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OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate

June 4, 2009 By: George Dooley
 


The Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN), with 7,800 plus members and a highly regarded association, came under fire from Peter Stilphen, president of host agency Coral Sands Travel, who questioned OSSN’s TRUE identification card, which was promptly defended by OSSN president and founder Gary Fee.

OSSN, Stilphen wrote in his recent online newsletter, “has provided over the years, excellent services to the individual travel agent in the form of education, seminars, networking and resource material in addition to sponsoring two of the largest travel agent trade shows of the year. Why has OSSN apparently decided to support the travel industry's worst nightmare, the MLM (multi level marketing)/card mills as well as offering its own version of a photo ID card?" he asks. “Is it all about bringing in new members to the organization or trying to advance their own photo ID card with the TRUE number? Based on my attendance at one of OSSN's seminars recently it appears to be all about promoting and selling the photo ID card first.” Stilphen claims that OSSN runs TRUE as a for-profit corporation while other cards are nonprofit.

OSSN’s Fee reacted sharply to the charges and said that OSSN has repeatedly contacted Stilphen to correct incorrect and misleading information in the effort to discredit OSSN and the TRUE Identification program. “The TRUE program was established to identify agencies for the purpose of recognition by suppliers for commission remuneration to agencies operating with a TRUE Code,” Fee said. There are about 2,200 TRUE card agency users.

“Contrary to his recent comments, OSSN does not support the MLM business model and does not have any MLM agencies within our membership base," Fee said. "Our 'Membership Agreement and Statement of Liability' is clear on this policy.  We and our legal counsel have contacted Mr. Stilphen numerous times with the reconfirmation on this fact and he elects to ignore this proven information.

“The TRUE coding system was not established to provide travel industry discounts," Fee continued. "The TRUE program has been widely recognized by suppliers including cruise lines, tour operators, and major hotel and car rental companies, as well. All agencies with a TRUE Code receive a TRUE CERTIFICATE, just as CLIA ID holders receive a certificate.”

Stilphen charged that: “It is worth noting that the other photo ID cards, namely IATAN and CLIA, come under nonprofit entities with profits going back into training and education. As to OSSN and TRUE's profits, one can only speculate where the profits are going. I can say that most all for-profit companies serve their owners first and not their membership or clients.” Both the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the International Air Transport Association’s IATAN unit offer ID cards.

OSSN countered, saying "Mr. Stilphen questions OSSN’s decision to run OSSN as a 'for profit' corporation. Apparently, he believes that a different corporate filing structure such as a 'nonprofit' makes a better business model. There may be certain tax advantages for a nonprofit company, but what really makes a good company is the people running it. OSSN has an executive team that always has the best interest of our entire membership at the foremost of our goals.  One would be hard pressed to find OSSN members who do not feel they get a great value in service and benefits for their membership price.”

“We, indeed, feel certain that we will always go above and beyond in fulfilling those needs of OSSN members,” Fee said. “The communication between OSSN members and our executive team, including over 78 chapter directors across the U.S., four OSSN regional managers, in addition to a great marketing and advertising staff, web masters, show management team, news editor and our TRUE Administrator is what keeps OSSN at the forefront as an association set out to satisfy an important group of travel professionals- our members!”

Stilphen, a persistent critic of multilevel marketing programs and card mills including Joystar/Travelstar (now in bankruptcy) and YTB International (who recently signed a settlement with the California state Attorney General), argued that any group offering ID cards to agents must put the agents' interest first. Both Fee and Stilphen have reputations as travel agent champions and advocates.

“I know I'm going to be asked, 'Why are you picking on OSSN?'" Stilphen said. "My response is that any organization working with travel agents should have their interests foremost and not provide an easier method to obtain a photo ID card. The recent actions by OSSN are not one of support for the professional travel agent. I believe OSSN should return to its grass roots as a travel agent training and networking organization and abandon their photo ID card as NACTA did. They should also explain their position with MLM's.”

The National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) dropped its ID card earlier this year.

“OSSN was also the recipient of thousands of advertising dollars from the collapsed host agency Joystar while it was a member of OSSN," Stilphen said. "To be fair to OSSN ,there were many media publications who touted Joystar and also received huge monies for advertising. Joystar was also an MLM under its parent name of TravelStar. I would like to mention that these organizations and media folk also stood by and did nothing while Joystar and many suppliers raped the travel agents of their commissions and booking transfers.

“The TRUE coding system, until recently, was maintained by IATAN," Stilphen continued. "TRUE now maintains it own code system and has set up its own, 'check-a-code' website. A commercial operation, TRUE is allegedly now in competition with IATAN and CLIA, both nonprofit organizations as mentioned earlier. All of these leads one to ask, 'Is OSSN presently or becoming another card mill utilizing a new approach?'"

Again, OSSN’s Fee reacted sharply to the charges. “Mr. Stilphen’s leading comments which try to compare OSSN with a card mill is truly a last straw attempt to discredit OSSN," he said. "With over 7,800 travel agent members and 78 active chapters across the U.S., OSSN’s goal to continue to provide ongoing tools, educational opportunities, greater recognition by suppliers, and training to professional travel agents will move forward with the same deliberate pace we have kept for 20 years!

“OSSN is excited to be preparing for our 20th year anniversary as a major association in 2010," Fee said. " It is our professional members that have validated our excellent worth as an organization, which continues to meet their professional needs. This has always been our goal and we look forward to meeting these challenges and achieving even greater goals as a major trade association in the years ahead!’ Fee wrote.

Visit www.OSSN.com or www.americashostagency.com or email Stilphen at liberty3675@embarqmail.com.




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RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Marie
on:
June 4, 2009 - 8:55pm

OSSN IS NOT A CARDMILL!@@@@@@@@@@@@I JOINED OSSN TO AVOID CARDMILLS.@@@@@@@@@@@@GET YOUR FACTS STR8T


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Jane Fencer
on:
June 4, 2009 - 8:55pm

Wondering what is this guy's problem? I was a Joystar agent and he inundated us with email after email to leave and join his group. Rather, I struck out on my own, joined OSSN and the NEST and got my TRUE Card - ALL LEGIT. I abide by federal regulations, have a business license, business account and an EIN number. @@@@@@@@@@@@Do I have a CLIA or IATA? No, I could not afford to get them at the time when I went on my own. Will I get them? Probably not. IATA is doing away with their ID cards and all of the vendors I deal with accept TRUE.@@@@@@@@@@@@He really needs to shrivel up and go away. Doesn't he realize he's doing nothing more than making an ass out of himself and his company?@@@@@@@@@@@@He's just being pissy because he got kicked out of being the chair of PATH because of his behavior. I mean really, is this guy a professional? NO! Why would anyone want to join his company with the way he behaves, I would be ashamed to be affiliated with him in any way.


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Marie
on:
June 5, 2009 - 6:27am

OSSN and TRUE CODE are legit.@@@@@@I have been in business for 3 years.@@@@@@@@@@@@OSSN has helped me learn about the business.@@@@@@I worked at a travel agency with a IATAN. I didn't want to be a worker bee. I wanted to be an AGENCY OWNER. So I did my research on the Travel Industry. I was approached by YTB and CARD MILLS. I came across OSSN. I did my research folks.@@@@@@@@@@@@OSSN provided me with the tools and info in my state of California to get the nec. forms. Such as@@@@@@@@@@@@BUS. LICENSE@@@@@@BUS. BANK ACCT@@@@@@Calif Seller of Travel Cert@@@@@@Participate in TCRC@@@@@@Calif Lic to sell Travel Ins@@@@@@@@@@@@Some of this involves background checks, credit checks, finger printing!@@@@@@@@@@@@OSSN TRUE CODE got me this. I work with Travel Supplier Giants such as Disney, Hilton, Royal Carribean, Starwood etc and earn my commission and living selling to actual travel clients. I do NOT sell membership or websites. I created my own website with my own html coding. I market my own business!


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: DB
on:
June 5, 2009 - 10:41am

Well, from what I can see Stilphen is a bit of a loose cannon, but OSSN does have a Traverus Memebr in Puerto Rico---Traverus was advertising that they were members and had pictures of the Traverus President along with the OSSN Chapter President signing some agreement in Puerto Rico.@@@@@@@@@@@@And I am confused, at one point I was told that TRUE was a number (and not a card), but now there are TRUE people saying they have cards, Stiphein says they are cards and Fee is no longer saying they are not cards.


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Dave Jackson
on:
June 5, 2009 - 12:05pm

Oh Boy, another witch hunt. I can't wait. Look at past presidents of OSSN and where they are now. It won't go any further.@@@@@@@@@@@@I personally like OSSN and their card because it gives agents a valuable alternative to the stupidity of IATAN and IATA cards. It is all a big sham by everyone and very little is done for the agent. They are all in it for the money.@@@@@@@@@@@@Would love to see more scapping.


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Dave Jackson
on:
June 5, 2009 - 12:05pm

Call it IATAN, call it TRUE, if an organization, even a travel agency puts out a card and is large enough to book large amounts of travel, vendors will honor them or lose the travel business. You don't need to spend good money on memberships. The whole idea is stupid.


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Carlanne McCrystal, CTA
on:
June 5, 2009 - 12:43pm

I am proud to say I am a member of OSSN and a TRUE number holder. I have a Seller of Travel license in Washington state and am legitimate in all areas of my business, from licenses, taxes, professional designations, etc. As well as owning a host agency, Stilphen has started yet one more membership-oriented "organization" & is trying to seduce travel agents over to his group & away from established organizations such as OSSN, NACTA, etc. He needs to get on with managing his own business, staying out of others' business and shutting his flapping mouth. He flaps too much to be taken seriously. He is boring.


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Lawrence Hagood
on:
June 5, 2009 - 4:51pm

It appears to me that Coral Sands Travel is a multi level marketing company also.@@@@@@You just have to go to their website and check the fees and commissions.@@@@@@Anything with a tier or production quota is multi level marketing. He also claims to not be a card mill. I think he is wrong because truthfully if any agent grosses $100,000 in sales at 10% they can obtain their own IATA certification and do not need Mr. Stilphen or Coral Sands Travel.@@@@@@If Mr. Stilphen was so pro travel agent why is he gouging them 20% of their commissions when many other reputable hosts only charge 10% of their members commission.@@@@@@Seems to me that Mr. Stilphen is trying to horn in on travel agencies productivity regardless of the size. All the while questioning and perhaps rightly so MLM's and Card Mills.@@@@@@I think he has a definite problem with competition. Otherwise he would give all agents at least 10% commission and share any over-rides with his group from the airlines. Bet he don't. OSSN is a great Org.


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Marie
on:
June 8, 2009 - 1:49pm

Here's some facts:@@@@@@@@@@@@I do have OSSN MEMBERSHIP.@@@@@@You can have two types of cards:@@@@@@@@@@@@1.BASIC OSSN CARD@@@@@@2. OSSN/TRUE CARD: Has the TRUE code printed on it with picture ID.@@@@@@@@@@@@I used to have #2. Mine is expired since last year. Because I never had to use it?!! I don't think I'll get one. What for? Travel Suppliers have our TRUE CODE in the system just like IATAN.@@@@@@@@@@@@Now if I want to do a FAM trip to familiarize myself with a itinerary or hotel that I'm invited to and it requires identification. That's when you need one to identify you as a ACTUAL TRAVEL AGENT. And not a Joe SHMOW off the streets.Then that requires a IATAN CARD or a TRUE CODE CARD as identification along with your business card. @@@@@@@@@@@@That my friends is how that is.


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Mike
on:
June 8, 2009 - 1:49pm

I've been a travel agent since 1989 and an IATA/IATAN Card has always been the standard for agent identification. @@@@@@@@@@@@I don't know why the industry just doesn't pick 1 card and end it there. If you sell enough travel apply for an IATAN Card - THAT'S IT!!!!@@@@@@@@@@@@This is why this industry is screwed up - there is no continuity or standards – why is it so hard to have 1 OFFICIAL Card? @@@@@@@@@@@@You can have other cards, employee etc.. but we only need 1 universal travel agent ID card.


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Richard Smith, Jr
on:
June 8, 2009 - 1:49pm

I am happy to say that I have been an OSSN member and a TRUE agency owner for five years now.@@@@@@@@@@@@I am aggravated at the assertion that OSSN and it's TRUE number system are somehow associated with an MLM scheme or that being a for profit organization is somehow wrong.@@@@@@@@@@@@Mr. Stilphen needs to check his own corporate entity and concern himself with running his own business instead of purveying false and misleading information.@@@@@@@@@@@@I have NEVER been asked, required or otherwise encouraged to "recruit" others to join OSSN. I have recommended the organization to colleagues but that was at my own urging and if they joined I was never compensated for it.@@@@@@@@@@@@As for the photo card, this is COMPLETELY in error! OSSN does not issue a TRUE photo card. OSSN does allow you the option of adding your photo to your OSSN membership card, but does not actively advertise any sort of photo TRUE card. The membership card with the photo option is available to ANY OSSN member even if you do not have a


 
RE:OSSN Defends TRUE ID Card Under Fire From Agent Advocate
by: Sandy
on:
June 8, 2009 - 4:33pm

I agree with Mike---1 card. If ever there was an industry that needs standards it is the travel industry.