RCCL joins NPC's Agent's Choice program

NEW YORK -- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. signed on with the National Processing Co. (NPC) commission settlement program, which requires some agents to pay fees to get their commissions.

NPC has been converting suppliers to its Agent's Choice settlement program, which provides more automated features than had been provided previously.

But with Agent's Choice, agencies pay fees -- usually $2 per supplier -- each time commissions are paid, if they do not sign on for both electronic funds transfers and basic electronic statements.

Until its previous NPC contract expired this month, RCCL continued to do business with NPC outside the Agent's Choice program.

Its statements were mailed to all agents, but for agencies receiving payment from other suppliers electronically, the money from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity was included in the funds transfer rather than being paid with paper checks.

The cruise line said it had only two choices -- taking commission payment in-house and reverting to manual procedures, or going with Agent's Choice in order to ensure electronic settlement with agencies.

It said taking the procedure in-house and issuing printed checks would have been a step backward for the significant numbers of agencies that already had been receiving commissions from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity electronically. Besides, a spokeswoman said, agents who get electronic distribution "love it."

Therefore, in a letter to the trade announcing the change, the company encouraged agents to opt for NPC's basic package of electronic services in order to avoid paying fees to NPC.

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