Woman says Marine Atlantic’s lack of service is ‘unbelievable’

Traveller bringing mother’s remains home to Ontario could not get anyone on the phone

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on August 5, 2013
The MV Blue Puttees ran aground last week, and due to related travel delays, customers have had a hard time getting through to the company as the lines have been busy. — TC Media file photo

A woman trying to get her mother’s remains back to Ontario for burial said she experienced deplorable customer service from Marine Atlantic over the weekend until she drove down to Port aux Basques in person.

Julia Brignall-Cook, originally from Ontario, is a nurse in Corner Brook. Her mother died a week ago Saturday and Cook had her cremated. She said she booked a funeral service and burial for Aug. 15 in Scarborough, Ont., where her mother was originally from.

When she started to call Marine Atlantic on Friday to make reservations to cross, she said, she couldn’t so much as get anybody on the phone.

“It’s kind of unbelievable,” she said. “I just feel that’s the worst I’ve ever seen in customer service.”

Brignall-Cook said when she called the reservation line it was busy all the time and a recording on the customer service line just said the mailbox was full. When she tried to email, it wouldn’t deliver due to the company’s mailbox being full.

Last week one of Marine Atlantic’s ferries, the MV Blue Puttees, ran aground in Port aux Basques sending it out of service for several weeks.

Brignall-Cook said she travels by ferry every other year and in 2010 experienced something similar trying to get back to the island. She managed to get on the ferry by driving to the terminal and speaking to somebody in person.

She decided to do the same thing this time.

“We’re packing up our camper and were going down there and were going to camp on the dock until I can get on,” she said Saturday.

“Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday and for his birthday I’m going to pack him up and we’re going to drive down to Port aux Basques.”

“I’ll just stand there until they talk to me,” Brignall-Cook said.

When Brignall-Cook got to the dock on Sunday, she said, she received remarkably different service than what she experienced on the phone.

“They could not have been kinder to me ... but I never did get anyone on the phone,” she said.

Marine Atlantic immediately booked her for the Sunday night crossing, what they said was the only crossing not fully booked for weeks.

Brignall-Cook wondered what would have happened if she hadn’t decided to just show up.

“I think they should just have more people on the phones,” she said.