Patterson Shipping should take responsibility of delay in services

18/01/2018 11:38

The Consumer Council of Fiji is disappointed in the manner in which Patterson Shipping liaised with its passengers after cancelling a trip to Levuka on 15 January, 2018.

 The Council received grievances from consumers regarding the lack of communication by the shipping company. The consumers had paid for their trip and reached the Suva bus terminal on time only to wait for more than half an hour before a staff member of Patterson Shipping informed them that there would be no trips to Levuka on the day. The passengers with the tickets were advised that they could use it on the following day.

 According to the consumers, they were not given any prior notice of the cancellation. There were numerous students scheduled to travel to Levuka on the same trip who were also waiting at the terminal.

 The Council through correspondence with the company established that the trip had to be cancelled on ‘short notice’ due to adverse weather conditions. Further the company advised that phone calls were made to the passengers who had provided their contact details regarding the cancellation. 

However, the passengers who were not reachable via phone but had paid for the trip were not informed in any way regarding the cancellation.  Most of them ended up at the bus terminal to find out about the cancellation there and then.

 This is unacceptable and unbecoming of a crucial service provider. If a trip is cancelled on ‘short notice’, then the company should explore all avenues possible to create awareness amongst its customers regarding the cancellation. In any event, the service provider should have foreseen the deteriorating weather conditions, as the same was expected to ease by Tuesday – 16/01/18. Appropriate actions must have been taken to ensure that the consumers were advised of the cancellation prior to the travel date and time.

 Patterson Shipping should use media outlets to disseminate information regarding any delays and/or cancellation so that consumers are made aware of such incidents.

 The company should not limit its reach to only phone calls, as not all consumers are able to access their phone at all times of the day. The company further needs to be mindful of consumers who travel long distances such as Vunidawa or Wanibuka in order to catch the bus to outer islands. If they are not informed of delays and/or cancellations, they will be left stranded and will have to bear additional costs to return home.

 The Council appreciates Patterson Shipping for implementing a new procedure whereby if they have a short notice cancelled trip they will now be dropping off passengers along the scheduled route (as far as 9 miles) to assist them with their travel home. Nevertheless, in terms of creating awareness, the Council anticipates Patterson Shipping to raise its mechanisms and utilize other avenues available to disseminate information to wider public in a short span of time.