Tanya Fowles (Local Democracy Reporter)
Consumer Council issue advice as P&O provide update on Larne - Cairnryan ferry service
P&O Ferries announced it is making changes to its programme of work resulting in significant disruption across services.
All services between Cairnryan and Larne will remain suspended up to and including 12th April.
The Consumer Council has been engaging with P&O Ferries during this time to encourage the operator to prioritise the needs of its passengers.
P&O has told the Consumer Council:
“All services between Cairnryan and Larne will remain suspended up to and including 12th April.
“All customers that booked directly with us have already been contacted proactively by the port with a phone call and had an email and/or SMS text message with their options. All customers booked will be contacted by email.
“We sincerely regret that it is still the case that we are unable to arrange travel via an alternative operator on this route.
“For immediate and essential travel needs, customers are advised to seek alternatives themselves. All customers are being advised of our full terms and conditions and their rights under Maritime Passenger Rights Regulations. Claims for additional expenses should be sent to email@example.com.
“In line with the rights protected by the Maritime Passenger Rights Regulation, we will provide customers a full refund. We will action these refunds within the next 7 working days, after which funds will be processed by the customers bank and returned to their original payment method.”
The Consumer Council is reminding consumers that by law if your ferry is cancelled P&O Ferries must offer you the choice of an alternative sailing or a full refund.
However, P&O Ferries has previously told the Consumer Council that as it is unable to arrange an alternative sailing through a different company, passengers should make alternative arrangement themselves and they should submit a claim for any expenses incurred.
Richard Williams, Head of Transport at the Consumer Council, said:
“Our advice to P&O Ferries customers who have arranged their own alternative travel through Stena Line, is to keep evidence of any expenses incurred, as well as the Stena Line ticket. The claim, whether for a full refund or additional expenses and compensation, needs to be made within 28 days.
“It is disappointing to see the lack of clarity that P&O Ferries have provided on future sailings which has left passengers with existing bookings unsure of what to do.
“There is also a lack of competition on this route, with Stena Line being the only alternative, therefore choice has been reduced for consumers.
“We will continue to liaise with P&O Ferries and urge them to provide regular updates to its passengers to provide them with some certainty around their travel arrangements.”
For information and advice on your rights as a ferry passenger contact the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 and download the “Plain Sailing” guide.