P & O forgets about customer service

Gosh, now I know why people travel by Eurotunnel. Taking the P & O ferry back on Saturday evening was an object lesson in how companies have pared back on service to boost profits. Ok, so P & O was in trouble because one boat was out at a peak time and therefore delays were inevitable.That was fine but it was the complete lack of any customer care that was the problem.

There was a kilometre long queue to get into the terminal which inched forward at a snail’s pace. I was fortunate as I came in from Calais town centre and rather luckily missed the experience of what must have been an extra two hours delay on the slip road where most people were coming from. However, it still took an hour to register and then find out that the ferry would leave two hours late, 11 45 pm. So a wander off to the restaurant seemed a good idea. However, the pedestrian walkway is hazardous in the extreme, with huge trucks and buses hurtling around oblivious to the influx of people, many with young children. And information was non-existent. As we got to the restaurant – where you had to re-enter France and therefore carry your passport, for which there was no warning given and therefore many people had to walk back several hundred metres to their cars – there was an announcement telling everyone to get back to their cars as departure was imminent. However, that only applied to people booked on the previous ferry, but that was not explained. There were no information screens and no staff to advise passengers about delays.

The food looked too revolting and the queue too long, so we settled for a snack – but the snack area was filthy with old cigarette butts and grime. There were huge queues for toilets, although there were alternative conveniences which people could have used had the facilities been properly signposted. It was really the sort of experience which one might have expected on a bad day in Soviet Russia.  It was clear that there were just insufficient staff, given that this was going to be a busy day anyway, even without the  loss of one ferry and that investment in the Calais terminal is desperately needed.

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