Travel credit issued during Covid due to expire but some customers not ready

Pricewatch: While Covid rules allow travel abroad now, some feel it’s still not safe

Two readers say they must travel with Irish Ferries before the end of the year or forfeit the money they paid for a trip in 2020 that never happened. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Two readers say they must travel with Irish Ferries before the end of the year or forfeit the money they paid for a trip in 2020 that never happened. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

We have received a number of queries in connection with Irish Ferries and its treatment of customers. “I am writing to express my disappointment in what Irish Ferries has offered in the form of travel credit issued over a time when Government travel restrictions were in place and see if you may be able to help in some way,” started a mail from a reader called Claire.

The original booking was for a return journey in June and July of last year, travelling from Rosslare to Pembroke and coming back to Dublin from Holyhead. “Last year, Irish Ferries selected June 15th as the date of travel they would offer ‘enhanced flexibility’ up to, so with a booking for two weeks later, we missed out on this option and were instead offered either travel credit for travel up to the end of this year or amend our booking for travel up to the end of 2020.

“As travel was not allowed in 2020, this did not seem like a fair or viable option for Irish Ferries to offer and therefore we were left with no other option but to reluctantly accept the travel credit up until the end of this year.”

She says that in early June of last year credit of €459.80 was applied to her reference number which is valid for travel up to the end of 2021.

“There have been numerous emails over and back since, and when I queried how Irish Ferries felt that offering travel credit for a time where travel was not allowed due to Government restrictions was a fair offering, their response was: ‘If you have travel insurance, as your sailing is proceeding as planned but there is a Government-issued restriction or warning against travel to your destination, you can contact your travel insurer to seek a refund in accordance with the terms of your travel insurance policy.’”

Claire says she has been in contact with the ferry company for more than a year from when the travel credit was issued, with Government travel restrictions having been in place for most of that time. “My husband is in his 30s and so has only been fully vaccinated since earlier this month, so really we have only been in a position to travel for less than one month of the 15 months the travel credit has been available for. I am now over seven months pregnant with a baby due in October. We also have two other young children who are now back in school so using this travel credit before the end of the year will be impossible, so I think we may have to forfeit this money which is greatly needed at this time.”

She says that if there was “Government advice not to travel for the time we were initially due to travel in addition to the majority of the time that this travel credit was available for, I just don’t see how this is a fair offering from Irish Ferries, and their attitude of ‘Well the boat did sail even if Government advice was not to travel’ seems absurd. I think the very least Irish Ferries could do would be extend the expiry date of this travel credit for five years in line with other vouchers, if not offer a full refund for a service that has been next to impossible to avail of during the previous and current restrictions.”

Postponing travel

Next up we received a mail from Eddie. “Last year, we had planned to go to France for a holiday, bringing our car and staying at a couple of campsites during the stay,” he writes. “As in the previous number of years, we booked to travel with Irish Ferries. When the pandemic hit and we were not allowed to travel we contacted Irish Ferries and the campsites and agreed to cancel our holiday until this year. Both Irish Ferries and the campsites agreed to this. So they would keep our money and we would travel this year.”

But Eddie is still not happy to travel this year as “we are not convinced that it is fully safe to do so. We asked both Irish Ferries and the campsites if we could once again put off the holiday until next year, when we hope that it will be both safer to travel and relaxed enough so that it would be the holiday that we had hoped for. After contacting the campsites they were fully understanding and they agreed to extend our credit until the end of summer 2022. However, with Irish Ferries we got a totally different response. They are not willing to allow us to postpone until next year and insist that we travel by the end of this year or lose the money.”

Eddie continues: “Even if we felt that we could travel this year there is a discrepancy in the fares and we would still lose out as the balance would expire at the end of 2021. We had arranged to travel with friends, they also had booked and paid in full and they also have received the same response from Irish Ferries.”

We contacted Irish Ferries and received a response which we will allow readers to judge for themselves.

“Irish Ferries has continued to provide connectivity for critical freight services and essential travel and repatriation for passengers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, we have also introduced more flexible terms for amendments and cancellations of bookings, whilst being transparent regarding the T&Cs of cancellation credit provided where customers no longer wished to travel but the sailings operated.We do not discuss individual customer details and suggest that these customers contact customer support to discuss their particular circumstances.”