Friday 31 May 2013

Ferry Peculiar

fbb's limo in Q for 1230 ferry yesterday
Moving in this morning
Travellers Tales
One of the reasons why fbb and Mr fbb are moving is to honour the concerns of the wider family. No 1 son put it very succinctly a year or so ago. "I would like you to move to the mainland, dad; so when you have your massive heart attack, I won't have to be queueing for a ferry to come and see you!"

How considerate of the boy.

Whilst the Solent is a useful barrier to keep much of the horrors of the bigger island away from the smaller island, it can present problems. One upon a time, for example, you would know what the car ferry fare was. Single, Return or Day Return. And a price rise for the Summer season.

Now we have "yield management" systems. So when fbb booked his final (?) departing single via Red Funeral for yestserday, 30th May, he found this price on-line:-
£51 with the offer of "Premium Service at £68"; Ouch!

fbb informed Mr fbb of this price. Her riposte, proffered over the clanking chains that bind her to the kitchen sink, was a slight shriek. "I looked earlier and it was only £23.50!"

From £23.50 to £51 in just over an hour seemed a bit harsh, even for "yield management." The good lady was called to the computer. "Perhaps I didn't ask for a single," she opined. "It wouldn't give me a single and kept asking for a return time."

Aha! The game is afoot, Watson.
Look, there is Mrs fbb's price, £23.50. But that's only one way (outward from the Island). So add on a return journey later in the day and, sim sala bim ...
The two together add up to £42.25.

Yes, you've got it; you've done the maths. Single £51, Day Return £42.25. Wonder what fbb booked?

Unfortunately he can't (or won't) answer that question because, when competitor Wightlink was ridiculed for a similar nonsense, their spokesidiot announced, "If we catch anyone buying a day return and NOT COMING BACK, we will ban them for life!" Yes, he really did say that.

And, talking of Wightlink ...

Neighbour and friend Julia is due a visit from her family for the weekend of 7th to 9th June. So, redolent with joyous generosity, she offered to buy the ferry ticket for the gang. Not being computerised, she telephoned and made the booking. "Would you like us to post the tickets or will you collect them at the terminal?"

"My son will collect then at Portsmouth, please." "No problem," came the efficient reply.

About to jettison her usual batch of junk mail a few days later, she spotted an envelope marked "Wightlink". Bemused, she opened same and, yes, you've guessed it, inside were ...
... the tickets her son was to pick up at Portsmouth. With a grimace of resignation, Julia posted the tickets to her boy and, despite the incompetence, all was well.

Until  few days later when another Wightlink envelope arrived ...
... containing a duplicate set of tickets. Then the next day ...
... lo and behold, a third set arrived.

What a ferry bonanza? Should Julia seek to flog the duplicates to her chums and make a tidy profit? Or had she, in a fit of senior citizen insanity, booked the trip three times? The latter certainly did not happen because each ticket has the same reference number. The former ... hummm ... tempting.

Presumably the hand-held ticket checking thingeys would have spotted the error and, instead of being banned for life, Julia and her family would be hung, drawn and quartered and their heads displayed at Gunwharf terminal on blood stained spikes. Customer service? What customer service?

Too great a risk. Far worse than not using the return half of a day return.

But whilst Red Funnel just tells us how wonderful they are ...
... (so much better than the opposition!) ...

... you can enjoy a full account of Wightlink's fares policy on their site. It is much clearer than the opposition's. fbb has edited the text downloaded from the website to clarify some of the more esoteric points.

Prices vary...

By day of scheduled sailing, generally fares are lower for travelling midweek or Saturday or Sunday out of peak periods. Except when the Isle of Wight Festival is on; when we will fleece you until you bleed.

By time of scheduled sailing, generally the fares become lower the later in the day that you travel on the ferry i.e. after 09:55, 13:00 or 20:45 hours. At these times up to three additional passengers travel free on many of the fares. Very late ferries were the cheapest but we've recently withdrawn those sailings completely.

For length of stay away; a stay away of up to 4 nights is generally cheaper than a longer stay, for example. Of course the cheapest deal is not to travel on our services at all.
A quote can be obtained by visiting our online booking system and selecting the ferry crossing and party details for your trip (there is no need to register and if you do we will bombard you with spam by the tinfull) or by calling us on 0871 376 1000 (calls cost 7p per minute plus network extras so we rip you off for a bit more of your money).

On the day of travel normal fares will apply either through the Reservations Office or at our Ticket Offices. In most instances fares will be cheaper if paid for at least the day before travel. A £4 administration fee will apply to most vehicle bookings made via the call centre and most vehicle tickets bought on the day of travel at one of our ticket offices will be subject to a £10.00 administration fee and possible impounding of your accoutrements; which is very nasty indeed. All bookings made online will continue to be exempt from the administration fee.

Reservations and fares are valid on the crossings shown. Should you not travel at these times you may be liable to a surcharge at check-in or be waterboarded before embarking.

Open return tickets may be purchased by telephone or at ports, however a surcharge may be payable when the return crossing is confirmed. We recommend booking a return crossing in order to guarantee your preferred time of travel; a grovelling letter to the Managing Director begging for the space may be useful

Perhaps No 1 son was right!

 Next Bus Blog : Saturday 1st June 

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