When does 11.8 = 13?

Mar 14, 2005
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This seemingly silly question may turn out to further add to the cost of European travel using a ferry.
My outfit is 11.8m overall - tow car 4.5, caravan 7.3m
Therefore it would seem that it requires 12m of deck space following the 'up to' system of whole metres.
Not so according to the ferry company. It needs - according to them - 13m as the caravan is just over 7m.
I have pointed out that an outfit of towcar 4.9m plus caravan of 6.9m also has an overall length of 11.8, but seemingly can be accommodated in 12m space whereas mine, having the same overall length , cannot.
I will not bore you with the various explanations and excuses, none of which stand up to even cursory examination. It comes down basically to ' because that's the way we do it, take it or leave it ' (Oh, and incidentally, we have a virtual monopoly on the routes you use)
The enforcement of this policy has become more evident recently with reports of check-in agents jumping out of the office armed with surveyors type wheel measures and measuring the caravan. This has happened to me. The agent flatly refused to measure the overall length when I asked her to, but the length of the towcar is shown on the ticket anyway presumably taken from reference to the registration number.
The implication of this is that taken over four crossings per year, the extra 1m of space charged for but not required will cost between £60 and £100+ depending on the crossings used.
A nice little earner which does not exactly improve customer relations, allegedly 'so important'
 
Jun 24, 2005
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Would this, by any chance, be the ferry company that operates from Portsmouth?

My outfit is the same overall length as yours and, so far, I've got away with claiming the caravan to be 7mtr. I've not had the "surveyors wheel" treatment but have had them pacing out the length (I got away with it).

Their take it or leave it attitude also applies to carriage of dogs, I object to paying for the dogs to leave the UK when they do absolutely nothing but have no choice. My OH refuuses to allow me to not declare them. I have no problem with paying for them to return to the UK as, at least, there is some paperwork to be completed.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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RayS said:
This seemingly silly question may turn out to further add to the cost of European travel using a ferry.
My outfit is 11.8m overall - tow car 4.5, caravan 7.3m
Therefore it would seem that it requires 12m of deck space following the 'up to' system of whole metres.
Not so according to the ferry company. It needs - according to them - 13m as the caravan is just over 7m.
I have pointed out that an outfit of towcar 4.9m plus caravan of 6.9m also has an overall length of 11.8, but seemingly can be accommodated in 12m space whereas mine, having the same overall length , cannot.
I will not bore you with the various explanations and excuses, none of which stand up to even cursory examination. It comes down basically to ' because that's the way we do it, take it or leave it ' (Oh, and incidentally, we have a virtual monopoly on the routes you use)
The enforcement of this policy has become more evident recently with reports of check-in agents jumping out of the office armed with surveyors type wheel measures and measuring the caravan. This has happened to me. The agent flatly refused to measure the overall length when I asked her to, but the length of the towcar is shown on the ticket anyway presumably taken from reference to the registration number.
The implication of this is that taken over four crossings per year, the extra 1m of space charged for but not required will cost between £60 and £100+ depending on the crossings used.
A nice little earner which does not exactly improve customer relations, allegedly 'so important'

That's interesting. Never having taken a caravan abroad I have not experienced it, but I suspect that trading standards should be informed of their inaccurate methods as technically you are being over charged, and you should have a claim through the CRA as you have not received a service for which you have been charged.

If the company T&C set out a clear table of sizes and you are being charged for the next size up, that is blatant fraud. Also if they try to explain it in terms a get out clause leaving the length assessment to the opinion of a loader, then you could challenge that as an unfair contract term, especially when they have measurement equipment available. It is clear the operators do not know how to measure, so that is a company failing to use suitable trained and competent people to carry out chargeable tasks.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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We had a right faff on last year when we booked ferries for Holland because we had booked prior to getting our new caravan which went from 6.5m to just under 8m . They tried to stick something like £25 admin fees but it was still under the 8m holding for it.
As it happened when we got to the port they were not bothered one bit, they just wanted to have a look inside of it as it still had all the wrappers on the carpet with it being new by 2 months, no measurement sticks or wheels or that !!
 
Sep 29, 2016
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ProfJohnL said:
RayS said:
This seemingly silly question may turn out to further add to the cost of European travel using a ferry.
My outfit is 11.8m overall - tow car 4.5, caravan 7.3m
Therefore it would seem that it requires 12m of deck space following the 'up to' system of whole metres.
Not so according to the ferry company. It needs - according to them - 13m as the caravan is just over 7m.
I have pointed out that an outfit of towcar 4.9m plus caravan of 6.9m also has an overall length of 11.8, but seemingly can be accommodated in 12m space whereas mine, having the same overall length , cannot.
I will not bore you with the various explanations and excuses, none of which stand up to even cursory examination. It comes down basically to ' because that's the way we do it, take it or leave it ' (Oh, and incidentally, we have a virtual monopoly on the routes you use)
The enforcement of this policy has become more evident recently with reports of check-in agents jumping out of the office armed with surveyors type wheel measures and measuring the caravan. This has happened to me. The agent flatly refused to measure the overall length when I asked her to, but the length of the towcar is shown on the ticket anyway presumably taken from reference to the registration number.
The implication of this is that taken over four crossings per year, the extra 1m of space charged for but not required will cost between £60 and £100+ depending on the crossings used.
A nice little earner which does not exactly improve customer relations, allegedly 'so important'

That's interesting. Never having taken a caravan abroad I have not experienced it, but I suspect that trading standards should be informed of their inaccurate methods as technically you are being over charged, and you should have a claim through the CRA as you have not received a service for which you have been charged.

If the company T&C set out a clear table of sizes and you are being charged for the next size up, that is blatant fraud. Also if they try to explain it in terms a get out clause leaving the length assessment to the opinion of a loader, then you could challenge that as an unfair contract term, especially when they have measurement equipment available. It is clear the operators do not know how to measure, so that is a company failing to use suitable trained and competent people to carry out chargeable tasks.

Thanks Prof,

I must remember this, all too often we accept (with or without objection) the conditionsadditional expenses imposed on us without taking the correct actions to prevent us being exploited (whether intentionally or not).

I will make appoint of downloading the CRA tonight (assuming it is available for download) otherwise I will obtain a copy by other means.

John
 
Nov 11, 2009
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PaulT said:
Would this, by any chance, be the ferry company that operates from Portsmouth?

My outfit is the same overall length as yours and, so far, I've got away with claiming the caravan to be 7mtr. I've not had the "surveyors wheel" treatment but have had them pacing out the length (I got away with it).

Their take it or leave it attitude also applies to carriage of dogs, I object to paying for the dogs to leave the UK when they do absolutely nothing but have no choice. My OH refuuses to allow me to not declare them. I have no problem with paying for them to return to the UK as, at least, there is some paperwork to be completed.

Once booking Dover -Dunkerque I set my caravan in the up to 7.0 m box. On providing the make, year and model of the van it was reset into the above 7.0m box. Clearly the ferry operator either knew it was 7.05m or they linked data from the CMHC database as I was booking via the CMHC online system. Yes it was. 7.05 m long. Fair cop I guess.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Thanks everyone for yor replies. I'm in rural France with poor internet so will pick up all the links when I get home next week and where we go from these.. In the meantime I have been trying to contact Trading Standards directly but with little success. They seem to hide behind the CAB webite or County Councils but have yet to make direct contact with Devon/ Plymouth City Trading Standards or with Somerset TS on another matter.
The popular front of encouraging consumers to complain is actually paper thin but yet extremely difficult to penetraty. Equally, some suppliers, e.g. Braodband make it so difficult to complain that many customers simply give up, swallow their losses, and go elsewhere.
I am 82 with poor vision and intend to keep on complaining, but how many of my generation meet the same obstructions without the benefit of my luck to have some technical backgound and simply get, expensively, ripped off ?
I appreciate all your advice and will act on it best I can and hope this will also help the less fortunate.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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We are charged at +14m although the combined unit is only 13.06m in length. They take the vehicle at 5m and the caravan at 9m although car is 4.9m and caravan 8.16m. I argued with them about this and got a £25 refund however when we arrived at the port, out came the measuring tape and guess what no additional charges.
Looking at old invoices they always had the combined length of the two units. Now they have the vehicle at 4.9m and the caravan at "up to 9m"! I am wondering if it is better to use the CC as their lengths are in 0.5m?
A good little scam and maybe warrant an investigation by a journalist from PC to investigate and publish their findings.
 
May 7, 2012
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I have seen the idea of them taking the car and caravan lengths individually and ending up with a higher figure than you should. The only real criteria is the total length of the out fit as that is the deck space it takes up.
I did always wonder about our Eldiss which had an overall length of 6.95 m, was this an effort by Eldiss to beat the length charge or just a coincidence. The Avondale we replaced it with was I think 7.05 m but we always got away with 7 so may be things were different then.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Raywood said:
I have seen the idea of them taking the car and caravan lengths individually and ending up with a higher figure than you should. The only real criteria is the total length of the out fit as that is the deck space it takes up.
I did always wonder about our Eldiss which had an overall length of 6.95 m, was this an effort by Eldiss to beat the length charge or just a coincidence. The Avondale we replaced it with was I think 7.05 m but we always got away with 7 so may be things were different then.
Taking the car and caravan lengths individually and then combining them is the correct way to do it and not the "up to 'x' metres".
 
Mar 14, 2005
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A little update. The CAMC ferry booking service uses increments of 0.5 m for vehicle lengths, but you cannot use this service if your are in the BF Travel Club. This gives a worthwhile discount if you make two trips a year as we do.
Consumer legislation sound good until you try to use it.
Trading Standards will not deal with you as an individual consumer. They refer you to Citizens Advice.
CA just send you a standard thing about the requirements of a contract ( offer, consideration etc) and suggest you write to the supplier. When advised you know about contracts and have written to the supplier several times they go all quiet and make no further communication.

What to do next ? Give up and write it off to experience ?

4 years ago on another issue I attempted to go the legal route. CA advised that Law Society website would identify soliciters in the area who offered consumer affairs service. Of the 6 firms so identified all of which I contacted, none did in fact offer such a service. Challenged on this Law Society just referred me back to CA. Some service.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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RayS said:
A little update. The CAMC ferry booking service uses increments of 0.5 m for vehicle lengths, but you cannot use this service if your are in the BF Travel Club. This gives a worthwhile discount if you make two trips a year as we do.
Consumer legislation sound good until you try to use it.
Trading Standards will not deal with you as an individual consumer. They refer you to Citizens Advice.
CA just send you a standard thing about the requirements of a contract ( offer, consideration etc) and suggest you write to the supplier. When advised you know about contracts and have written to the supplier several times they go all quiet and make no further communication.

What to do next ? Give up and write it off to experience ?

4 years ago on another issue I attempted to go the legal route. CA advised that Law Society website would identify soliciters in the area who offered consumer affairs service. Of the 6 firms so identified all of which I contacted, none did in fact offer such a service. Challenged on this Law Society just referred me back to CA. Some service.

I understand your frustration, but don't think that you will get anywhere trying to involve solicitors. After all the ferry companies set the T&Cs and even if Trading Standards did effect change then i am sure the companies would be like the airlines and put the cost elsewhere.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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We learnt the hard and expensive way that when it comes to consumer issues CAB is generally useless and most solicitors do not seem to have a clue on Consumer Rights as they probably specialise in other fields where they are specialists.
Maybe the issue should be highlighted to Which magazine who seem to champion consumers issues or maybe even on Watchdog?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Trading Standards will deal with individuals, provided the matter in hand falls within their remit. Obviously if they are not empowered to deal with a particular type of concern they won't take it on, and reasonably they may suggest other routes.

Most matters of Consumer Rights falls under civil law, and no solicitor can be forced to take on a case, they have the right to decline a brief. It could be they're very busy and don't have the resources to handle a case, It may be an area of law they are not familiar with, or its possible that based on the information they have received they don't consider the case has any merit or chance of success. However I would hope that in the latter two situations they would have advised the customer accordingly.

The Law Society is very much like the NCC, it is a trade funded lobbying organisation who's prime purpose is to support their associated members. They have limited authority given to them in a Royal charter, but substantially they have no formal teeth to cause a solicited to do anything against their will.

They may recommend a member should take some action, but they can't impose it. The only disciplinary action they can take is to make a recommendation to the solicitors General Office to review a solicitor's licence to operate. The only sanction they can impose is cancel membership of the society which does not stop ex member from functioning as an independent operator.

Only the Solicitors General Office can rescind a license to operate.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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ProfJohnL said:
Trading Standards will deal with individuals, provided the matter in hand falls within their remit. Obviously if they are not empowered to deal with a particular type of concern they won't take it on, and reasonably they may suggest other routes.

Most matters of Consumer Rights falls under civil law, and no solicitor can be forced to take on a case, they have the right to decline a brief. It could be they're very busy and don't have the resources to handle a case, It may be an area of law they are not familiar with, or its possible that based on the information they have received they don't consider the case has any merit or chance of success. However I would hope that in the latter two situations they would have advised the customer accordingly.
.

A consumer cannot contact Trading Standards any more and it has to go through Citizens Advice Bureau. On three different unrelated occasions I was supplied with very poor advice. If I had not investigated further, we would have been severely out of pocket if we had taken the advice CAB offered. I admit I am generalising based on my experience and that there may be some offices that offer the correct and proper advice, but how would the consumer know?
Just to clarify if a dealer ignores the CRA 2015 or even SOGA they could be committing a CRIMINAL offence. Not many people are aware of this as both are legislation passed by parliament. A solicitor may be skilled and very good in their field of expertise, but may be very poor in another field like consumer law so can you really condemn them to investigation? The law society is a toothless watchdog looking after its own interests.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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The matter of poor consumer access to trading standards, solicitors not offering the services they claim nd the general big gap between the publicity surrounding consumer protection and the actuality of trying to use it really needs to be given more publicity.
I have looked at some of the Consumer Correspondents ( or similar tutles) in leading newspapers but find the T&Cs can include not having raised the same issue elsewhere e.g. other papers, Citizens Advice etc. so it appears they 'cherry pick' thier complaint input.
Yet to try Watchdog but You and Yours produced only an automated acknowledgement and no further contact.
 
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Hi Rubbernecker,
In answer to your question I would hope that although it's a 'French Registered Company' as they are operating from our shores, they should comply with our standards. Having been abroad with the caravan on numerous occasions I know this is not the case.
Regards,
 
Jul 18, 2017
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rubbernecker said:
Would trading Standards be able to do much with French registered country ?

We are still in the EU and as said they have offices in Britain so probably yes Trading Standards could do something, but sadly they will not going by past experience.
 
Oct 3, 2013
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Last year,leaving from Portsmouth,the girl at the check in insisted our van was 6.35M long (it;s 5.99M)
and demanded an extra £35.00.We stood our ground and refused to pay.She was using one of these wheels used by road measuring people to measure the length of the van - "this is what we go by" she said.
Eventually another check in colleague checked the length and came up with the correct length ( the que was getting bigger at this point.) - how do you spell que?
One thing the check in girl asked for was proof of length which we did not have,A manufacturer's brochure specifying the length would have sufficed
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Sounds like the same girl as I fell foul of at Portsmouth. I think that if you do 'chance your arm' by filling in the booking form with, effectively, outfit overall length, it would be worth checking the price for 'their @way of doing it and make a note or print a copy of the overall charge. Then, if challenged, offer to pay the difference shown on your ticket and this print out. I've not seen a difference as high as £36 looking at these differences - perhaps on the long route to Spain ?
 

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