Former staff at Monster Travel have dismissed claims that the agency failed because holidays were being sold at below net prices.

The Newcastle agency, which was set up by David Hawke in April 2008, ceased trading yesterday making 94 people redundant. Freedom Travel Group has pledged to honour all forward bookings.

Comments on from rival agents speculated that Monster Travel was selling holidays and cruises at net or less than net prices.

One reader, calling herself northeast travel agent, wrote: “I can assure you that on some of your company quotes your agents were selling at less than the net prices or just very near to the net price. And on cruises you were giving stupid amounts away.”

However, Andrea Gilbertson, a travel sales agent at Monster’s Newcastle call centre, told Travel Weekly: “We were happy to discount, but that was no different to anyone else.

“We never sold at net or less than net because that would have been ridiculous. People are accusing us of not being professional, but I have 15 years in the travel industry and others had more.”

Gilbertson said staff were devastated when they were told to clear their possessions and go home yesterday morning.

“Everyone was sobbing because it was such a fantastic place to work,” she added. “For the staff who came from Freedom Direct – this was the second time they have had to go through this.

“We were a very close team and we thought we were secure.”

A Monster Travel homeworker, who asked to remain anonymous, also said accusations of selling at less than net price were wrong.

“I have never sold a holiday at net price; I wanted to make money and I tried to make as much profit for the company as possible,” she said. “It really hurts when people make stupid comments.”

She said this was the third time in two years that she had lost her job following an agency collapse. She also said she was owed about £3,000 as a result of losing her job at Monster Travel.

“It’s a terrible shock and you don’t know what to do next, only last month they installed a new state-of-the-art phone system in my house,” she said.

Despite all the problems, the homeworker is determined to find a new job in travel.

“It is really tough at the moment and has been ever since the September 11 terrorist attacks. We’ve had earthquakes, tsunamis, ash clouds and all these other problems and we still try to offer our customers the best service,” she said.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen next and when something like this comes along it is soul destroying.”