P&O Ferries’ shock decision to sack 800 staff members and suspend services has some customers struggling to get refunds and salvage their travel plans.
The announcement by the ferry firm on Thursday has been met with anger by union leaders and politicians alike. Louise Haigh, the shadow transport secretary, said it was “nothing short of a national scandal” while the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has called for a boycott of the company until the jobs are reinstated.
Those booked to travel on one of the ferries face a scramble to get their money back and the disappointment of cancelled plans.
Aileen Bainbridge was hoping to celebrate her friend’s 50th birthday at the end of this month with a trip to Amsterdam on a ferry from Hull.
But now she says she and her party are struggling to get any kind of refund from P&O Ferries. And she does not want to journey with a firm she fears may use untrained agency staff instead.
She told i: “I tried for an hour on hold yesterday with no luck to get an answer as to what is happening and I have had no replies to two emails.
“I find it shocking what they have done to their staff and if I could afford to write off £250 then I would as I don’t want to travel on a boat with limited trained staff.”
Ms Bainbridge, from Scotland, booked the trip last December sailing from Hull to Rotterdam on 27 March, returning on 29 March.
The party of four were travelling as foot passengers and had booked two cabins for the crossings and a hotel, which is non-refundable, in Amsterdam.
She said there had been a “shocking lack of communication” for customers and the whole trip was now in jeopardy.
“We have no other way of getting there other than a long car journey to Harwich, which isn’t feasible as I need to be back in Scotland on 31 March”, she said, “And to be honest, I don’t want to travel now with a company who treats its employees so coldly.”
She said she was still hopeful they would eventually get a refund for their ferry crossings.
But she added: “I feel so sorry for all the P&O staff and anyone travelling sooner.”
P&O Ferries issued a statement on Friday saying “to try to minimise disruption for our customers, we contacted everyone we could reach.
“If any passengers have any queries about travelling with us, we encourage them to get in touch with our customer services team.
“Our aim is to have the first of our services running again in the next day or two as we lose £1m a day for each day they are not moving.”