Q – My brother-in-law books his cruises online with Expedia and feels he gets a pretty good deal. Of course he felt that way when he paid about $2,000 over blue book for the Corvette he bought last year. I’ve got an agent in Dearborn (Michigan) I’ve been booking with for the past sixteen years. So my question is this: He got a quote for a cruise I had booked the day before. But he claims he is getting his cruise for $300 less than my agent’s invoice. Any suggestions as to what I should do? I’m not as cheap as he is but still, $600 is real money. No way I would trust booking online or giving them my credit card. So any advice would be appreciated.

A – It really is not complicated. The chances are good that the “deal” is not authentic. Have Mr. Brother-in-Law get you a copy of the quote in writing. Seeing it on a web site means absolutely nothing. It must be presented to him in writing.

Turn it over to your travel agent and she should be able to get the cruise line to match it. In this scenario, it sometimes happens that the pricing is legitimate because the online agency has formed a group and there may be group pricing benefits. But your travel agent will know how to protect you at the same rates. The better cruise lines do all possible to see to it that agents sell on a level playing field. The cruise line will not want to disappoint your agent and lose her support for $300. Your agent, by the way, will not have to go to a lot of work to get this done for you. Every agency has an assigned sales manager from each cruise line. That person will usually own the pricing dispute until it is settled.