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The introduction of a new online booking platform by CalMac on Wednesday (17 May) has generated stress and confusion for customers and staff alike.

That’s been tacitly acknowledged by the company, with a statement on behalf of managing director Robbie Drummond issued yesterday.

But customers were quick to point out that Mr Drummond’s media appearances included no apology, while they still struggled to be recognised on the new system, to make changes to their booking or to find details of a booking already completed.

Mr Drummond’s statement described the implementation of the new system as ‘a complex and transformational change …. which will improve our customer experience.’

He said over 200,000 customer accounts and 145,000 bookings from the previous 26-year-old system had been migrated, while yesterday over 10,000 bookings were received – double the normal number of daily bookings.

Nevertheless, he said: “As you might expect with the introduction of any new platform of this scale, there have been some specific user issues.”

These included some already reported by customers, such as the website only displaying the first five sailings per day. He said this has been resolved, but some customers may need to clear their cache while system supplier E-Dea tries to resolve the issue for all users.

Also detailed in the bulletin were:

  • Payment issues at some locations
  • Text not appearing in boxes on online forms – now resolved
  • Some sailings showing as sold out – now resolved
  • Ticket confirmation emails and password reset emails not being sent

Customers on social media had identified other problems, including calendars displaying only six days in a week and staff unable to help because the system didn’t work for them either.

Others were sharing solutions to the problems, including advising how to ‘clear the cache’ – something CalMac neglected to do.

But there was a tone of desperation in some comments, with people on several routes saying they were now unsure whether there was a ferry and, if so, whether they had a booking to travel on it.

Mr Drummond said: “We have a controlled system in place to log and allocate all issues to ensure these continue to be resolved as soon as possible.

“Please be assured that there will continue to be extensive support in place, dedicated to supporting customers switching over to the new platform.

“We will be providing 24/7 cover as part of our hyper-care support and our supplier remains on-site and working with CalMac around the clock to ensure resolution of issues.

“We are investigating and responding to all customer enquiries and will continue to communicate updates through our usual channels.

“We would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this period of transition.”