Virgin marketing up to their usual tricks

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by MKB, 8 Nov 2011.

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  1. MKB

    MKB Member

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    Last week, Virgin sent me a personalised email offer for £10 off my next purchase of over £35 on Advance tickets which I duly used and was grateful for.

    Today, they've repeated the offer and sent me another £10 off email, which is quite handy as I have another journey to book. However this one won't work. I suspect they've sent me an identical code to the one they sent me last week. I get: "The promotional PIN is only valid for a limited number of journeys. Please check your shopping basket and ensure you do not have more journeys than allowed."

    The t&c's state: "25. Full Advance ticket terms and conditions are available at www.virgintrains.com or by calling 08457 222 333." which turns out to be another deception. That number is a recorded message telling me to call a premium rate 0871 number. One for the ASA I think.
     
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  3. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Hove you contacted Virgin to let them know of the error, or is direct reporting to the ASA considered a popular pasttime these days?
     
  4. MKB

    MKB Member

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    Ok - I'm going to back-track on the criticism. I called Virgin a second time, this time using the 0121 number I've just found on saynoto0870.com and got a charming agent who agreed there had been a cock-up and said he'd send me a £10 voucher.

    So big thumbs-up to Virgin for their service recovery here.
     
    Last edited: 8 Nov 2011
  5. telstarbox

    telstarbox Established Member

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    90% of the time it's cock-up not conspiracy.
     
  6. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    So companies should be allowed to break the rules until a member of the public calls them out on it with no consequences?
     
  7. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    However, a company should be given a fair chance to sort it out.

    Your logic could work both ways - TOCs could stop giving passengers chances to get valid tickets, and just take them to court each and every time?
     
  8. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    Well, by the extreme of your logic a pickpocket shouldn't be prosecuted (or even reported to the police) if, when first caught, he promises never to do it again.

    I don't think taking either point-of-view to the extreme is very helpful, but I do believe that businesses should be held to a higher standard than the average member of the public, particularly when such businesses receive taxpayers money.
     
  9. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Some TOCs will be very harsh on customers who do not "sort out" their ticketing at the first opportunity. However it appears that some people think that TOCs should not be able to sort things out at the first opportunity and be given multiple opportunities. I find this bizarre bias to be quite curious, but by now it's become tedious.
    Has anyone suggested taking Virgin to court? If not, where does this come from?

    Perhaps you can clarify the procedure you believe customers should carry out in terms of who they contact, and how many times?

    If a TOC does not give a satisfactory answer, then ASA and Passenger Focus are suitable outlets. No-one is suggesting taking TOCs to court in this thread.
     
  10. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    You're comparing a deliberate criminal offence with what's most likely a technical oversight. I'd far rather give a company a fair chance to sort things out. If fobbed off, by all means do what you have to to get listened to.

     
  11. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    No, but they were advocating reporting Virgin straight to the ASA without even giving them a chance to sort it out. Which is just like taking a passenger straight to court without giving them the chance to pay.
     
  12. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I disagree; reporting a company to the ASA is hardly equivalent to taking them (or someone) to court.

    Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to give Virgin a call on another number and speak to someone, and the OP did do this. I do think that sometimes there are some provocative initial posts that really shouldn't be posted (or worded differently) as if these provocations were not made, you would not end up with these sort of (mostly) hypothetical arguments where you end up with extreme opposing views and comparisons that can get really out of hand. If the OP had simply been advised to give Virgin one more try on another number, we'd not be having this crazy debate comparing court appearances with a report to the ASA!
     
  13. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    Ok, so the ASA is non-statutory, but any disregard of their instructions would be viewed very dimly by the OFT and Ofcom who are very unlikely to disagree with the ASA. Reporting the company straight to the authorities is very much like reporting the customer straight to the courts. Why can't we be sensible and mature, and give people - and companies - the chance to sort out, what is probably just a cock up?
     
  14. island

    island Established Member

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    Reporting to the ASA in this instance is just likely to result in an informal resolution (i.e. the ASA rings Virgin and tells them not to do it again, and Virgin agrees).
     
  15. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    Or, what is infinitely preferable is contacting the company and saying:

    "Hello, sorry but I seem to have received a strange email - is this an error?"

    "Oh yes, I'm sorry about that, I'll correct it straight away. Thanks for letting us know."

    Getting the ASA involved would be entirely appropriate if you got fobbed off, or if the material was deliberately misleading. The OP has both corrected Virgin's error (without the need of expending the ASA's time!) and been rewarded for his trouble.

    What Island said still stands though; it's clearly an error and the ASA would probably just ask Virgin to correct it.
     
  16. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    It's not the email that the OP was talking about reporting to the ASA, it was the phone line that just tells you to call a premium-rate number.

    You can't accidentally set up a premium-rate number and move things over to it. It takes effort, it's not just an oversight. The only reason you would do it is to increase revenue, in this case it's clearly against the rules.
     
  17. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    What advertising rules?
     
  18. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    Since when has using a premium rate phone number been "against the rules"?


    Sent from my iPhone 4 using Tapatalk
     
  19. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    Telling people to call a premium-rate number (or otherwise pay a fee) to find out the terms and conditions of a product is clearly against fair retailing and consumer protection rules. It's entirely appropriate to refer such things to the ASA.
     
  20. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    Can you give me a link to the rule which states that companies cannot use premium rate telephone lines to contact the company? In this case they did NOT have to ring it to "find out terms and conditions" but to correct an error.
     
  21. island

    island Established Member

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  22. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    Do virgin have to comply though?
    The PPP website isn't entirely clear, although it implies that it is only compulsory for companies running 087 numbers. In this case, it was an 0845


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  23. mallard

    mallard Established Member

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    I sometimes feel I'm the only person who can read on these forums...

    The op is clearly complaining that the number he is instructed to call for terms and conditions actually leads to an automated message instructing him to call a premium-rate number. Both BT and the ASA have very strict rules about the use of premium-rate numbers and island's link makes it clear that this is against the rules.
     
  24. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I do believe that the more significant issue highlighted by the OP's experience is the issue involving premium-rate numbers than the duplicate email received.
     
  25. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    I find it very unusual that they would redirect the 084 number to an 087 number. However, Virgin do run an 084 general contact/complaint line so I don't think it's as clear cut as you make out.
     
  26. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    The 084 number is no longer in use, and was replaced by the 087 number some time ago. Clearly the email text hasn't been updated for some time! The 087 number is Virgin Telesales costing 10p/min.
     
  27. island

    island Established Member

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    I think you may have gotten a little mixed-up. A telecommunications company which organizes premium-rate phone services for its customers is required to register with PPP, unless it only supplies 08 numbers.

    Anyone operating a premium-rate number (0871 or higher, and some assorted others) must comply with the code, which is separate from registration.
     
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