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Questioning Travel Agent

Questioning Travel Agent

Old Sep 3, 18, 7:10 pm
  #1  
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Questioning Travel Agent

Agent is based in BA. Using her to book a trip to Uruguay. Comes highly recommended. She told us today that her agency only accepts wire transfers due to the Argentine economy fluctuations. Once she processes the credit card, converts the money back to U.S. dollars, inflation would have killed her conversion making it impossible to book our itinerary. Seems absurd. What is FTs take on this?
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Old Sep 4, 18, 5:42 am
  #2  
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I would never wire money to a travel agent. You lose all protections that come with your credit card.

Why do you need a BsAs travel agent to go to Uruguay, presumably from Argentina?
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Old Sep 4, 18, 5:54 am
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Can you not book on line yourself?
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Old Sep 4, 18, 5:57 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Why do you need a BsAs travel agent to go to Uruguay, presumably from Argentina?
The agent came highly recommended, her company is based in BsAs, but she is an “expert” all things Uruguay as well...

Totally agree about the protections. Just weird. Attached is the agent’s note.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 6:05 am
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You're still not answering the question. You can book flights, hotels, the hydrofoils between BsAs and Uruguay, etc. by yourself. What exactly does this travel agent do for you, even if this "expert" doesn't charge you any additional fees?
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Old Sep 4, 18, 7:29 am
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This is an odd situation -- the TA's, not Argentina's (although that one is also odd).

Wire transfers from US to Argentine bank accounts usually involve high commissions, so while I understand her needs, a wire transfer doesn't seem the right option. Unless, of course, she is asking you to do a wire transfer to a US bank account, in which case:
1) you need to really trust her;
2) you should start some heavy bargaining, as there's no way the Argentine tax authority will know about wire transfers between the US accounts, i.e. she will skip paying taxes over her services.

I would never do a wire transfer to a TA (neither in Argentina nor anywhere else) for obvious reasons, and I also believe there are no services TAs offer that I cannot book online. But if you really want to use her services, I would offer her an advance payment through credit card and the rest you pay upfront in crispy green Franklins once you get to Argentina. If she is so worried about the volatility of the exchange rate, this should fit her needs.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 2:34 pm
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Her itinerary called for truly unique experiences beyond that of a hotel stay, dinner booking and car rental. I couldn't plan this trip to Uruguay on my own, I'd need a fixer to do what she has set-up. That said, I wonder if another respected specialist can do the same thing and take a credit card. We shall see...

...good to see FT thinks a wire transfer to a TA is weird.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 6:15 pm
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Originally Posted by juammer View Post
Agent is based in BA. Using her to book a trip to Uruguay. Comes highly recommended. She told us today that her agency only accepts wire transfers due to the Argentine economy fluctuations. Once she processes the credit card, converts the money back to U.S. dollars, inflation would have killed her conversion making it impossible to book our itinerary. Seems absurd. What is FTs take on this?
WAIT A MINUTE! You are being taken to the cleaners. This explanation makes no sense. It is an advantage in the first place to charge and be paid in US dollars, and the rate in a month's time will be evn more benficial for them! Most travel agents are happy to be paid in pesos, and now they want even more? Maybe there are gringos that buy this crap, and good for the TA's if they can find fools that will.

And the part about the truly unique experience is nonsense too. Uruguay is Uruguay, it is what it is, no secrets there. You do not need a specialist for the simple and easily understandable U. There is no "deepest, darkest Uruguay" that requires help to navigate or buy tours that are out there for easy pickings.

Last edited by David Beach; Sep 4, 18 at 6:24 pm
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Old Sep 5, 18, 1:18 am
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I do not understand her logic.
The OP pays by CC - his dollars are with her right away (next day)
The Op pays by wire - his dollars are with her also right away (maybe 2 days after)

What does she mean by " when we are paid one month later" ? What and why does "one month later" come into the picture?

Also, she mentions "credit card charges".
In my understanding these charges (whatever high) are paid (deducted from the payment received)
or billed into merchants account. Both metods work on spot, no further adjustment in the future to worry about.
But this somehow is her concern. I do not understand that, either.
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Old Sep 5, 18, 7:05 am
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I don't want to go off-topic, but just to clarify:

In Argentina, credit cards don't transfer the money to the merchant right away, but rather it takes 15-20 days for the money to be transferred from the CC into the merchant's bank account. It's an old an problematic issue, mostly due to lack of regulation and zero competition in the credit card business (a pool of large banks owns the one company that operates the Visa and Mastercard brands here, and Amex, while independent, plays their game). This is why you'll see many stores (particularly the smaller ones that only cater to locals) accepting debit but not credit cards -- debit cards transfer the money in 48 hours or so. The Central Bank has been taking measures to address this issue, and over the last few months I have noted many small stores in BA now accept CCs under the Mercado Pago scheme, which is Argentina's version of PayPal. According to a friend who owns a small wine store, Mercado Pago transfers him the money in 7 days instead of 15-20, and the commission is lower.

Under this scenario, the TA will get OP's money, converted into pesos, 15-20 days after OP paid. I am not really familiar with how exchange rates work in those cases, but from what I read I understand she is afraid the CC will convert dollars into pesos at the rate of the day OP paid, instead of the rate of the day she got the money. I can see what she means, but I just can't understand why she won't take a small deposit through CC and ask OP to pay cash upfront once he gets to Argentina.

That said, I agree with David Beach. There is no hidden or geheimnis Uruguay. It's a small, straightforward country. Maybe OP can tell us what the TA was offering him and we can help finding the way to book the same services without the TA.
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