Agents have accused Cook of “pricing independents out of the market”, with some reporting differences of “hundreds of pounds” between certain new direct prices and those available to third-party agents.
Travel consultants told TTG they abandoned potential Cook sales after changes in pricing, which would have led to them “losing money”, while one revealed they had given away “about £2,000” worth of commission in discounts to secure sales since the pricing review began.
Phil Gardner, Thomas Cook’s sales and e-commerce director, said the review, believed to have launched within the last month, involved the company “trialling different price models across our channels for selected destinations, as part of a review of our omni-channel approach”.
A Cook spokesperson said she could not comment on whether the trial could result in a permanent end to the operator’s price parity promise.
Speaking to TTG this week, one independent agent, who did not want to be named, reported a Cuba holiday to be £650 cheaper when booked directly online.
“There’s no pattern to it – more and more destinations are being added all the time,” he said. “It’s stupidity of the highest order – we’ve supported Cook through the bad times, and now it seems they want to ditch us. It’s so short-sighted.”
He also claimed concerns about the review had been “deleted and ignored” on Cook’s independent agents’ Facebook page.
A homeworker, who also wished to remain anonymous, told TTG she had missed out on a booking after it was offered to clients £300 cheaper online, and was even helping to fund the cost of customers’ rail fares to other airports to avoid using Cook’s Caribbean flights from Manchester.
“About 50% of my business is Thomas Cook – this is a real kick in the teeth. I’m so annoyed. I’m telling clients to look elsewhere and switch-selling as much as possible,” she said.