Thank you both for your replies. Very helpful.
The latest is that having said 'thanks but no thanks, we can't afford it' the agent came back saying that if the situation changed at all he would let us know. I wasn't exactly born yesterday. For a laugh I told him we were students to see how he'd react as he kept e-mailing me and guess what! He has now asked us to let him know what we could afford, perhaps there is something he can do. I'd rather travel through Algeria than use him as our agent. He has already proved himself unreliable and let's face it, dishonest.
I do feel like stringing him along for as long a it amuses me though.
We are now dealing with an agent who replies within the hour to all my e-mails. Which is fine while he doesn't have any of our money. He has asked for 30% up front! Scary. But I guess we have to take the plunge at some point.
Jeff, how far ahead of your trip did you cough up for the arrangement fees?
Thanks again, both, for your advice.