Jennifer Gagnon had reserved a vehicle on a ferry leaving Pender Island for Tsawwassen at 11:40 a.m. Monday.
At least that’s what she thought.
It turned out that Gagnon was one of dozens of clients who booked a trip from the Southern Gulf Islands at the end of the long vacation weekend only to find out after arriving at the terminal that BC Ferries had sold. trips for a boat that did not exist.
BC Ferries has since apologized online and via email to customers who had purchased reservations for the crossing, which was scheduled online to pick up passengers at Salt Spring Island and Pender Island and take them to the Lower Mainland.
“We sincerely apologize to our customers affected by the planning error between Tsawwassen, Pender Island and Salt Spring Island today,” said the email Gagnon received Monday evening.
Gagnon told CBC that she booked her trip online about two months ago and received a confirmation email just days before the boat’s scheduled departure. She was in a hurry to return to the Lower Mainland to see her mother, who had just had sudden heart surgery.
Paid in full – twice.
Ferry workers on Pender Island told her the boat was not arriving, she was able to make the trip later that day from Pender Island to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island and, from there, back to Tsawwassen.
But Gagnon said she had to pay full price again to board the latter, despite showing the ticket clerk at Swartz Bay that she had already paid for a trip to Tsawwassen online.
She said the whole experience was a “total shock”.
“I have been traveling with BC Ferries for over 30 years … and have never encountered a problem like this before,” said Gagnon. “We actually paid twice for the lack of service.”
It was only after 5 p.m. Monday that Gagnon received an email saying that she would be reimbursed.
“We thank you for your patience and apologize for any inconvenience encountered as a result of this error,” read the email.
@BCFerries I made a reservation months ago for a ferry that apparently doesn’t exist? Otter Bay in Tsawwassen now makes a detour through Victoria and “I hope” they can get us back to “some point”. No guarantees however. Thank you #bcferries 👍🏼 #long weekend @cbcnewsbc @CTVVancouver
Across the Salish Sea, shortly before Gagnon realized she had nothing to do, Judith Barnett had expected to sail at 9:10 am from Tsawwassen.
Customers expected this ship to then pick up passengers from the Gulf Islands and make the return trip.
But there was no boat for Barnett.
“Some people were getting very agitated, as you can imagine,” Barnett said, adding that there were a lot of people stuck who had children and pets.
She said the terminal staff were not to blame but couldn’t provide an explanation either. She too, like Gagnon, had to pay the full price when she was able to board later.
“Someone should have apologized,” Barnett said.
@BCFerries We have a reservation for Long Harbor in Tsawassen for tomorrow 10:50 am – but friends who had the same reservation today, we were told that such navigation does not exist. Can you confirm if our reservation is ok please?
Social media lit up on Monday as other customers in situations similar to Gagnon and Barnett expressed frustration.
The company posted on its Twitter account that the August 2 crossings were incorrectly integrated into its reservation system.
BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall confirmed on CBC radio Tuesday morning that a system problem had caused the incident.
Marshall noted that the weekend had been very busy for ferry traffic and called the situation “really unfortunate”.