Published: 13:57, 23 July 2020
| Updated: 10:19, 27 July 2020
An allegation of profiteering has been hurled at cross channel ferry companies who expect day trippers to pay in excess of £300 in some cases.
Neither P&O Ferries or DFDS are offering day trip tickets from Dover meaning passengers wanting to go to France and return the same day will be billed hundreds from the operators' long breaks tariffs.
Sholden railway worker Justin Oakes wrote a furious letter of complaint to P&O Ferries' customer services department.
He has also reported both Dover operators and Eurotunnel to the government's competition and markets authority for what he sees as coronavirus-related profiteering.
But since writing this story on Thursday, Eurotunnel has now released 45,000 day trip spaces for customers to meet the demand.
Mr Oakes said: "My partner's daughter who is seven has a brain tumour and we're going to have to put her through 18 months of chemotherapy from next month.
"She absolutely loves the Sealife centre in Boulogne and we want to take her as a treat before she starts her treatment.
"I jumped online to have a look. I had a look on P&O and was gobsmacked by the prices. The same for DFDS. And the tunnel will only offer a five day ticket."
His quote from P&O Ferries was for £180 which he says was a shock from the £37 he paid last year.
Now for the same day, prices have rocketed to over £300. This it says is because of the popularity of the limited sailings where the company is focusing on holidaymakers and freight while it runs a reduced three ship service.
Mr Oakes said: "We expect to see a little bit of a mark up.
"They (P&OF) had six ships, they're only running three. Now they're doing redundancies and they're trying to rib us for wanting to go over the channel to do something with the kids.
"It's fundamentally wrong. I think it's profiteering."
Both P&O Ferries and DFDS have responded saying they never offer reduced day trips through the peak summer period and the long breaks tariffs offered are comparable to last year's.
When Kentonline checked P&O Ferries' websites our reporter received quotes of £300 for travel this Saturday and £385 for travel the week after on Saturday, August 1.
To travel this Monday, July 27, the bill would have been £240.
DFDS's prices were £260 to travel this Saturday and £180 for Monday.
Eurotunnel quoted a short stay flexiplus ticket (five day return) at £214.
P&OF has also faced criticism on its own Facebook page
A spokesman for P&O Ferries said: “Due to the Covid19 pandemic, we have reduced capacity on board our ships and are not currently selling day-trips. "Customers who wish to book a day-trip will get our long-break pricing, which is comparable to 2019 prices.
"Anyone who chooses to travel with P&O Ferries for a late summer break can be reassured that we have the highest possible safety standards onboard, including enhanced cleaning routines, space to social distance and complimentary facemasks.”
A DFDS spokeswoman said: "There has been no change to its normal summer pricing structure, which has always focused on longer stays to accommodate holidaymakers and those who are getting away for more than a week at a time. The company has never provided short break offers (day trips, three-day or five-day returns) during the summer months because this is when demand for longer breaks has always been at its highest and there’s a need to make sure that can be met with available capacity.
"Of course this year there’s even more pressure on capacity because the ships are operating with reduced passenger numbers to meet social distancing guidelines.
"Like many travel operators, DFDS operates a demand-based pricing policy, which inevitably means that prices for travel in the summer will be higher than in winter, because there is usually much higher demand to travel during those months.
"Day trip and short break prices will be back from the autumn, though, and DFDS is currently reviewing the offers it plans to make available."
A spokeswoman for Eurotunnel said: "A number of customers have enquired about day trip availability, so following this we have added an extra 45,000 day trip spaces for customers up to the end of August."
More by this authorBeth Robson
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