BC Ferries refunds more than $1 million for expired tickets. And it's not done yet.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

B.C. Ferries, which will end the year at least $20 million in the red, has spent more than $1 million in refunds to customers holding expired prepaid tickets.

But the refunds could climb to more than $2 million by the time they're fully calculated several months from now, a company spokesman has told the Victoria Times Colonist

The payouts are the pricey conclusion of a series of decisions that began early this year when the company refused to refund the tickets, prompting a public outcry and threats of legal action.

Assured loading passes give customers boarding priority on the main routes, but under the rules at the time, they expired after two years. The balance could be put toward a new pass good for six months, the onus is on users to keep their accounts up to date.

In July, when some passengers who found their cards being refused over the summer took their complaints to the media, then-CEO David Hahn flatly refused to change the police, arguing that the purchases represented legal contracts with clear conditions.

Weeks later, the ferry corporation backed off its refusal and instead said customers had 90 days -- ending on Oct. 24 -- to apply for refunds on any expired or current assured-loading tickets purchased since 1984.

When the company announced that it would issue the refunds, then-CEO David Hahn said the move was being made because the initial decision had left "a bad taste" with the public.

Hahn failed to note that the company was also faced with the threat of a class-action lawsuit over its refusal. In fact, Hahn had been warned by the province's consumer watchdog that it was illegal to refuse refunds to people who had bought assured loading tickets prior to Nov. 1, 2008, before a key change in provincial law.

According to the TC, the final tally for the refund could top $2 million because the offer was expanded beyond expired tickets to include current assured loading tickets as well.

For more on the story, click here.

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