British Columbia

BC Ferries refunds assured boarding passes

BC Ferries has decided to offer refunds for holders of expired assured loading tickets after customers complained they were not given proper notice they would lose their passes.

BC Ferries has decided to offer refunds for holders of expired assured loading tickets after customers complained they were not given proper notice they would lose their passes.

BC Ferries is offering refunds on cancelled assured boarding passes for 90 days only.

The one-time-only refund applies to customers who purchased assured loading tickets between 1984 and July 25, 2011. Many of those tickets were accessed by scannable cards.

"For a 90-day period, starting July 26, 2011 through October 24, 2011, BC Ferries will provide a one-time cash refund to any customer who has an expired assured loading product, as well as any customer with a current assured loading product that no longer wants the tickets," said a statement issued by BC Ferries on Tuesday morning.

"The reason why we are going to offer time-limited refunds for assured loading is to clarify any confusion about this particular product once and for all," said BC Ferries president David Hahn.

"From now on, all customers must register their cards online, and read and agree to the terms and conditions of the product before they can purchase it, so everyone will clearly acknowledge the tickets have a two-year expiry and are non-refundable," said Hahn.

New cards specifically for assured boarding passes will also be rolled out in November, said Hahn.

Policy reversal

The refunds are a reversal of a new BC Ferries policy that it would not be offering refunds for expired passes, which was rolled out last year.

For years, passengers could trade in unused trips for credit on new passes. But last April, BC Ferries introduced the new policy that meant that after the passes expire, passengers have only six months to exchange them for new ones.

Internal documents revealed the company would pocket $1.2 million from 15,000 expired passes, prompting widespread outrage from customers who felt they were not properly notified of the changes.

One passenger launched a class action lawsuit, but Hahn says that had nothing to do with the decision to offer a refund.

"I think from our standpoint we tried to listen to people...I think it's just the right thing to do right now," said Hahn.

Customer surprised by lost credit

Last year Frances Murray of Nanaimo told CBC News she was surprised to learn BC Ferries cancelled  $737 worth of assured boarding passes on her prepaid card with no recourse for a refund after they expired.

Frances Murray said she was surprised to learn BC Ferries had cancelled a $737 credit on her account. ((CBC))

Murray said although she knew of the time restriction, she did not know that the credit would vanish when the card expired.

Murray said the terms and conditions on the company's website do not say that if customers do nothing, they will not get a refund and she was considering taking legal action against the ferry corporation.

BC Ferries said it sent email notices to customers offering them the chance to make up the difference between the old and new fares. But Murray said she did not receive the email.

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