SpeedFerries’ multi-trip vouchers should be eligible for refunds, according to a leading UK credit card company.
This comes as LD Lines offers a special deal for holders of these tickets for travel on its own channel crossings.
The Dover – Boulogne ferry company SpeedFerries is in administration and being closed down. It used to offer deals on 10 single-trip vouchers for about 230 pounds.
The administrators, Ernst & Young, advise people who booked by credit card to contact card providers to see if they are eligible for refunds. UK legislation offers a guaranteed refund to credit card users who do not get what they paid for but only if they paid more than £100.
A spokesman for the UK payments association Apacs confirmed this but said it must refer to a single item. It would be necessary to check with card companies as to whether SpeedFerries’ multi-trip offers were applicable, he said.
A Barclaycard spokeswoman said that the multi-trip vouchers would be covered. “It is the amount debited from the card that is important,” she said. However, asked about the situation if a customer has already had at least one crossing using the vouchers, she said it would depend on the small-print of the agreement with SpeedFerries as to whether they are entitled to money back. “We would need to look at the paperwork,” she said. “Credit card firms become liable to give a refund if there was a breach of contract but we would need to look at it case by case.”
The spokeswoman added refunds under the Consumer Credit Act were a last resort. If the claim was for a journey on a date in the future – as opposed to one now passed - they needed confirmation in writing from the administrators that the journey would be impossible. “Sometimes firms are taken over and start running again,” she said. The fact that speedferries.com had published a notice on its website to this effect would not be enough. “This is the same across the industry, not just with Barclaycard,” the spokeswoman said.
If readers wish to forward us details of the contract they made with SpeedFerries for a multi-trip offer we will seek advice about your rights to a refund from credit card providers if you had already started to use the vouchers but not had your full 10 trips. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Apacs spokesman said that there were no guarantees for people who paid by debit card but if you used a Visa card you could ask the issuer to carry out “chargeback” – a system whereby they attempt to reclaim the money from the firm’s bank.
In France there are no legal guarantees of refunds. Some cards offer guarantees, called assurance livraison, but this is often optional, and may not cover bankruptcy – it is necessary to check the small print.
Anyone who has lost money is also being invited to register as an unsecured creditor with the administrators on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org This means you may get a refund after priority creditors have been paid.
Two channel ferry firms – Norfolkline and LD Lines - are offering cheap deals for people who have been unable to make a SpeedFerries crossing. LD Lines has also come up with a specific deal for those who bought multi-trip vouchers. They offer to discount four LD Lines crossings by 75% (or two returns) and then register them on the LD Lines frequent traveller programme and give them 5000 points which, they say, is the equivalent of another free crossing. Customers have to register and book by 31 January 2009 and discounts apply for travel up to 20 June 2009.