BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- A small claims court awarded a Los Angeles travel agent $2,363 after the agent sued Princess Cruises for unpaid commissions.

Cecilia Pedroza of Pedroza Travel Center said Princess denied her commission because the line canceled the Grand Princess' May 14 Mediterranean cruise before her clients paid their final deposit.

A Princess spokeswoman said that because the line canceled the sailing, agents with final payment on the books were compensated. Princess' policy for regular sailings is to pay agents when clients sail, she said.

San Francisco travel attorney Al Anolik, who submitted a declaration to the court as an expert witness, said the case has "implications to Renaissance," referring to the former line's bankruptcy case in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Attorneys acting on behalf of Renaissance's estate have sued travel agents to recoup commissions on unsailed itineraries.

Anolik argued that the travel supplier should pay agents compensation "provided they completed their contractual obligation of selling passengers onto the original itinerary."

But a small-claims decision is not a precedent-setting case, other attorneys said, and it doesn't settle agents' age-old question: Are commissions earned at point-of-sale or point-of-departure?

Travel industry attorney Jeff Miller said a small-claims award is "related solely to a small-claim action in that particular court at that particular time."

Pedroza, however, said the award was a victory.

"Travel agents don't have to be afraid to go into small-claims court," she said.

To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].


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