Agents across North America have applauded Royal Caribbean on its stand against these agencies, also called MLM agencies, and are still fighting to weed out others who operate under the shady model. John Frenaye, president and CEO of JVE Group in Annapolis, MD, makes no bones about his distaste for card mill agencies. "They are unethical, unprofessional and deceitful," he says. "They are a scourge on the industry."
Royal Caribbean International never named the agencies it cut ties with over underhanded business practices, but news surfaced that two of the so-called "card mill" agencies (agencies that pass on benefits reserved for travel agents to consumers) were YTB and Joystar, both of which say they are being mischaracterized.
Perhaps prescient, Frenaye launched an online petition October 5, encouraging other suppliers to follow Royal Caribbean's lead. He says that the petition has already received 1,500 travel agent signatures, which he estimates represents nearly $2.5 billion in travel sales to suppliers. Some of the main issues he's at odds with regarding the MLM model: suppliers allowing them discounts and other benefits merely for referring themselves and their family to a web site; suppliers paying top commissions from day one; that card mill agencies' idea of helping a customer is referring them only to a supplier's travel agent phone number; soliciting clients under unctuous pretense; and consumers being hoodwinked that they are booking with a trained professional. To view Frenaye's petition, visit [www.petitiononline.com/NOMLM/petition.html]. (DE)