BC Ferries Reservations System Zero Tolerance for being late - even 2 minutes!
Management shows Zero Empathy
BC Ferries makes significant revenues through their reservations system which requires you to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to scheduled sailing time.
The next time you are considering making a reservation you may wish to consider our experience.
Date: March 05, 2011 | Time: 8:32 | Location: Swartz Bay (Victoria) BC Ferry Terminal
Manager on Duty: Phil Benbow, Manager Terminal Operations firstname.lastname@example.org
Incident: We are heading to Seattle to pick up our specialty ordered appliances for our B&B kitchen. We pick up our cube van from the rental agency at 8:00 am when they open and head straight for the BC ferries. We arrive in the line at 8:32 am with BC Ferry reservation in hand - cost $17.00
We choose the line with only 1 vehicle in front of us, however, minutes go by with no movement. The line beside us opens up - 2 cars have passed through there while we are still waiting for the single vehicle in front of us to pass. As we back up to move into the other line the car in front of us finally passes through. We re-approach the booth. There is no "reservations" booth so you are at the mercy of the line.
The booth operator is curt and dismissive about our reservation and effectively tells us too bad. No doubt she's been down this road before.
We have since learned the BC Ferry reservation system automatically locks out all reservations at precisely 30 minutes prior to scheduled sailing - even if the Ferry is sailing late it would seem - leaving the ticket agent unable to exercise any discretion after that point.
We are directed to Lane 18 where we park at the front of the line. As we see the lines beside us loading we ask to speak to a supervisor to ask for consideration. BC Ferries Swartz Bay Terminal Operations manager Phil Benbow comes over to our truck. We show him our reservation and our ticket. We explain the entire situation.
We very politely ask Mr. Benbow if he would please exercise his managerial discretion and over-ride the insensitive and unempathetic computerized reservation system and allow us to board please.
Mr. Benbow acknowledged this was within his discretion and authority, however, he did not wish to go against policy - even if only a couple of minutes, even if we rented the van for today and needed to make it to the mainland, across the border and all the way back to Victoria today, and yes, even though we had a reservation and were at the front of a line where he could easily have allowed us to board!
The computerized reservation system needing to have a cut off point is understandable. The ticket agent not having the authority to over-ride the system - ok that's what supervisors are for. The terminal operations manager having zero empathy and consideration when he had the power to make an executive decision - leaves us wondering what's the point of him having authority?
We're now passing the next 2 hours waiting for the next sailing sharing our experience with our readers. Good therapy too. We are much less upset now :-)
- Dieter & Ashley, InnKeepers Birds of a Feather B&B