As the controversy continues to rage over a WomansDay.com article disparaging travel agents, questions are swirling about the sources quoted in the article. Travel Pulse reached Donna Cambridge, co-owner of Chesterfield Cruise & Travel in Springfield, Mo., who was quoted as saying that agents push particular products to earn more commission or win a bonus or a prize.
"I never said any of those things. I don't even know where it came from or what it's about," she said July 17. "I'm an agent, why would I talk that way about myself?"
Cambridge said she closed her storefront agency about four years ago, but still books some travel from home. When her storefront was open, she regularly did TV interviews and public speaking. "I'm wondering if some of this is taken out of context," she said. "I don't know what to tell you. All I can do is say I'm sorry, I don't know what it's all about."
Cambridge was reached on her cell phone while she was on vacation without a computer or smartphone. She said she hadn't personally read the story, which also said that she had once won a fur coat for selling an Alaska cruise. Cambridge confirmed tthat she did indeed win a fur coat from a cruise line back in the mid-1980s. Cambridge's hometown is in the Missouri Ozarks, where the article's author, Anne Roderique-Jones, hails from, according to her Twitter profile.
Travel Pulse also tried to contact another agent quoted, Wendy Stone, described as a home-based travel agent in Kansas City, Kansas, but was unable to track down a travel agent by that name in the state through Google.
Meanwhile, the number of signatures grew to more than 1,300 on an online petition at Change.org asking WomansDay.com to retract the story, and there were more than 900 comments on the article, virtually all from angry agents. Travel agent organizations and cruise line executives decried the article.
WomansDay.com apologized to travel agents in a note, edited the article and said it will highlight travel agent services in the October issue of Woman's Day magazine and a story in December on WomansDay.com. The website's senior editor, Meredith Bodgas, and the author of the story have not returned emails from Travel Pulse seeking comment.