Online documentation service Epost Solutions says it is "exploring possibilities" to lower the cost of accessing Thomas Cook paperwork following agent fury at "extortionate" charges.
Epost is currently charging a monthly administrative fee per member of £50 (plus vat) to access documents, such as invoices and Atol certificates, needed for agents to make claims in the wake of Cook’s collapse.
Many agents have taken to social media to protest a shift in pricing on Tuesday evening (24 September) – with many showing screenshots of the Epost website offering membership priced at £12 per month (including vat).
Helen Owen, branch manager of Morgan Travel in Caerphilly, who paid the £50 fee, told TTG she felt agents were being “backed into a corner” to pay the charge and branded it "a disgrace".
Westoe Travel boss Graeme Brett called the price "shocking", claiming Epost was "holding agents to ransom".
David McDonald, managing director of World Travel Lounge, said he had refused to pay the fee “out of principal”.
Epost told TTG its fee had been “calculated at cost” to help agents during the “unusual circumstances” over Cook’s failure.
In a new statement the company explained its actions.
A spokesperson said: "Normally, services are fully automated from the moment the documents are received to archiving. Documents are processed and appear instantly on members’ portals. We have had to turn off Thomas Cook’s servers and processors due to excessive costs and unpaid fees.
"We were under no contractual obligation to provide the additional service for agents to access Thomas Cook’s document. However, we managed to devise a procedure to do that expediently within 24 hours. This new procedure is not fully automatic and requires human resources to revive documents for individual members and the costs reflect that.
"We understand the frustration of some agents, albeit a small fraction, but they have to appreciate that [Epost] is also a victim of this saga and we are trying to help as much as we can, while running a business."
The company added that it was discussing options to potentially lower charges with "groups or clusters of agents".
"The problem is the time it takes to devise new routes for fetching the documents plus the resources and associated costs. We have already made substantial losses since the demise of Thomas Cook and are reluctant to add to the losses," Epost said.
Earlier today, the company said that “due to the urgency” of Cook’s collapse, in the early hours of Monday morning (23 September), it did not have time to create a test environment in which to decide upon its pricing structure – with changes carried out live on the site “after work hours” on Tuesday night.
This led to different pricing being visible at different times.
Epost said its method of sourcing documents was “a semi-manual process that requires resources” and so the costings were necessary.