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Published: 10:59, 04 January 2019
| Updated: 11:14, 04 January 2019
A ferry company awarded a controversial £13.8 million contract appeared to have copied its terms and conditions from a takeaway business.
The government's decision to award the tender to operate freight ferries from Ramsgate to Seaborne Freight had already been ridiculed because the firm does not own a single ship.
The latest gaffe shows the small print on the company's website included the phrases "placing an order", "delivery driver" and checking a "meal".
The questionable clause reads: "It is the responsibility of the customer to thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order.
"It is the responsibility of the customer to ensure delivery address details are correct and detailed enough for the delivery driver to locate the address in adequate time.
"Seaborne Freight Limited reserves the right to seek compensation through legal action for any losses incurred as the result of hoax delivery requests and will prosecute to the full extent of the law."
The seemingly cobbled together terms and conditions have since been deleted from Seaborne Freight's website, but after the realisation that the firm owns no ships, critics are continuing to hit out at Transport Secretary Chris Grayling for signing off the deal.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted his frustration over the whole scenario.
He said: “Seaborne Freight. No ships, no trading history and website T&Cs copied and pasted from a takeaway delivery site.”
Tonia Antoniazzi, the Labour MP for Gower, said: “This is beyond a joke. It’s not just that the government have panic-hired a firm with no ships to conduct ferry services.
"That firm has literally nothing prepared to suggest the £13.8m handed over to them is a sound investment. They’ve seemingly copied and pasted their terms off a takeaway fast food website, and their login portal sends you back to Google.”
Seaborne Freight is one of three companies that has been awarded the deal to run crossings between Ramsgate and Ostend by the Department for Transport.
The contracts, worth £108 million in total, have been designed to boost ferry shippings in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and state that services must be operational by March 29.
A spokesman for the ferry firm told the Evening Standard: "Seaborne Freight is currently making preparations across its business for re-introducing the Ramsgate to Ostend Ferry service and has been working on the project for the past two years.
Naturally these preparations include ongoing updates to its pre-launch website, including T&Cs."
Speaking on the Today Programme on Wednesday, when it was confirmed dredging work was to begin at Ramsgate port, Mr Grayling batted off criticism for awarding the multi-million contract to Seaborne Freight.
He said: "I make no apologies for supporting a new British business.
"The reality is, it's a tightly drawn up contract that requires them to deliver, but I don't think there is anything wrong with government supporting small business.
"It's a new start up business. Government supporting new British business - there's nothing wrong with that."