Paul Fielding and his wife Grace from Onchan thought they had struck a good deal when they booked a return vehicle crossing with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for £149 on the busy Tuesday immediately after TT.
Until, that is, they were told they could not buy a return crossing if their vehicle was only travelling one way.
Mr Fielding, who lives at West Drive, said: ‘We were going away to collect a trike so we wanted to travel to the UK with no vehicle then return with the trike.
‘When the booking clerk realised that, she said we had no option but to book a single crossing for the trike and a single crossing for two footpassengers, which was a lot more expensive.’
Moreover, Mr Fielding said he was told if they went ahead and booked the cheaper return but arrived with no vehicle, they would simply be surcharged to the level of two single crossings.
‘The way I see it, is we were booking a vehicle space on the boat and if we chose not to put a vehicle in it for one leg of the journey, that’s up to us,’ he said.
The original return fare was £146, whereas the two single fares worked out at £297, more than double. He said the staff had been polite and helpful and, while the company had since given a partial refund of around £60 this still left him out of pocket.
We asked the Steam Packet why Mr Fielding was not permitted to book the return crossing and only use a vehicle space one way.
We also asked if a traveller would be penalised if a vehicle broke down on the way to catch the return ferry and had to be left behind.
Steam Packet chief executive Mark Woodward said: ‘Travelling one way as foot passengers and returning with a trike does not comply with the terms of the special offer. Thus they were correctly charged one way as foot passengers and one way with the vehicle.
‘This is normal practice throughout the travel industry. Single fully flexible/refundable airfares can also be significantly more expensive than discounted special offer returns which inevitably have terms or restrictions attached – it is comparing apples with pears.
‘Our special offers for cars are designed to encourage additional return trips and they have proved very popular over the past 20 years.’