As a former employee of a travel agency which made the transition from being traditional to doing everything through a call center and on the Internet, I feel a need to come to their defense.
My suspicion is that Zippyjet's problem relates to dealing with ticketless travel airlines. These airlines use ticketless travel internally, and to the passenger is indistinguishable from an electronic ticket. But there is a significant difference. With an e-ticket, a ticket is still generated, but into the computer rather than onto paper. This doesn't happen with ticketless travel.
The problem comes in that the GDS's cannot handle processing and issuing ticketless travel. A small travel agency can call the airline direct to process the reservation ticketlessly, and the passenger gets the same effect as an eticket. But the online agencies are working with a high volume, thus cannot be constantly calling the airline for processing. Instead, a paper ticket is printed and the ticket number is reported to the airline, either via an OSI or SSR.
Problems mostly crop up when the passenger wants to make changes. If there is enough time, the ticket gets mailed back to the agency who processes the exchange and sends out the new tickets. However, there are many cases when the passenger wants to make a change but there is not enough time. Since the airline itself is not setup to deal with paper tickets more than simply collecting them at checkin, they cannot process the exchange at the airport counter. Thus a passenger feels they are being treated unfairly because they went through an Internet travel agent.
This has problems even with issuing a ticket; many times we would advise the passenger to go directly to the airline to book because we did not have time to print and mail the paper tickets.
So if you work for a ticketless travel airline, and you're tired of dealing with the online agencies paper tickets, convince your carrier to support true etickets through the GDS.
I'm not sure what is happening currently, but when I left we still gave our Internet customers the option of choosing electronic or paper tickets when an eticket was available. We did have people that paid the up to $50/person fee the airlines charge when a passenger does this, plus our ticket delivery fee, for the paper tickets. Not many, but there where a few.
David / MRY