Wightlink passengers slam ferry booking changes and customer service


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A MAN had to cancel plans to travel to the Isle of Wight to see his elderly parents when Wightlink moved reservations – with the return trip scheduled before arrival.

Keith James was desperate to visit his parents, but after two phone calls to Wightlink, each with an hour and a half of wait, and numerous texts from the ferry operator rescheduling the schedules, the family gave up hope and abandoned.

Her initial plans to come for lunch and bring her 17-month-old son to see his grandparents were dashed due to the decommissioning of the flagship ferry Victoria of Wight, when finally offered a return at 2:40 p.m. an arrival at 3:40 pm the same. day.

“How is it possible?” he asked the county press.

“My parents literally can’t travel because my mom has Parkinson’s disease, and they don’t have room for us, so we were looking for a day trip back because adding a hotel stay makes it very expensive.

“We booked the ticket in advance, but continued to receive texts to say that the schedules had changed. The schedules were impractical besides a long trip with a baby, but every time I I was trying to phone them, I was on hold for an hour and a half.

“Why don’t they work overtime or hire more staff to take care of the phones if they’re so busy?

“At one point I sorted it over the phone and thought it had been resolved, but times have changed again, by text.

“There was no compassion, no consideration for our predicament, and they don’t seem to understand that ferry routes are essential to the prosperity of the island.

“This is the biggest scam I’ve heard of in my life.”

Wightlink told the County Press it had “dramatically increased the capacity” of its contact center with more people answering customer calls and working longer.

They said they were sorry the lines were still busy during rush hour.

A spokesperson said: “All contact center staff should be qualified to handle our complex reservation software to help customers. It is specialized work that requires training and we have recruited all of the trained people we have. have. ”

Keith’s father Barry, 78, of Shanklin, said: “Obviously Wightlink didn’t have a contingency plan, and after their presentation on this, I would hesitate to put them in charge of ‘a used bus ticket.

“My son’s trip finally looked completely unnecessary, he had to leave before he arrived, and the trip is so expensive right now.

“We haven’t seen him since last summer and have only seen the baby twice since he was born. We are really disappointed.”

Social media is full of people complaining that their ferry schedules are shifted to early morning or late evening departures, and people who wait more than an hour to contact customer service.

County Press reader Gary Ash had to cancel his mainland hospital appointment when Wightlink reduced his reservation to two hours after he was due to be seen.

He asks the ferry operator to highlight people traveling for medical appointments.

He said: “Most people, when booking crossings, time them to coincide with the hospital. If hospital bookings were highlighted, this kind of problem could be avoided by offering an earlier crossing and not later, so as not to cancel the appointments.

“I know they have boat problems, but people wait months for a hospital appointment and have enough to worry about.”

Wightlink told the County Press, “We are looking for ways to identify and prioritize people traveling for hospital appointments.”

A County Press reader asked us why the currently redundant Yarmouth Ferry could not be used on the Portsmouth crossing while Victoria of Wight was out of service.

Wightlink said: “The two car ferry services have specific and different operational requirements. All crews must be fully trained and accredited if they are to navigate a different route.

“We have a third Wight class ship on the Lymington-Yarmouth route, but we do not have any spare trained crews who could operate it between Portsmouth and Fishbourne.

“Continuing crew training and maintaining competency between vessels at opposite ends of the Solent is impractical for a very rare unplanned and prolonged outage of one of our vessels.”

They said they had a contingency plan, which involved scheduling additional evening and night services on the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route using St Faith and St Clare.

The spokesperson said: “It gives us enough capacity, but not always at times that customers would prefer.”

The following advice was given: “Wightlink apologizes that the travel plans of many of our customers have been disrupted by essential repair work on the Victoria of Wight engines.

“A lot of customers have had their bookings rescheduled, but we know these alternative crossings won’t suit everyone.

“We offer everyone involved the option to change reservations for another crossing, take a voucher to travel at another time or get a full refund.

“All affected customers will be contacted by Wightlink to inform them of their new reservation.”

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