State-owned ferry operator CalMac has apologised to customers who have experienced problems using its new booking system launched just last week.
The company admitted frustrated passengers had faced difficulties making payments for tickets relating to nine of its sailing routes immediately after the platform went live last Wednesday.
It also said a number of other problems with the system have cropped up since then, involving customer accounts, emails to passengers being delayed, and even reduced capacity on some sailings.
A CalMac spokesman on Tuesday insisted the initial glitches involving payments for nine routes were fixed within 24 hours and its supplier is now working to resolve the rest “as rapidly as possible”.
Chief executive Robbie Drummond said: “I am sorry for any inconvenience caused to our customers since the launch of our new booking and ticketing platform, and I would like to thank them for their continued patience and support.
“Please be assured that we remain focused on working with our technology and payment suppliers, and our teams are working around the clock.
“We are confident that issues experienced will be resolved, and over time the advantages of the new system will become more obvious both to our customers and our staff.
“We will continue to respond to customer inquiries as quickly as possible and communicate updates through our usual channels.”
It is the second apology CalMac has issued to customers in days, as earlier this week it emerged the amount of compensation it paid to customers topped £450,000 last year – the most it has been forced to pay in the last five years.
The payments, covering meals, accommodation and alternative transport for disgruntled passengers, rose from £261,000 in 2021-22 to £454,000 in 2022-23.
It took the total amount the ferry operator has paid in compensation over the last five years to just over £1.1 million.
CalMac cancelled 11,301 journeys in 2022 and a further 5,781 sailings arrived late.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats, who uncovered the figures using freedom of information legislation, said the data showed it is now a “roll of the dice” whether lifeline ferry services “will be late or cancelled”.
A separate freedom of information request raised by the party also revealed the repair bill for CalMac’s fleet passed £100 million in the last five years, with the cost in 2022/23 alone coming to a total of around £26.5 million.
Addressing the compensation figures earlier this week, Mr Drummond said: “We take our responsibility to provide a reliable lifeline ferry service very seriously and work hard to avoid disruption.
“We recognise that disruption to services due to breakdowns and technical faults is extremely challenging for local communities, and we sincerely apologise to those affected when this happens.”
Ferguson Marine is building two new ferries for CalMac, the Glen Sannox and the as-yet-unnamed Hull 802.
However their completion is now years late, while the costs for the two vessels have risen from £97 million to about £300 million.
The new ships are needed to bolster CalMac’s ageing fleet and to help provide a more reliable service to island communities.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe