Virgin trying to spin themselves top of Which? survey

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SaveECRewards

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I mentioned this earlier in the thread about the recent Which? survey but the topic on there was mostly about the bottom of the table.

The fact @Virgin sent out another tweet this evening prompted me to write this.

I'm getting frustrated that Virgin are trying to spin the Which? survey where VTWC came 4th and VTEC came 6th as them being the best long distance franchised operators.

Although strictly speaking true as the top two are open access operators and third place is a regional operator, the average rail traveller doesn't care whether their train is franchised or open access. The only conclusion can be Virgin, with their larger advertising budgets, are trying to steal the attention from their open access rivals.

When they tweet about it, then it's just a complete lie as they leave out the 'franchised' part and just say best long distance operator.

In a blog post that I'd written I did say I found the survey meaningless but when Virgin started to spin the results I was annoyed. The sensible option would have been to be happy that they did reasonably well but not bother promoting it.

In the Virgin blog post or their press release they also fail to provide a link to the results so people can make up their own mind.

I had hoped that after being called out on it they'd stop the misleading tweets but they don't seem to have done so.

I'm generally happy with VTEC (except for the loyalty scheme) but sometimes spin like this is just annoying.
 
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Robertj21a

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I mentioned this earlier in the thread about the recent Which? survey but the topic on there was mostly about the bottom of the table.

The fact @Virgin sent out another tweet this evening prompted me to write this.

I'm getting frustrated that Virgin are trying to spin the Which? survey where VTWC came 4th and VTEC came 6th as them being the best long distance franchised operators.

Although strictly speaking true as the top two are open access operators and third place is a regional operator, the average rail traveller doesn't care whether their train is franchised or open access. The only conclusion can be Virgin, with their larger advertising budgets, are trying to steal the attention from their open access rivals.

When they tweet about it, then it's just a complete lie as they leave out the 'franchised' part and just say best long distance operator.

In a blog post that I'd written I did say I found the survey meaningless but when Virgin started to spin the results I was annoyed. The sensible option would have been to be happy that they did reasonably well but not bother promoting it.

In the Virgin blog post or their press release they also fail to provide a link to the results so people can make up their own mind.

I had hoped that after being called out on it they'd stop the misleading tweets but they don't seem to have done so.

I'm generally happy with VTEC (except for the loyalty scheme) but sometimes spin like this is just annoying.

Well, if they are telling lies, wouldn't it be more useful to report it rather than blog about it ?
 

The Ham

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I mentioned this earlier in the thread about the recent Which? survey but the topic on there was mostly about the bottom of the table.

The fact @Virgin sent out another tweet this evening prompted me to write this.

I'm getting frustrated that Virgin are trying to spin the Which? survey where VTWC came 4th and VTEC came 6th as them being the best long distance franchised operators.

Although strictly speaking true as the top two are open access operators and third place is a regional operator, the average rail traveller doesn't care whether their train is franchised or open access. The only conclusion can be Virgin, with their larger advertising budgets, are trying to steal the attention from their open access rivals.

When they tweet about it, then it's just a complete lie as they leave out the 'franchised' part and just say best long distance operator.

In a blog post that I'd written I did say I found the survey meaningless but when Virgin started to spin the results I was annoyed. The sensible option would have been to be happy that they did reasonably well but not bother promoting it.

In the Virgin blog post or their press release they also fail to provide a link to the results so people can make up their own mind.

I had hoped that after being called out on it they'd stop the misleading tweets but they don't seem to have done so.

I'm generally happy with VTEC (except for the loyalty scheme) but sometimes spin like this is just annoying.

The tweet provides a link to a press release which does clarify the point about franchised train operator. I would suggest that most tweets are there to get people's attention and so have to be as short as possible to do this.

It is like most things people will use statistics for their own benefit.

As such it is normal PR and I doubt that if they made an advert claiming that they were the best long distance franchised operator that the ASA would even uphold a complaint like that you have made.
 

yorkie

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Well, if they are telling lies, wouldn't it be more useful to report it rather than blog about it ?
Feel free to report it, no-one is stopping you! ;) The ASA won't care anyway. And I don't see why it has to be one or the other :-?
 

bb21

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I don't believe they will come under the ASA's jurisdiction either.

I received another meaningless response from their customer service department the other day, so I told them straight that I did not "arrive awesome" and do not believe any of the nonsense and spin they put out. If our customer service department sent out replies like theirs, they would be roundly told off.
 

ainsworth74

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wow - such annoyance over so little! It seems like normal PR guff to me!

Perhaps but I think its more a reaction to Virgin over time rather than just this single incident.

I'm increasingly fed up with them but I couldn't point to a single incident only a collection of things that are adding up into me becoming increasingly disenchanted with them.
 

DarloRich

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Perhaps but I think its more a reaction to Virgin over time rather than just this single incident.

I'm increasingly fed up with them but I couldn't point to a single incident only a collection of things that are adding up into me becoming increasingly disenchanted with them.

it is just PR - nothing out of the ordinary for a company trying to build a new brand. After all - positive brand image covers all kinds of cracks!
 

CosherB

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Maybe the PR departments for other TOCs need to try harder!
 

Minilad

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On another thread I have just mentioned a little snippet I overheard on the Rugby special from Cov-Nun yesterday. A couple of egg chasers were sitting opposite and one said to the other "I wonder how much Wasps had to pay Branson to run this train"
I think a lot of people genuinely think Virgin (Branson) run a lot more than they actually do. How much is that down to the constant "look at us aren't we great" type of PR Virgin kick out
 

edwin_m

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it is just PR - nothing out of the ordinary for a company trying to build a new brand. After all - positive brand image covers all kinds of cracks!

Sometimes. But I think there comes a point when the product is so bad that trying to put out good PR about it is counter-productive. I'm not saying which side of that line I think VT may be...
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
so I told them straight that I did not "arrive awesome" and do not believe any of the nonsense and spin they put out.

Did you "arrive awful" instead?
 

tbtc

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If it were anyone else but Virgin, I doubt we'd see criticism about it - they can't do right in some people's eyes though.

It seems fair to exclude Open Access from a comparison (since OA are providing journeys that didn't exist before, are more focussed on the "happier" discretionary leisure market than the "angrier" everyday commuters, OA have no responsibility to provide services that they don't want to so no late night trains full of drunks etc).

Maybe OA should be included, maybe not, but I can see why there's an argument to take them out to make a fair comparison. Taking out a "regional" TOC is perhaps a little unfair, but if we are comparing like with like then perhaps it's justified? The problem is that that only really leaves Virgin competing against First (GWR), and their franchise is more dominated by commuters (in the Thames Valley) and Pacers/ Sprinters (west of Bristol), so Virgin are generally going to come up smelling of roses.

Maybe it's disingenuous, but not worth any sort of toy/pram interface...

wow - such annoyance over so little! It seems like normal PR guff to me!

Agreed.

If you analysed every PR statement, you'd never leave the house.

Maybe the PR departments for other TOCs need to try harder!

True - at least Virgin are trying, getting positive stories about the railway into the press, encouraging travel (rather than the diet of stories about cancellations/ delays etc that we'd see otherwise).

Other TOCs employ a lot more people than VTEC and WC (combined) but don't seem to bother promoting the railway to the same extent.

It's like the criticism that enthusiasts give The Train Line - at least TTL are promoting train travel (they aren't any cheaper than going direct to the TOCs, they can certainly be more expensive, but they seem to spend more money encouraging "normals" to use trains, unlike some TOCs who seem to give people no incentive).
 

Geezertronic

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I'd say their PR has had the desired effect. Whether you like Virgin Trains or not, you're still talking about them so I'm not sure that VT would be that bothered about specific terminology :D
 

krus_aragon

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Excuse me while I be bound for awesome.....or something

Are Virgin staff using ropes to tie customers to their seats now?! :D
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I'd say their PR has had the desired effect. Whether you like Virgin Trains or not, you're still talking about them so I'm not sure that VT would be that bothered about specific terminology :D

The Donald Trump approach? “Any publicity is good publicity.”
 

Geezertronic

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The Donald Trump approach? “Any publicity is good publicity.”

Not sure about that, but Virgin Trains seems to be the marmite of the railways - people either love them or hate them. Either way, the Virgin brand wins as the brand name is always used

I do agree with tbtc though, if this was any other TOC/brand, it wouldn't even warrant a thread on here
 

bb21

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Sometimes. But I think there comes a point when the product is so bad that trying to put out good PR about it is counter-productive. I'm not saying which side of that line I think VT may be...

As they say, you can't polish a turd.

While Virgin-branded TOCs are not without excellent staff (always the silent majority I must add), Virgin West Coast imo have the rudest/most arrogant staff I have ever encountered, (no other TOC's staff ever came anywhere near,) and Virgin East Coast rapidly went downhill since the rebranding exercise, especially customer service with their nonsense-spouting spin. It is almost as if suddenly they have forgotten how to send meaningful replies and think they can spin themselves out of trouble with garbage. They are the least passenger friendly rail group imo.

Minilad just about hit the nail on the head. If they actually put some of their effort into getting some of their staff up to standard, they would be a pretty decent outfit.

Did you "arrive awful" instead?

It just doesn't have that ring to it, does it? ;)
 

ainsworth74

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I think they desperately need to bring customer service back in house. As far as I'm aware it's still outsourced to Plymouth and First Group for VTEC. My main complaint is with the total dross that comes out of their customer services department. Sort that out and I can deal with all the Virgin fluff.
 

jimm

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I do agree with tbtc though, if this was any other TOC/brand, it wouldn't even warrant a thread on here

If it were any other TOC than Virgin, they probably wouldn't have tried spin like this in the first place...
 

driver_m

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Two moderators ripping into virgin in quick succession. Aren't you two meant to be reasonably neutral or is this the Fox News of forums where fair and balanced means precisely nothing of the sort? I'd like to ask the other mods on here that if I decided to label all of you arrogant and rude I would last 2 minutes on here before being banned. But however I can be labelled as such without bb21 even knowing me, NeilB, topgun390 or any other VT staffer who comes on here. I await your reply with interest.
 

Domh245

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Two moderators ripping into virgin in quick succession. Aren't you two meant to be reasonably neutral or is this the Fox News of forums where fair and balanced means precisely nothing of the sort? I'd like to ask the other mods on here that if I decided to label all of you arrogant and rude I would last 2 minutes on here before being banned. But however I can be labelled as such without bb21 even knowing me, NeilB, topgun390 or any other VT staffer who comes on here. I await your reply with interest.

I'm not sure about the specifics of this forum, but on a lot of others, Moderators are "First and Foremost, just another member" - ie they aren't an official mouthpiece for the forum.
 

driver_m

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I'm not sure about the specifics of this forum, but on a lot of others, Moderators are "First and Foremost, just another member" - ie they aren't an official mouthpiece for the forum.

I accept that a high profile TOC like ours is going to get negative publicity and that's one thing, but the people who oversee everyone else's behaviour and have in the past felt able to judge my posts as unacceptable should also be held to account too. Calling us Arrogant and rude does not appear to be respectful to me and my colleagues as required in the rules.
 
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Robertj21a

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Feel free to report it, no-one is stopping you! ;) The ASA won't care anyway. And I don't see why it has to be one or the other :-?

Why are you responding to my post ? - I've no interest in reporting it, I merely suggested that the OP could.
 

bb21

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Two moderators ripping into virgin in quick succession. Aren't you two meant to be reasonably neutral or is this the Fox News of forums where fair and balanced means precisely nothing of the sort? I'd like to ask the other mods on here that if I decided to label all of you arrogant and rude I would last 2 minutes on here before being banned. But however I can be labelled as such without bb21 even knowing me, NeilB, topgun390 or any other VT staffer who comes on here. I await your reply with interest.

I am not labelling you, or the majority of Virgin staff, anything. Read my post again.

Yes, moderators are allowed to post our own opinions. We have to be as objective as possible when taking moderation decisions, but we are entitled to our views in discussions.
 

SaveECRewards

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I think they desperately need to bring customer service back in house. As far as I'm aware it's still outsourced to Plymouth and First Group for VTEC. My main complaint is with the total dross that comes out of their customer services department. Sort that out and I can deal with all the Virgin fluff.

You will be pleased (I am) that VTEC are indeed moving customer services back to Newcastle. They're using some spare ex-Northern Rock office space that Virgin Money inherited.

So I do have hopes that customer services will indeed improve.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Two moderators ripping into virgin in quick succession. Aren't you two meant to be reasonably neutral or is this the Fox News of forums where fair and balanced means precisely nothing of the sort? I'd like to ask the other mods on here that if I decided to label all of you arrogant and rude I would last 2 minutes on here before being banned. But however I can be labelled as such without bb21 even knowing me, NeilB, topgun390 or any other VT staffer who comes on here. I await your reply with interest.

I've never had any problem with Virgin Trains staff, whether west coast (only use a few times a year) or east coast (regularly).

My only criticism is when they publish something that's extremely misleading (the average person doesn't know what open access is) when there's no real need to.
 

yorkie

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Why are you responding to my post ?
You were leaving me wondering why you were responding to his ;)
I've no interest in reporting it, I merely suggested that the OP could.
Yes, they could, but there'd be not much point reporting it because nothing would happen.
... I can be labelled as such....
unless you're one of the outsourced customer relations people (not actually employed by VT) based at Plymouth (in which case, I'd be happy to have a discussion via PM about various matters of concern, mant of which I know are shared with bona-fide VT staff!), I'll assume you're referring only to bb21's comments and not those of Ainsworth74. ;) I think you need to look again at what bb21 said, and not what you think he said. He isn't labelling "all" VT staff and isn't labelling you.

My opinion of VTEC, compared to many other TOCs, is generally positive but there are some things they do which are quite annoying, and for which they're not too apologetic. For example, they shouldn't spin the loss of EC Rewards as a good thing because it really isn't.
 
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