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Brittany Ferries asks for Coronavirus Aid

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Brittany Ferries stops Plymouth passenger service and asks for coronavirus aid

Brittany Ferries has suspended passenger services to and from Plymouth and Portsmouth - and backed calls for a multi-million pound relief fund "to ensure the shipping industry can continue to bring in the food, goods and medicines the UK will need to fight the coronavirus".

The UK Chamber of Shipping spoke with Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst last week and "demanded an immediate multi-million pound government support package".

After the conference call, UK Chamber of Shipping Chief Executive Bob Sanguinetti said: “The world is facing a monumental crisis. Shipping is the lifeblood of our nation and we must do what we can as an industry to keep our supply lines open for a strong and healthy UK.

"Shipowners will adapt to meet the ongoing coronavirus challenges head on.  It will mean changes to infrastructure, employment and processes on ships and in ports, but it will only succeed with the necessary leadership and support from government today.

“We recognise we are living in unprecedented times and we strongly urge the government to set up an emergency relief fund to help the industry in the coming weeks and months.

 

"The UK shipping sector moves 95% of our trade and employs over 180,000 people.  Immediate and ongoing financial support from the government is needed to guarantee the importation of essential medical supplies, food, manufacturing components and other goods, and the future prospects of our seafarers.”   

To keep freight moving and to enable the UK to continue to function, the UK Chamber of Shipping is specifically asking for:

A multi-million pound fund

Clear guidance to ports and local health authorities to allow ships to continue trading, and for the swift disembarkation / repatriation of crew members 

Delays on VAT payments

The use of credit notes for future travel in lieu of refunding deposits

Relief from income tax for seafarers onboard vessels which ordinarily spend over 183 days a year outside the country

Ships laid up in UK ports to continue to receive tax and duty relief for standard supplies

Assistance with the safe return of UK cruise passengers from around the world

A spokesperson for Brittany Ferries told us today: "We support the Chamber of Shipping’s clear message to government.

"As a consequence of this unprecedented global crisis, we have regrettably suspended passenger services connecting Plymouth with Roscoff.

"In fact only five ships in our 12 ship fleet continue operating to France and Spain. And these are operating on a freight-only basis. 

"Plymouth/Roscoff, Portsmouth/St Malo, Poole/Cherbourg and Plymouth/Santander have all been suspended.

"As well as the impact on passengers, we must not forget the disruption this causes to the logistics chain and wider communities served by Brittany Ferries. For example, the regional fishing communities which rely on the links to France and Spain for their livelihoods."

https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/local-news/brittany-ferries-stops-plymouth-passenger-3975755?fbclid=IwAR29hkbv20W9AyOt9m5ma0KLwA20CAFDnFEPZuhAiu_Pl6Muoe4hiRVgGNs

 

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Yesterday a look through the BF posts on Facebook did not make pretty reading. It was toxic. A lot of the complaints were genuine, people who had booked holidays through them and were abandoned throughout the Iberian Peninsula, refunds in cash a huge issue, but the most disturbing was a lack of goodwill towards them. `Pirate` was used quite a bit. But more worrying was that they are `vouchering` only the first part of the journey at any one time. When questioned why not the full amount,the answer was `You`ll have to wait until the return crossing gets cancelled`..The obvious question was then asked and met with the official reply of ` If the situation changes and the ship sails you will not receive any recompense`.ouch. 

   That and various other management replies were too stupid to take seriously. Then coupled with the statement above draws you to the conclusion that BF are on the brink of going under. Asking for British help is ridiculous and must be directed to Macron. Unless they are prepared to re flag some ships under the Red Ensign and employ British Officers and crew ( The French unions would have a throm at that) then its goodnight Vienna..

   Sad but BF have been here before and they got through it. I for one seriously hope for that again. It wouldnt suprise me though if it got nationalised, at least for the next few years. Time will tell

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6 minutes ago, Paully said:

Yesterday a look through the BF posts on Facebook did not make pretty reading. It was toxic. A lot of the complaints were genuine, people who had booked holidays through them and were abandoned throughout the Iberian Peninsula, refunds in cash a huge issue, but the most disturbing was a lack of goodwill towards them. `Pirate` was used quite a bit. But more worrying was that they are `vouchering` only the first part of the journey at any one time. When questioned why not the full amount,the answer was `You`ll have to wait until the return crossing gets cancelled`..The obvious question was then asked and met with the official reply of ` If the situation changes and the ship sails you will not receive any recompense`.ouch. 

   That and various other management replies were too stupid to take seriously. Then coupled with the statement above draws you to the conclusion that BF are on the brink of going under. Asking for British help is ridiculous and must be directed to Macron. Unless they are prepared to re flag some ships under the Red Ensign and employ British Officers and crew ( The French unions would have a throm at that) then its goodnight Vienna..

   Sad but BF have been here before and they got through it. I for one seriously hope for that again. It wouldnt suprise me though if it got nationalised, at least for the next few years. Time will tell

Sincerely hope your wrong Paully, and I know the current situation changes everything but would they have invested in Condor if they were so vulnerable.

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9 minutes ago, Paully said:

 But more worrying was that they are `vouchering` only the first part of the journey at any one time. When questioned why not the full amount,the answer was `You`ll have to wait until the return crossing gets cancelled`..The obvious question was then asked and met with the official reply of ` If the situation changes and the ship sails you will not receive any recompense`.ouch. 

Very ouch - seems very harsh to not refund th return crossing if it's not cancelled - there's not really a way to use it. Not the greatest PR move...

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27 minutes ago, The Ferry Man said:

Very ouch - seems very harsh to not refund th return crossing if it's not cancelled - there's not really a way to use it. Not the greatest PR move...

It's not as bad now as they are cancelled until the 22nd and thus the Easter returns will get refunded (by voucher !). However it was sharp practice as I believe reading some of the tweets that the return could only get cancelled under standard T&C 's  so the deposit element would be lost. This will get harsher ongoing as tickets will be under the new T&C's and could be 100% charge if the cheapest ticket was bought.

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I have to say - and it pains me to say it - all the vibes coming out of BF at the moment (the shoddy way they are treating customers, the appeal for aid that is the topic of the OP) are that this is a company that is on the verge of going under.

Knowing all that we do about both the operational misfortunes and the disastrous decision making of the management over the past few years, I think we can all understand how it has got to this point.  (And it’s not to do with coronavirus, covid is just the last straw in something that has been building for a long time).  But, in my humble opinion, anybody who accepts vouchers from BF at the moment must do so in the knowledge that there is a significant risk that those vouchers may become worthless in short order.

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We have a booking on Bretagne for the end of June. At the moment the first three nights of our holiday are cancelled because the campsite isn't opening until the 4th night of the holiday but I suspect that the remainder of the holiday may well be cancelled too. Thankfully we booked our ferry crossings with the holiday company rather than with BF and I only paid a £50 deposit for the package.

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This is worrying!  It would be good to receive some assurance from the top at BF.  Currently I have vouchers for cancelled crossings in April and have to wait and see about those booked for August.  You never know they might get 'bought out' by an entrepreneur, the French government or a competitor whilst they still have a value.  I would hope that this can be avoided.

What does the team think?

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1 hour ago, nottingham said:

This is worrying!  It would be good to receive some assurance from the top at BF.  Currently I have vouchers for cancelled crossings in April and have to wait and see about those booked for August.  You never know they might get 'bought out' by an entrepreneur, the French government or a competitor whilst they still have a value.  I would hope that this can be avoided.

What does the team think?

I am in a similar situation,  We took the  decision to move April's crossing to May a little while back. We also have a crossing booked for the 2nd September. The last thing I want is BF to take the balance for September in July. I am hoping to cover this with the money already paid for April. Do you think this is likely or are BF restricting the vouchers to new bookings.

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14 minutes ago, nottingham said:

Currently I have vouchers for cancelled crossings in April and have to wait and see about those booked for August. 

If the August crossings still have money to pay, it might be worth considering applying the vouchers to them, they would be slightly more protected then if the first payment was via credit card.

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2 minutes ago, IanN said:

I am in a similar situation,  We took the  decision to move April's crossing to May a little while back. We also have a crossing booked for the 2nd September. The last thing I want is BF to take the balance for September in July. I am hoping to cover this with the money already paid for April. Do you think this is likely or are BF restricting the vouchers to new bookings.

I did check and vouchers can be applied to outstanding balances.

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1 hour ago, David Williams said:

I did check and vouchers can be applied to outstanding balances.

Thanks David. I think unless we want to try legal redress this is the best option.

 

Ian

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Whilst I will certainly not disagree with criticism over the handling of this crisis, refunds, vouchers, lack of clarity and the rest, I still see no point in suggesting, and no evidence backing up said suggestion, that BF "are on the point of going bust". A large proportion of businesses are already, or soon will be negative on cash flow, and needing to assess how to survive. BF are, in my humble opinion, at much less risk of going under than most businesses.

Some have strong views on financial management over the last few years, but stop for a moment to remember the structure of the whole "empire". Central, regional and departmental governments, chambers of commerce, agricultural cooperatives and banks all have skin in the BF game.

Everyone is facing a huge challenge right now, financially and in other ways. If you have easy answers then chime in with them please. I am sure BF management will welcome all constructive suggestions which take into account the realities of the business and the circumstances. I would be delighted for you to show me a magic wand for my own business situation.

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Well, yes.  But I chose my words carefully - all I said was that the words and actions coming out of the company give that vibe.  Didn’t say there was any concrete evidence.  And I’ll be the first one delighted to be proved wrong.

But I find Tony’s OP very worrying.  If the token freight-only service they are providing at the moment specifically is not viable just on the basis of legitimate charges to freight customers then something is wrong.  Unless, that is, they are not charging freight customers and are providing the lifeline service out of goodwill.

But the point about the vouchers is a serious and important one.  Once they’ve been accepted by the customer, there can be no further redress through travel insurance or credit card liability.  Acceptance of the voucher constitutes acceptance that BF has honoured its liability in full.  BF has chosen not to conform to the industry recommendations of allowing a full refund later, giving them a 24 month expiry, and underwriting the company going out of business.  So customers accepting them must be made aware that they are taking a possibly sizeable risk in accepting them.

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In my case I have to make a decision before the middle of April whether to lose £200 deposit or pay over £200 more and gamble on the future. I`m waiting until the last possible time, but I feel it is more likely than not that I will cut my losses and sacrifice the deposit. Still hoping for some more clarity soon...maybe

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2 minutes ago, Paully said:

In my case I have to make a decision before the middle of April whether to lose £200 deposit or pay over £200 more and gamble on the future. I`m waiting until the last possible time, but I feel it is more likely than not that I will cut my losses and sacrifice the deposit. Still hoping for some more clarity soon...maybe

It depends on what is driving your decision, if it is that June is probably not going to be a good month for a holiday, the best response is to amend it to the far future for a cheaper crossing and then amend that when you are ready to book.

If it is that BF will go bust (unlikely),  your credit card offers some form of protection & as you paid for a contract should cover an amended crossing as well.

If it is that BF will cause you hassle and hold onto the money and give you a voucher then yes, that is an issue so I think that vouchers should be used asap (in connection with a booking involving a credit card).

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I`m not convinced travel will be re instated for either France or the UK by mid June. I don`t want to transfer to another time, not this year anyway. But I will see what happens nearer the time

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I have been receiving lots of messages on my Facebook page, so many that I have put up a pinned post asking people not to enquire about their bookings. Forums are not the place for customers to enquire about their sailings. We don't work for BF so we could end up giving out false information.

Edited by TonyMWeaver
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12 minutes ago, Gareth said:

The opportunities to re-book for this year are likely to be very limited.

It is effectively a 'free' option as if you don't pay the balance then the deposit is lost, those tickets with a deposit (Standard and Flexi) can be changed online free of charge and if you change to the start of November on a midweek crossing the ticket price is less anyway and the final balance is not then due to September (I believe - can someone confirm that) . That way the deposit is banked for the future and if it can be used it is a bonus, if BF start obeying their T&C's again, it is possible to reduce the loss further by further amendments to a cheap sailing (I am not sure if it is possible to switch to a 1 one way foot crossing !)

If someone  could confirm whether the above would work that would be useful.

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59 minutes ago, Paully said:

In my case I have to make a decision before the middle of April whether to lose £200 deposit or pay over £200 more and gamble on the future. I`m waiting until the last possible time, but I feel it is more likely than not that I will cut my losses and sacrifice the deposit. Still hoping for some more clarity soon...maybe

I have this same issue, we want to cancel but due to the phone lines being shut. We can't get hold of them to say don't take the remainder of the payment. I have emailed but as travel is after the April cut off date, I don't think they'll have read it before April 7th when payment will be taken. 

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17 minutes ago, Melissa Inness said:

I have this same issue, we want to cancel but due to the phone lines being shut. We can't get hold of them to say don't take the remainder of the payment. I have emailed but as travel is after the April cut off date, I don't think they'll have read it before April 7th when payment will be taken. 

If you can access the booking online, you should be able to cancel it, however cancellation is not usually the best option - amendment usually is depending on the requirements.

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20 minutes ago, Paully said:

Just had an e mail from Stena..they are offering full refunds to their passengers...

And there’s the nub of the problem, BF don’t have deep pockets unlike Stena.

Unfortunately this is costing BF a lot of goodwill.

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3 hours ago, Paully said:

In my case I have to make a decision before the middle of April whether to lose £200 deposit or pay over £200 more and gamble on the future. I`m waiting until the last possible time, but I feel it is more likely than not that I will cut my losses and sacrifice the deposit. Still hoping for some more clarity soon...maybe

Paully , if all you lose is £200 you will have come out of this catastrophe very well. My son, in the restaurant and hospitality business in Hong Kong, is about £100,000 down and may yet go bankrupt. 

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