A Brittany Ferries customer whose sailing to Cork was cancelled believes he was the victim of "shoddy treatment" after the company said it would not compensate him for the extra expense of travelling to another port to get home with a rival carrier.
Pete Bannigan said he, his wife, and another couple were due to sail back from Santander to Cork with Brittany Ferries on Sunday. But the sailing was cancelled due to an issue with one of the company’s vessels, causing havoc for thousands of travellers’ plans.
He cancelled the booking after he had sought advice from the company when Brittany Ferries’ scheduling issues became known. They have now booked a sailing with Irish Ferries out of Cherbourg but it will incur extra expense in terms of hotel stays, motorway tolls and the cost of the petrol they will need to drive the 1,100km distance from where they are now to their new port of departure.
However, despite the project outlay, Brittany Ferries say they will not compensate customers in this situation beyond the refund of their tickets.
“The customer chose to cancel his booking and make his own arrangements to return home,” a spokesperson said.
Had he waited to be contacted by the Irish office, as advised, he would have been given the alternative re-route option out of Roscoff with Brittany Ferries and we would have contributed to travel costs and a night's accommodation en route.”
However, Mr Bannigan showed the Irish Examiner a copy of an email he received from Brittany Ferries after he had emailed them to ask what compensation, if any, would be available for taking a Brittany Ferries sailing from Roscoff. The email he received read: “It's peak season for many of our routes so the reasonable alternative sailings we can offer are very limited and there is little availability.
"As a result, we would advise you cancel your booking with Brittany Ferries and receive a refund. We understand our competitors have some isolated availability but, once cancelled with us, you will need to contact them yourselves.
“Additional expenses can be addressed to your travel insurer and this email should be sufficient evidence for you to make a claim,” the email read.
Mr Bannigan feels it is unfair that Brittany Ferries will not offer any compensation for the extra cost he has incurred because they cancelled his original sailing.
“They as good as told me to cancel. They can’t have it both ways by advising me to cancel, then telling me I should have waited. This is shoddy treatment of their customers.”
Brittany Ferries operates the Pont-Aven vessel between Cork and Roscoff in northern France and Connemara between Cork and Santander in northern Spain. However, repairs to a hydraulic fault affecting the Pont-Aven’s rudder has taken longer than expected, and the Connemara has been brought in to cover the Cork to Roscoff route.
The circumstances have led to cancellations on both routes, and Brittany Ferries says it has offered alternative sailings or a full refund for those who do not avail of the substitute.