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My life as an agent: Episode 1 Today's News

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 A few years ago I worked for an operator that handled some government travel bookings. The government officials preferred to limit the amount of personal expenditure that they had to make on trips and as a result we regularly arranged hotel bill backs for their meals, drinks and other extras. 

On one occasion we had done a booking for a high profile minister of parliament who was travelling to the US East Coast.  We had arranged full bill backs with all of the hotels for the VIP traveller and the trip proceeded without issue until the ceo of our company received a phone call in the middle of the night from the owner of the travel agency who had made the booking. He in turn had been woken up by the MP who was complaining that his bill back account had not been properly arranged.  He was very unhappy that the staff were insisting that he made payment for his dinner bill before he left the restaurant.

The consultant who had made the booking called the hotel and tried to rectify the problem but they didn’t seem to know anything about the matter. In fact, it turned out the minister was not even located at the hotel at the time. After many phone calls back and forth it was eventually established that the minister had left the hotel and had gone out to a high end night club for the evening where he had enjoyed dinner and a number of drinks. When he tried to leave the club the restaurateur politely asked him to settle his bill, to which the minister had responded that it was to be sent to his bill back account. When the restaurant staff told him that no arrangements were in place for travel agent bill backs he had become angry and had called South Africa to complain. He failed to understand why his travel agent had been unable to set up bill backs for him in every restaurant in town prior to him departing for his trip.

My life as an agent is a new eTNW series where we share your funny stories, bizarre requests, euphoric highs and hair-pulling moments of being a travel agent. Submissions should be written in an engaging style and must be no longer than 300 words. Publication is at the discretion of the editor and we promise to keep submissions anonymous if requested to do so.

We pay R250 for every published article. Email yours to

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