As part of planning for their new ticketing system CalMac made various proposals to change their ticketing terms and conditions. Many of these were not described as new rules, but as more strict enforcement of the existing terms and conditions.
One of the most alarming proposals concerned how late arrivals for vehicle check-in would be treated. We were told that in addition to losing the reservation and joining the unbooked queue, our tickets would be invalidated. We would need to buy an entirely new set of tickets before being allowed to board. So if we were delayed by heavy traffic, frosty roads or for any reason were late for check-in even by a minute (other than a restricted set of exemptions), our tickets would not be accepted.
It was difficult to understand what the purpose of such a scheme was. A key objective of CalMac’s new ticketing system (and a reasonable one) was to reduce ‘no-shows’, and thereby increase the amount of deck space available. But this proposal would do nothing to address that. This would only have encouraged dangerous driving, and quite likely been a cause of conflict on the quayside. Effectively, it would have fined passengers (perhaps by hundreds of pounds) just for being delayed in traffic. It would also have put considerable pressure on CalMac check-in staff.
We have been arguing firmly for several months now that not only would this proposal be punitive, counter-productive and unjustified, but that it did not comply with the published terms and conditions.
Finally and with great relief we have been told this week that CalMac have agreed not to go ahead, and their conditions of carriage have been amended to be much clearer on this point. This will apply right across the network.
Whilst we’re here ….
A reminder that two hours before sailing time, all tickets (even foot passenger) will be marked as ‘sold out’ on the Calmac website, even if space remains. If you are making a very late plan to travel or considering a change of sailing, the only way you can find out if there is space is by ringing the port.
Similarly, if you need to make a change to your booking less than 2 hours before sailing time (say for example you are running late and need to take a later sailing), the only way of changing your booking is by ringing the port office. If you arrive after sailing time and have not amended your booking, your ticket will not be valid for subsequent sailings. We all know how difficult it can be to get through to the port office on the phone, particularly when travelling. We are asking CalMac to re-consider this rule, and not penalise passengers who have tried to ring but have been unsuccessful through no fault of their own.
And finally ….
The Net Zero, Energy and Transport committee published their inquiry into the Scottish ferry system last week, and it makes for some interesting reading. There is a lot of emphasis on the need to give more influence to island communities and an acceptance that the current set-up is failing in many ways. We’d encourage you to give it a read, and if you have views on how ferry services should be delivered, make sure to let to your MSPs know about it!