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Poor quality of service and customer care from Black Prince Holidays at Stoke Prior.

Quick summary

1 week holiday 17th-27th September 05 , crew of  7... 

Essentially, the boat had a leak in the drinking water system, which was reported to the company, first by phone, then confirmed in detail by email. The problem was not a 'show stopper' for 1/2 the crew who are used camping with limited water supplies, but it was obviously an inconvenience having to spend extra time filling the tank. (It was later found that it had been more of an issue for Daniel (with Asberger's) who had been quietly dealing with his anxiety to avoid disrupting the rest of us).

Obviously one can accept that there will occasionally be mechanical failures with boats in a large fleet, but the level of customer care we experienced does not seem to reflect the standards expected from a 'award winning' company and this was only compounded by the responses from the managing director when we wrote to him on the matter.

I must apologise in advance for the long rambling nature of the rest of the page, but to get the full story you have to have all the detail!

 

Latest update 12/10/05 - Click here...

 

 

17th September. Collected boat from Stoke Prior.

On handover, we were told by Lorenzo that the water tank was full, and he mentioned that the gauges were not that accurate - hence it only reading 8/10.

The boat was not as nice as our previous hire from Black Prince Holidays at Acton Bridge as there was a bit of a musty unaired smell and a couple of small damp bits of carpet. One by the radiator in the galley, that was found by the first person to take their shoes off, and one by the steps in the rear cabin, that looked like water had been trodden in from outside.

The patch by the galley dried, but overnight the rear cabin got worse...

18th September. Rang Black Prince about the damp carpet.

Jo was not entirely happy about getting out of bed onto a bit of damp carpet, so rang up the Stoke Prior base.

She was told that the reason for the damp carpet was that we had not been pumping the bilge out enough, so the water was hitting the bottom of the floor and soaking into the carpet. (The info pack on the boat actually had an A4 photocopied picture of a boat that had sunk due to lack of bilge pumping and, I think, a leaky weed hatch, so if you had not been on a boat before, you would have to be daft to not be regularly pumping the bilge...)

As we had only travelled a couple of hours on Saturday their explanation didn't seem that likely , so given their attitude on the phone that they were not interested in the problem we decided to monitor the situation closely ourselves.

Over the next day or so it became apparent that the boat was using a lot more fresh water then we expected, and the water in the bilge seemed remarkably clean... In fact pumping the bilge into a bucket revealed almost crystal clear water, quite unlike the murky brown stuff that we scooped from the canal.

Conclusion... Drinking water was leaking from some part of the plumbing into the bilge.

21st September. Emailed Black Prince.

Following the less than helpful response to our phone call, we decided that an email was the best way of listing all the symptoms, without being interrupted or fobbed off  mid conversation. As up to this point any email correspondence with the company had been answered within an hour or so, we felt that this would receive the same swift attention. The email was sent at 8:21am, so would be waiting for them when the office opened.


To: enquiry@black-prince.com ; BHolidays@aol.com
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 8:21 AM
Subject: Damp carpet - "Holly" - possibly water leak ?

Hi,

Further to our phone call to you on Sunday regarding the damp carpet in the rear cabin (which remains damp!), it appears that there is some sort of leak with the drinking water system.

Hints in this direction are :-

When we collected the boat we were told that the tank was full, and that the gauges were not that accurate hence it reading 8/10.

Overnight the water pump kicks in regularly for 10 or 15 secs at a time when there is no water being used.

Water level drops very quickly for the level of use. Tank down to 2 from full after a days cruising, with careful use and only 1 very quick shower.

After 2 hours in the pub with the pump turned off, the level dropped from 4 to 2.

Bilge has been frequently pumped, as this was recommended as the most likely cause of the damp carpet on our previous call.

Last night overnight (when the water level was very low) there was considerably less water in the bilge in the morning.

At present we are coping with the inconvenience, as we are regularly topping up the tank, ensuring the bilge is regularly pumped and keeping some water bottled 'on standby'.

I would guess that you would not consider this an 'emergency' and as there is no visible signs of leakage,  may not be a quick 'canal side' fix, however I thought I would bring this to your attention now as it will obviously need to be addressed before the boat next goes out.

Regards


Ian Moore

*Mobile num*

On board 'Holly'.

We received no reply by email, or on the mobile number provided so continued to moor overnight near water points so that we could fill in the evening and again in the morning before setting off.

Unfortunately the BW moorings in we had planned to use on Thursday night (Digilis basin in Worcester) were not available, so decided to ring Black Prince Holidays  for advice on an alternative 'overnight with water'.

22nd September. Phoned to find moorings

We spoke with Pete who suggested that we may be able to stop at the Viking yard, and OK'd it with them for us (ringing back using the number from the email). He also asked if we needed anyone to meet us there to look at the boat. As we had already been coping with the situation for 5 days and only had 1 days cruising left from there, it didn't really seem worth it. Pete didn't argue the point or recommend that a visit was necessary.

 

Many thanks to Viking Afloat for the use of their moorings and water. And letting us clamber all over one of their boats to see what they were like !

 

24th September. Returned boat.

We returned the boat at around 9 am, unloaded then updated the staff , again about the problems we'd experienced with the boat. 

No apology, only a 'Thanks for telling us, the people who had the boat before you didn't say anything.' 

While unloading the boat, our eldest crew member asked in the office if she could use a toilet and received a fairly short reply about not having any public toilets, but after it was pointed out that there was a water problem on the boat the staff toilets were made available to her.

Later that day we did get a nice an email saying that the boat's leak had been found and fixed and the boat was back in service, so at least someone appreciated the detail we had provided !


Sent: Saturday, September 24, 2005 1:41 PM
Subject: Water leak

Hello Ian
Thank you for your e.mail
I thought you might be interested to know the reason for the damp carpet on N B 'Holly'.
After extensive investigation it was found to be a calorifier failure due to a split seam. The unit has now been replaced and the boat is back in service. This is a most unusual fault and has never happened before. The faulty unit has been returned to the supplier for their comments. I hope it did not detract too much from the enjoyment of your holiday and we look forward to seeing you again
Best wishes
John - Operations Manager

 

27th September. Letter of complaint regarding quality of service.

The email was sent to the black-prince.com address which we assumed was their head office, and the aol account which we thought to be the local base email address.


To: enquiry@black-prince.com ; BHolidays@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:14 AM
Subject: Holiday Issues


Dear Sir/Madam,
 
I'm writing in connection with our recent week-long holiday (starting 17th September) aboard the Black Prince narrowboat 'Holly' Booking Ref: 21459, hired from your Stoke Prior base.
 
Over the first few days of the week, we became increasingly aware of a fault with the fresh water system on the boat, which we deduced was caused by the water tank discharging itself into the bilge. This meant that the tank required constant filling and refilling and the bilge required emptying every hour - we would fill the tank in the morning and that would be gone by the evening, even with only very careful use of facilities as we were more than aware of the problem with the water.
 
Because of the excess need for filling and refilling, we had to arrange to moor only at points where water could be collected in the evening and morning, thereby reducing each day of holiday by an hour or more for additional water filling (assuming that we were able to find moorings with water points). The number of locations we could visit over the holiday was restricted by the requirement to moor close to a water filling point each evening.
 
The water leak caused extensive soaking to the carpet in the rear of the boat. Two of our group had to step out of bed each morning onto a very damp floor and all of us had to wear shoes at all times to minimalise the inconvenience caused by the wetness in that area.
 
In addition to the damp, water shortages were occasionally acute and it meant that toilets had to sometimes go unflushed or that members of the group had to walk long distances, usually in the dark to locate the nearest public toilet. Showers were few and far between for the same reason. Additional emergency supplies of water were tapped and bottled up to use to wash hands and dishes and to perform such mundane tasks as brushing teeth. One of the party members is seventy-four years of age and another has Asperger's Syndrome - a mild form of autism - and the stress and inconvenience throughout the week was at times especially disruptive to them.
 
As soon as we were certain that there was a technical problem on the boat, we contacted the base by email yet received no response. We were disappointed not to receive any help from the Black Prince staff. We felt that we had acted very fairly in providing detailed information to staff on our situation during our holiday and attempting to cope with the inconvenience, rather than making a fuss or demanding a replacement boat. The response from staff on our return was simply: 'The previous people didn't tell us, thanks for identifying the problem'. No apology has been made and we feel there has been a lack of concern for the stress, disruption and inconvenience suffered.
 
We have used your company before, in 2003 on the Cheshire Ring from Acton Bridge, when the preparation of our boat was superb and a major factor in our decision to go again with Black Prince this year. However, following this experience, it seems unlikely that we would consider booking with your company for next year's holiday.
 
The 1162 we paid for the boat is not a trivial sum, especially considering several members of our party are on low incomes or a pension.
 
We hope that the situation has only been mishandled by staff at the base and is not symptomatic of a more general lack of customer care by the Black Prince company. We look forward to hearing your resolution to our dissatisfaction.
 
Sincerely,
Neil Mitchell

Which received a prompt response.


From: BHolidays@aol.com
To:
Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:20 AM
Subject: Re: Holiday Issues


Dear Mr. Mitchell,

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your letter and this has been passed to Mr. Tim Parker, Director, for investigation.  He will contact you in due course.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to let us know of the problems you experienced during your holiday.  We at Black Prince always strive to provide the best possible boats and service to our holiday makers.

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Ashmore

Then later in the day we receive a reply from the managing director.


From: BHolidays@aol.com
To:
Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 5:03 PM
Subject: Re: Holiday Issues


Neil Mitchell -

Thank you for your e.mail concerning your recent holiday with us from Stoke Prior. I am sorry that you were less than completely happy with your boat and have spent some time in investigating the situation. Having done so, I have to say that I too am also far from happy with the situation.

In the manual that is with you at all times when you are on holiday, it asks quite clearly for you to ring us with any problems. This you failed to do. Instead you sent an advisory e.mail on Wednesday stating that there appeared to be a water leak which would need to be addressed before the boat went out again.

On the Friday you rang to ask us to get permission for you to moor at Viking in Lowesmoor. When Pete suggested that he come out to investigate, you again said that it was not necessary.

We have now discovered that far from it being a small water leak the calorifyer had split, which John advised you on Saturday. This can happen for two reasons, being either a manufacturing fault, or due to the boat running out of water. We have sent it back to the manufacturer to await his report.

The nett result is that if this had been attended to promptly, there would have been no problem. However as a result of your actions, or more accurately inactions, we have had to withdraw the boat from service, replace the carpet and quite possible also the floor at the back of the boat. Fortunately we have been able to switch customers onto other boats so they have not lost their holiday as well. Nevertheless we have been landed with a bill of several hundred pounds as a result of your actions.

When you hire a boat, you owe a duty of care to us to look after the boat as it is totally your responsibility. I am sorry but I feel that you have totally failed to do this, and as a result of this and other factors, I am not willing to make any offer of compensation. Indeed, if anything, you should be paying us for the unnecessary damage done to our boat.

T J N Parker
Director

Quite an amazing level of customer care went into his letter, which directly contradicts the email from the ops manager regarding the status of the boat!

Needless to say, we hade to take a few deep breaths to maintain composure before starting the reply. 

From: Neil Mitchell
To: BHolidays@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:15 PM
Subject: Re: Holiday Issues


Dear Mr Parker,

Thank you for your reply, and thank you for the first apology for the fault from anyone in your company, but I think there are a few points in your letter which need addressing...

> Thank you for your e.mail concerning your recent holiday with us from Stoke Prior. I am sorry that you
> were less than completely happy with your boat and have spent some time in investigating the situation.
> Having done so, I have to say that I too am also far from happy with the situation.
> In the manual that is with you at all times when you are on holiday, it asks quite clearly for you to ring us
> with any problems. This you failed to do.

This is not true in any conventional sense of the word. As soon as we were aware of the damp carpet in the rear cabin (Sunday morning), we rang Black Prince to report the problem and were firmly told that this was most likely to have been caused by excess water in the bilge because we had not been pumping it out.

> Instead you sent an advisory e.mail on Wednesday stating that there appeared to be a water leak which
> would need to be addressed before the boat went out again.

The email was not sent 'instead' of a telephone call, but 'in addition' to it, providing you with as much detailed information as we had gathered on our own since Sunday.

Following the implication in Sunday's phone call that the damp carpet was our fault, it was felt that an email was the most appropriate method of communicating the full list of symptoms as concisely as possible without interruption or misinterpretation by the person on the phone. In all of our previous email dealings with your company we have received a response in less than an hour, so we felt sure that this would get a similar level of prompt attention.

It was our guess that a full investigation of the concealed plumbing system was not likely to be a particularly swift task, hence the last paragraph in the email. A mobile phone number was included in the email
to allow your staff to contact us to discuss the issues further if you felt it necessary.

> On the Friday you rang to ask us to get permission for you to moor at Viking in Lowesmoor.

Not strictly true. On Friday we rang to ask advice about what overnight moorings would be available near a water point, as the visitor moorings in Digilis were not in use. We were advised that Viking would probably be a suitable stop and Pete would phone them to check it would be OK. This he did, and later rang us back on the mobile number from the email to confirm

> When Pete suggested that he come out to investigate, you again said that it was not necessary.

I object to the use of 'again', as at no point had we said a visit was not necessary. In the context of the phone call with Pete we suggested that by that stage (1 days travel left from Viking to base with another water stop at Stoke Works) that is probably was not worth it as we had been coping to that point

> We have now discovered that far from it being a small water leak the calorifyer had split, which John
> advised you on Saturday. This can happen for two reasons, being either a manufacturing fault, or due to
> the boat running out of water. We have sent it back to the manufacturer to await his report.
> The nett result is that if this had been attended to promptly, there would have been no problem.

On collection of the boat we were told by Lorenzo that the water tank had been filled and that the gauge read 8 not 10 because it was faulty. On a subsequent filling of the tank, the gauge correctly read
10. This seems to show that water was leaking between your filling and our collection.

The symptoms of the leak were not particularly apparent to us until Sunday morning, when our phone call seemed to get short shrift. In light of the unsympathetic response to our call we collected detailed evidence
and provided it in writing as soon as we were certain there was a leak.

Had your staff on Sunday advised us to monitor the situation and ring back as further detail emerged then we would have happily obliged.

> However as a result of your actions, or more accurately inactions, we have had to withdraw the boat from
> service, replace the carpet and quite possible also the floor at the back of the boat. Fortunately we have
> been able to switch customers onto other boats so they have not lost their holiday as well.

This seems a little strange as on Saturday at 13:41 John, your operations manager emailed us to say 'Thank you for your email, The unit has now been replaced and the boat is back in service'

If you open the access hatches to the storage space beneath the forward lounge seats, I think the smell will suggest that there has been a problem with damp in this boat for a prolonged period of time.

With hindsight, the small damp patches on the carpet by the galley radiator and the rear cabin steps, along with a musty smell when we first boarded the boat should have been warning signs. But, after 4
hours driving with 3 families crammed into 2 cars, judgment may have been clouded by wanting to get on with the whole 'relaxing on a boat' thing. We had assumed that the boat may not have been used for a few
weeks - hence the musty smell, and the damp near the radiator probably due to a spill while bleeding the system in preparation for our hire. Unless of course  the spill by the galley was as a result of a previous
attempt at a repair to the pump which sounded like it was in close proximity to that area...

> Nevertheless we have been landed with a bill of several hundred pounds as a result of your actions.
> When you hire a boat, you owe a duty of care to us to look after the boat as it is totally your
> responsibility. I am sorry but I feel that you have totally failed to do this, and as a result of this and other
> factors, I am not willing to make any offer of compensation. Indeed, if anything, you should be paying us
> for the unnecessary damage done to our boat.

As on our previous canal holidays, this boat was treated with good level of care, however, we can not be held responsible for any pre existing hidden defects, failed repair or faulty components.

Nor can we be held responsible when our first attempt to report a problem is discounted by a member of your staff as us just not pumping the bilge out.

After this response we continued compiling detailed diagnostic information until we were certain that there was a fault, we then sent you this information (which you chose not to follow up).

If we had made no attempt to contact you regarding the problem, or had just returned the boat at the end of the week saying 'it uses a lot of water' then I could understand your attitude.

We genuinely tried to be as helpful as possible and not be antagonistic as some people can be when dealing with problems, but seem to have been treated with an unsympathetic response at almost every turn. Indeed, when the most elderly member (Mrs Moore, 74) of our party asked at your reception if she could use a toilet she was a bit upset to be told it was not a public toilet and she should use the one on the boat. Mrs Moore then had to point out that there was a water problem on the boat before she could use your lavatory.

Again our complaint is not specifically that the boat had a problem. With such a large fleet it is understandable that things can fail from time to time. However, we do feel that the level of understanding and service from the staff seems to have been somewhat disappointing which resulted in the considerable stress and disruption and inconvenience as detailed in our previous email.

I have attached a copy of our original email and the reply from John regarding the operational status of the boat to assist with your investigations.

Yours Sincerely
Neil Mitchell

3rd October. Mr Parker replies again.

After a considerable wait of 6 days, we had a reply. No less caring or confrontational than the last. But this time he had asked the opinion of a friend in an unconnected trade for an opinion.


From: BHolidays@aol.com
To:
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2005 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: Holiday Issues


Dear Mr Mitchell,

Thank you for your further letter concerning your recent holiday with us. You still do not seem to understand what you have done. When the carpet layer came to refit the carpet on the Saturday, it was found that the floor was very wet, and so the boat had to be withdrawn from service. We now know that the floor will have to be replaced. The total cost of repairs is between 1,750 and 2,500.

May I give you a similar situation. You hire a car, which develops a slow puncture. You advise the Hire Company on the Sunday of a possible problem, then e.mail them on the Wednesday, advising them that the tyre needs looking at on the return. You then contact them on the Friday and refuse a call out. On the Saturday it transpires that not only have you wrecked the tyre, but also the wheel and the drive train. What do you think would happen to you ?

I happen to know someone very well in the Hire Car industry, and showed them the paperwork on your booking. They confirm that they would pursue you for all costs as a matter of course.

We know that the boat was fine when you collected it, as there was no wet carpet. This has been confirmed by the turn round staff, the boat inspector and the cleaner. The problems happened on your watch and whilst it is unfortunate that the calorifyer developed a leak, all the damage was caused by you not acting with a duty of care.

There are a number of odd comments in your e.mail that I will comment on.

You seem to think that it would be difficult to locate a water leak. Actually a water leak is the easiest problem to locate ; you simply follow the leak back. It takes minutes. The actual repair took less than an hour from start to finish (on the calorifyer)

Why would a boat not have been out for 'a few weeks' in high season.  In fact the boat had been out every week since May 21st continuously, with no problems whatsoever (this is hardly surprising since the boat is only one year old).

If there had been damp in the front of the boat, as you suggest, the boat would have been in considerable problems. Due to the trimming of the boat, there would have been between 6 and 9 inches of water in the rear of the boat. If the lockers had become damp, then the carpet all around the seating would also have become damp.

You are not correct on your comments regarding Mrs Moore. As the BW toilets are not yet open, Margaret offered Mrs Moore the use of the staff toilets (which are not open to the public). She suggested that Mrs Moore might be more comfortable on the boat rather than on the wharf.

T J N Parker
Director

Again, there seems to be a hint of a  confrontational nature to the letter, and the car hire analogy is a bit off the mark, so another detailed reply was put together.

I have to admit, there is an error in the detail that was not spotted earlier... Our phone call about moorings with water was made on Thursday, not Friday... I don't know how we will live with the shame!

To: <BHolidays@aol.com>
Cc:
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 4:32 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Holiday Issues




Dear Mr Parker,

Thank you for your further reply regarding the poor level of care we have received following a fault with your boat. Unfortunately, Mr Mitchell is unable to reply at this time, so I am responding on his behalf as another member of the party.

> Thank you for your further letter concerning your recent holiday with us.  You still do not seem to understand what you have done.
> When the carpet layer came to refit the carpet on the Saturday,  it was found that the floor was very wet, and so the boat had to be
> withdrawn from service.

What I do not understand is the unsympathetic level of customer service we have received since first phoning to report the problem on Sunday.
Nor do I understand why the polite and courteous email from John, your operations manager stating that the boat was repaired and back in service is being contradicted.

The confrontational nature of your correspondence only seems to highlight the generally poor level of customer care that we have been complaining about and does not serve as a very good PR exercise for your company.

From this it seems that you are not interested in any reconciliation of our complaint, so I assume the matter is closed with yourselves. I would however ask that your staff try to be more proactive when faults are reported in future.

Should you be interested in a full response to your email then for clarity detailed answers to your points are included below.



Regards

Ian Moore





> We now know  that the floor will have to be replaced. The total cost of repairs is between 1,750 and 2,500.

I assume that you are including the price of the leaky calorifier in this as the cost of enough 8'x4' sheets of marine ply and support timber for the rear cabin should not be quite this high. Actually, I am quite surprised that suitable boat flooring should be so adversely affected by water running over it for 6 days.


> May I give you a similar situation.

As long as I am able to clarify a few discrepancies.

> You hire a car, which develops a slow puncture.

Which has a slow puncture when supplied.

> You advise the Hire Company on the Sunday of a possible problem,

The company gives the impression that the symptoms are trivial and not a real problem.

> then e.mail them on the Wednesday, advising them that the tyre needs looking at on the return.

The email also contained additional detailed symptoms including the rate of loss and a referred to the amount of time being spent on refilling to  avoid an 'empty' situation.

> You then contact them on the Friday

To find a suitable overnight location where refilling can occur.

> and refuse a call out.

The symptoms were being managed with regular filling and the level remained above 2/10. So one final day to another filling location appeared equally manageable. (If required the date, time, duration and location of all our water stops can be provided).

> On the Saturday it transpires that not only have you wrecked the tyre, but also the wheel and the drive train.

In this situation it is clearly visible that there is significant damage being caused to the wheel, along with serious vibration, noise and a dangerous loss of steering and braking so it should be obvious to the layman that continuing 'as is' would be a bad thing.

However, the potential dangers from drinking water leaking into the bilge from a faulty item of plumbing seem to be a little less intuitive. We provided you, the experts with all the information we could collect, but no warnings were given regarding potential outcomes.

> What do you think would happen to you ?

After initial feelings of disappoint at the poor level of customer care, any future business would be switched to another company, on the basis that our reporting of problems had not been taken seriously enough to begin with.

Having had leased cars for 6+ years I am used to a certain level of service. Reporting a slow puncture will result in a mobile tyre fitter (ATS) visiting the car, either same or next day, with no need to follow up the call some days later in writing when further evidence of the leak has been compiled.

> I happen to know someone very well in the Hire Car industry, and showed  them the paperwork on your booking.
> They confirm that they would pursue you for all costs as a matter of  course.

Did he agree that you were right to not take our first phone call on Sunday seriously, and not to follow up the email on Wednesday ?

As you have made our complaint available to an unrelated individual, you will have no objection to us making it available to any other third parties.

> We know that the boat was fine when you collected it, as there was no wet carpet.
> This has been confirmed by the turn round staff, the boat inspector and the cleaner

On Saturday to be fair, the damp patch near the galley radiator was not visible and we only spotted it by feel when passing with no shoes on. This soon dried out, and may well have just been a spillage while cleaning etc. The damp patch by the rear steps again was not that large initially looked like water may just have been walked in from outside.

Did Lorenzo recall the conversation regarding the 'full' tank and the discrepancy of the water gauge, as this seems to be the first indicator that the level had dropped since your filling.

> The problems happened on your watch and whilst it is unfortunate that the calorifyer developed a leak, all the
> damage was caused by you not acting with a duty of care.

We were very mindful of our responsibilities and first rang you on Sunday as soon as a problem had been discovered. The problem was not considered to be serious by your staff at that time. Due to this attitude we emailed you additional details which you again chose not to act on.

When you, the experts, give us the belief that a problem is not serious, then we have to rely on your experience and judgment in the matter.

It is disappointing that you do not accept responsibility for the decisions that you took on Sunday/Wednesday regarding this problem

> There are a number of odd comments in your e.mail that I will comment on.
>
> You seem to think that it would be difficult to locate a water leak. Actually a water leak is the easiest
> problem to locate ; you simply follow the leak back. It takes minutes.
> The actual repair took less than an hour from start to finish (on the calorifyer)

It was our guess that a full investigation of the concealed plumbing system was not likely to be a particularly swift task, but if you thought it to be this easy then why not respond to us immediately on Wednesday to sort out the problem?

> Why would a boat not have been out for 'a few weeks' in high season. In fact the boat had been out
> every week since May 21st continuously, with no problems whatsoever (this is hardly surprising
> since the boat is only one year old).
> If there had been damp in the front of the boat, as you suggest, the boat would have been in considerable problems.
> Due to the trimming of the boat, there would have been between 6 and 9  inches of water in the rear of the boat.
> If the lockers had become damp, then the carpet all around the seating  would also have become damp.

The only reason for the comment about the boat possibly being out of use was the the musty, slightly damp smell at the front of the boat as if it
had not been very well aired for a time.

As the boat has been in service for this period of time, then there must be another reason for the damp smell in the lockers. I did not say thatt he carpet in the lockers was actually wet, there was just a damp smell.We stored a couple of empty rucksacks in the lockers during the holiday, these required a day or so on the line at home to air them of the smell.

> You are not correct on your comments regarding Mrs Moore. As the BW toilets are not yet open,
> Margaret offered Mrs Moore the use of the staff toilets (which are not open to the public).
> She suggested that Mrs Moore might be more comfortable on the boat  rather than on the wharf.

It is always possible that my mother's assessment of the situation was not totally objective as she is a septuagenarian with a hearing problem, and a dislike of getting out of bed onto a wet floor

>
> T J N Parker
> Director
>
> Black Prince Holidays Ltd. Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B60 4LA
> Telephone (0)1527 575115
> Fax (0)1527 575116
> Web site www.black-prince.com
>
> Enjoy an award winning canal holiday from one of our 6 sites across the UK.

Interestingly, I have only been able to find "Hire Craft Operator of the Year in the Heart of England Excellence in Tourism Awards of 2002." - Nothing since
then, I wonder why...

We await a further reply...

 

As of 12th October, no response to us personally from Black Prince, however , Mr Parker did respond (via a 3rd party) to the ongoing discussion on uk.rec.waterways (see message dated 8th October by Robin Smithett). Interestingly, in a public forum his tone is somewhat more measured !

 

 

Again, many thanks to Viking Afloat for the use of their moorings and water.

 

 

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