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LETTERS

Home-based and business-minded

October 17, 2004

Regarding "Smart Travelers Save by Following the News" [On a Budget, Sept. 26]: As a member of the National Assn. of Commissioned Travel Agents, an organization of more than 2,500-plus home-based travel agents, I am offended by Arthur Frommer's negative portrayal of home-based agents.

Close to, if not 100%, of the association's members are accredited agents. Many of us had "brick and mortar" agencies until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks, which impacted our industry, and many of us opened home-based offices as a result.

We are still the professionals you meet at store-front shops; we just happen to have offices in our homes. We offer our clients reduced rates because of our now low overhead.

My rates have always been the same or lower than any of the giants. But my clients receive my assistance, my knowledge, experience and expertise.

My local clients enjoy coming to my home office to make their travel arrangements. They enjoy the casual atmosphere and convenience. But many clients are so busy that they prefer e-mail and phone conversations. As home-based agents, we can be more flexible.

The companies that sell questionable travel agent credentials do give independent agents a bad name. Many barely operate within the law. But many may join such outfits for personal travel savings, not to serve the public. As when making any major purchase, a buyer should know the seller's credentials, experience and expertise.

Sandi Sharpe

Owner, Travelcats

Discount Travel

Endicott, N.Y.

The Travel section welcomes letters. Send them to Travel, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012; fax (213) 237-7355, e-mail travel@ latimes.com. Please include your name, address and phone number, for verification only.

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