In the terms and condition section of the Seaborne Freight website, a section said: “It is the responsibility of the customer to thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order.” The section has since been edited, but also informed “users” that they were “prohibited from making false orders through our website”. Furthermore, it warned it would seek compensation if it suffered losses “incurred as the result of hoax delivery requests”.
Seaborne is one of three firms that have been awarded contracts that total £108million to include additional crossings on the Channel to help ease the pressure on Dover after Brexit.
The Department for Transport has insisted Seaborne was properly vetted, despite the fact that it had never run a Channel service.
Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader said: “Seaborne Freight. No ships, no trading history and website T&Cs copied and pasted from a takeaway delivery site.”
Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi added: “This is beyond a joke.
“It’s not just that the Government have panic hired a firm with no ships to conduct ferry services.
“That firm has literally nothing prepared to suggest the £13.8million handed over to them is a sound investment.
“They’ve seemingly copied and pasted their terms off a takeaway fast food website, and their login portal sends you back to Google.”
Yesterday, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling defended the decision to award the firm and said it was an example how the Government is “supporting new business”.
Seaborne is meant to operate freight ferries from Ramsgate in Kent to the Belgian port of Ostend, beginning with two ships in late March and increasing to four by the end of the summer.
The firm was established two years ago and has been in negotiations about running freight ferries between Ramsgate and Ostend.
However, no services are currently running.
A spokesman for the firm said: “Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited (SFL) is currently making preparations across its business for re-introducing the Ramsgate to Ostend ferry service and has been working on the project for the past two years.
“Naturally these preparations include ongoing updates to its pre-launch website, including T&Cs.”
A DfT spokeswoman added: “This section of the terms and conditions on the company’s website was put up in error.
“This has now been rectified.”