason that many of us use travel agents to book with Royal. They then have to deal with the website and customer service phone nonsense and all the stress and headaches that come with it. I think it was less a bait and switch scam and more just a website glitch and a customer service agent who just couldn’t comprehend that and/or didn’t believe you for some reason (but still very annoying and I understand your frustration!) If you are willing to give Royal another try, I would try having a travel agent rebook it so that they can navigate that for you. The nice thing is that they come with lots of knowledge and experience and it costs you nothing extra. They get paid by Royal so it’s a win/win. 

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Guest MEMVA

Thanks everyone. Appreciate the nice replies - truly. We actually did quite a bit of research ahead of time - looking into pricing, talking to other folks that had experience cruising,  (including talking to a family member who worked for several years with the cruise lines), looking at different cruise lines, watching videos - and even reading blogs. Never saw anything that said 'use a travel agent' - although I am sure it is good advice. The only thing I will say is that numerous other major companies around the globe - such as airlines, online retailers (large and small), etc., manage to deliver products and services at the price advertised via their website, without a lot of hassle or problems. Airlines are a classic example. They probably do infinitely more business than a cruise line and I've never had a problem booking an airline ticket using the airline's actual website. I recognize that there are a lot of devoted cruisers on this blog - and I totally respect that. But, I will say that one has to seriously question the competency and professionalism of a company on the scale of Royal Caribbean, if they can't even manage their website correctly - and the "word-on-the-street" (so to speak) is "don't use Royal Caribbean's website because it is really bad and you can't trust it." With that said, really bummed because now we have nothing planned for a major milestone anniversary. We'll come up with something, I am sure - but I was interested in exploring a cruise. But perhaps the universe is trying to tell us something...

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I used the Website for my first 2 cruises, on the first 1 had had no issues and everything went smoothly, on the second there were issue. Amount on invoices did match what they had on their system, I owed more than the statements they sent to me stated, transfers I'd booked apparently weren't book... bit of a nightmare.

Since I've switched to using a TA (Mostly from being on here and reading peoples advice) its been smooth, well at least for me, maybe the TA is fighting off all these things that previously I had to but if they are they are doing it very well and keeping the stress of me and the family. Its certainly something I'd now recommend to others now as its no extra cost for you and makes things soo much easier. 

I really hope you get everything sorted as a cruise can be such a relaxing/fun/exciting way to holiday. Don't give up on it

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My husband and I returned recently from a wondeful cruise (Grandeur to the Bahamas). One of my takeaways: the remarkable difference between the truly excellent service on the ship and the awful customer service pre-travel on the phone. I used a TA, but she was mediocre (lesson learned, will find another option for the future), so ended up calling RC a couple of times. In addition to extremely long waits, I got wrong information. For example, was told there was no concierge service for grand suites on the Grandeur. Because I had read this message board in advance (thank you!!!) I knew the info was wrong. I pushed to speak with a supervisor, who corrected the information, but went on to give me other information that turned out to be incorrect. Nothing that impacted how much we enjoyed the cruise, but it was frustrating. I’m sorry you ended up canceling as you may really have enjoyed the trip, but given your initial experience I can’t blame you for backing out. 

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Use the website to get a price and cabin number you want, then just call them to place your booking. Ask them all the question you need to and make repeated calls if needed before final booking. Never had a problem doing it that way

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We always use our AAA travel agent for bookings, although we research RCI website online.  In your shoes, I would be angry about the glitch in the website, but I don't think it is bait and switch.  Hopefully, your experience will help them fix the problem before others are affected.  I have heard others state they get better service from Crown & Anchor folks than from the RCI phone centers.  Again, having an agent has been wonderful for us over the years.

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You have up to 30days to switch to a travel agent travel agent will not charge you any thing also when ever book on line with rcb user what I want then call there cruisel planners. And always get an email recipe 

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Its to bad that this Is the kinda reaction and impression first time users of Royal get. I agree, since they changed the deposit program, the options and process is defn NOT clear or straightforward.

 

This is not a tech glitch or problem like we joke about Royals IT department...it is a blatant effort on Royals part to make this more complicated and/or make it easier for them to collect more $$.....

 

It's a shame, but just another reason and example why I tell everyone NOT to every use the website to book any longer. As I stated before here, I learned the hard way my first few cruises with higher rates and lower incentives by booking Royal directly.

 

That being said..I do love cruising and Royals ships and products so I hope the OP can and will still enjoy their cruise to Bermuda!

 

 

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I've recently seen this when I was looking at an Alaska cruise.  I was trying to figure out what rooms were available.  When I was looking for an Interior for 4 people, it would go from you pick your room to where you put in your info.  I always use a travel agent but I like to figure out my own rooms.  My travel agent later said that the only interior rooms that were available were in a guarantee interior rooms.  It is unfortunate the website isn't more transparent but I don't think it was a bait and switch just a very bad website.  

I do most of my travel plans myself. I also do most of my own research including picking my staterooms, however, I still use a travel agent to actually book the cruise.  In the last 6 weeks, my travel agent had to advocate for me on 3 of my upcoming cruises!  The power behind a good agency can really help one out when things go wrong!

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If there is only 1 room left in a given category you cant really choose between multiple rooms and it will just assign it.  I dont see this as Bait and Switch at all.  RCCL always gives you 24 hours to cancel with 100% refund regardless if you picked a refundable deposit or not.  I would say thats pretty nice of them so you have a chance to get in on a sale and then do all the vacation requests etc the next day.

Bait and Switch would be selling you a balcony room and dumping you in an interior room.

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10 hours ago, MEMVA said:

We selected option #2 for $1076 - assuming this meant we would be given the option of picking our own room!! 

"Assuming" is the key word here. You assumed, instead of verifying. This is a classic example of why working with a travel agent, and NOT booking on your own (especially for first timers) is so important.

There is no bait and switch, just a consumer who didn't do their homework, guessed at what things ought to be, and was disappointed in the outcome.

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Royal Caribbean is excellent in responding to problems. They refund quickly and, as we have found out, often handle complaints just as fast. I don't know of any other company who is as efficient and ethical.

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Guest MEMVA

Hi Matt-- Thank you for your response. However, I must confess that I find your response a little unusual.

First,  I am an executive level communications professional with 30 years of experience, including managing websites at Fortune 50 organizations. I can assure you I am not so naive as to "assume" anything, particularly when it comes to language and words. The website specifically said "You chose your room" and gave the price of $1076. To me (and the vast majority of sensible people) this means exactly what it says - the purchaser gets to pick their room. 

Second, in terms of 'verifying' - the fact that I called RC immediately is proof that I did try to verify. There was no other way to verify anything on the RC website.

Third, my husband and I are extremely experienced travelers. We've traveled the globe, including visits to multiple continents for extended periods of time, such as Europe and Australia. I can assure you that I've made complex travel arrangements multiple times before last night and been very successful at it, solely relying on the language presented on a website.

Fourth, as I stated in one of my other responses, the fact that every other major corporation, such as the airlines, big and small retailers, cloud service organizations, etc, can offer and deliver services and products via a website at the price advertised with no problem, suggests to me that RC has some major issues with their back-end website programming, their website messaging, and their promotions.

And, finally I did extensive research on cruising, including watching countless videos and reading numerous articles and blogs about "Things a First-timer Should Know" - and never once did I read or hear someone say: "Don't book your travel with the cruise line website. They're notoriously bad. Contact a travel agent." NEVER. Ultimately, what you're suggesting is that first time cruisers with a major reputable corporation need to jump through hoops, diving deep into research to plan a simple five day vacation. You're also saying that RC as a company can't be trusted.

I learned a lot from my experience with RC. Unfortunately, I will not be cruising.

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Guest MEMVA
1 hour ago, marti314 said:

If there is only 1 room left in a given category you cant really choose between multiple rooms and it will just assign it.  I dont see this as Bait and Switch at all.  RCCL always gives you 24 hours to cancel with 100% refund regardless if you picked a refundable deposit or not.  I would say thats pretty nice of them so you have a chance to get in on a sale and then do all the vacation requests etc the next day.

Bait and Switch would be selling you a balcony room and dumping you in an interior room.

Hi Marti314 - Respectfully, I can't agree. A classic bait-and-switch is *by definition* "A fraudulent advertising claim or sales offer for a product or service that is not available or not for sale at the stated price, made with the intention of luring customers who are then offered something else or forced to spend more money to get the same thing." This is exactly what RC engaged in when they offered me the option of selecting my room on my own, charging me more for it, then claiming in order to get what I expected, I needed to pay more. 

Perhaps my experience is a website glitch. Either way, it doesn't matter. It left a pretty bad impression of RC.

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Guest MEMVA
1 minute ago, marti314 said:

THANK YOU!

Marti - Not sure what I did to get your hackles raised. Perhaps you work for RC - or perhaps you're just one of those internet trolls like feels empowered behind a computer screen to insult. Based on the other numerous nice respectful responses I've received from folks, I will give the rest of the RC-cruisers the benefit of the doubt and assume they are nice people, and you're just one of those sad folks that likes to try to make other people feel miserable.

To the other respectful, kind folks that have responded. Thank you. I do appreciate your advice, suggestions, and kind words of support.

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Yes, you are so right websites never ever have issues, you must have been targeted personally.

Im guessing you order from Amazon and Im guessing you have ordered something only to have it cancelled on you because of some reason or another.  We should all boycott Amazon, and banks and also grocery stores where the item rings up wrong its all bait and switch!

Searching the rest of this forum i found 0 cases of anyone ever having this issue so I am guessing they are out to get you....    

 

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1 minute ago, MEMVA said:

Marti - Not sure what I did to get your hackles raised. Perhaps you work for RC - or perhaps you're just one of those internet trolls like feels empowered behind a computer screen to insult. Based on the other numerous nice respectful responses I've received from folks, I will give the rest of the RC-cruisers the benefit of the doubt and assume they are nice people, and you're just one of those sad folks that likes to try to make other people feel miserable.

To the other respectful, kind folks that have responded. Thank you. I do appreciate your advice, suggestions, and kind words of support.

You had an issue, RCL fixed the issue, sounds like a good outcome to me but you felt the need to bash a company and make some conspiracy claim on a site where people take truly enjoy talking about Royal Caribbean Cruises.  

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Guest MEMVA
Just now, marti314 said:

Yes, you are so right websites never ever have issues, you must have been targeted personally.

Im guessing you order from Amazon and Im guessing you have ordered something only to have it cancelled on you because of some reason or another.  We should all boycott Amazon, and banks and also grocery stores where the item rings up wrong its all bait and switch!

Searching the rest of this forum i found 0 cases of anyone ever having this issue so I am guessing they are out to get you....    

 

Marti - I have never had a bait and switch experience on an airline website or any major retailer's website. I am not suggesting that anyone is out to get me. And, I am a little baffled by your hostility. What I described as happening on the RC website is exactly what happened. It was frustrating and I felt it was important to share this with other cruisers - experienced or first timers.  I am respectfully asking that you please quit trolling and attacking me or I will report you to the site owners. Thank you.

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3 minutes ago, MEMVA said:

This is exactly what RC engaged in when they offered me the option of selecting my room on my own, charging me more for it, then claiming in order to get what I expected, I needed to pay more. 

You've got it backwards. You get a discount for allowing RC to choose your room.

As for "needing to pay more", this is no different than if you book an airline flight and select a seat with extra leg room or an emergency exit row seat. Preferred room options come with a higher cost. 

12 minutes ago, MEMVA said:

I can assure you I am not so naive as to "assume" anything

In your original post, you wrote in big, bold letters "assuming this meant", so yes, you did assume.

I understand this isn't your first foray into travel, but cruise vacations are different from land vacations. I'm not sure why you did not stop when you reached the point of not seeing the options you expected and completed the booking.  

I'm sorry your first experience was not to your liking, but I think your experience and/or expectations were out line with pretty much everyone else here. If you think you've discovered some vast conspiracy by Royal Caribbean to dupe their customers, well, I'm sorry to say that simply is not the case.  Reading your experiences speaks to a first time cruiser who made assumptions and ended up with a different result than they expected. 

My advice going forward is to give RC another try, but employ some of the advice and strategies we all happily share.  I think with a bit more footwork, you could easily come away with a great cruise vacation.

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