Why I hate the Virgin brand so much

Once upon a time, I used to be a big fan of Virgin, and the empire that Richard Branson had built up. To the point where I would have listed him in my top 3 heros if you’d have asked me five or so years ago. Alas, this is no more, to the point where I can honestly say hand on my heart I HATE VIRGIN. They completely messed up their takeover of NTL, and their trains aren’t much better. What’s worse than giving a really bad service? Not even having half way decent customer service to pick up the pieces.

Latest example – I was due to go to visit a client in Birmingham, and the track on which Virgin trains run had a signal failure that meant *all trains* out of Euston were cancelled that morning – so, all Virgin trains heading north. Thankfully I had a very good and kind client (Antonio Gould @ Maverick TV) who was fine for me to do the rest of the consultancy work from Chinwag‘s offices in London, so at least I didn’t loose a day’s work.

So, I followed the reclaim ticket refund to the letter, and sent my tickets recorded delivery back to customer services, with all the bits quoted, to get a refund for my £50 return ticket that I couldn’t use.

Today, 5 weeks later, I have received a letter with a cheque for £23 from Virgin THAT CAN ONLY BE USED TO BUY MORE TRAIN JOURNEYS. Why £23? Well, Virgin’s logic is that even though they are obliged to refund the whole ticket, because in theory I could have used the return part of my ticket (which I didn’t, and they know I didn’t as they received it with my correspondence, seeing as how I couldn’t get to Birmingham) they only have to give me money to cover the part of the journey that was cancelled.

I am absolutely livid, and from hence forth will be boycotting all Virgin products.

Richard Branson – for running a set of companies that has beyond any doubt in my mind the WORST service I’ve ever encountered, I no longer think you anything other than a shyster and showman. You couldn’t run a business if it bit you on the arse, you’re just good at making money from cutting way too many corners. You should be ashamed.

About Thayer Prime

Tall. Eats a lot. Talks too much. I tweet over @thayer
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8 Responses to Why I hate the Virgin brand so much

  1. Anonymous says:

    That is utterly ridiculous.
    I love the way they sell the single tickets at a pound less than the return tickets, then only refund you half if you can’t use one of them.
    What exactly were you supposed to do? Hitch a lift to Brum then use your return ticket?
    I had a great one on Friday – I was on the way to Newcastle, so as per instructions got on the 15.03 train to Glasgow. Trouble is there are two 15.03s to Glasgow. One goes up the West Coast and the other goes up the East Coast. I ended up going via Carlisle and being 2 hours late.
    Thing is when you live outside London you just get used to this rubbish.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Train companies
    With all respect due them, I’m convinced *all* train companies’ administration recruitment requirements must have “C*NT” in bold at the very top of the list.
    Virgin seem truly shambolic as a modern company, but their farcical train “service” seems guilty of little more than simply following suit. Certainly doesn’t excuse it though.
    Why must all train companies be such utter b*stards? Outrageously disproportionate pricing structures (i.e. 80% cheaper off peak), coupled with total and overbearing contempt for their paying customers, has put me off public transport for life.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Utterly agree. It used to be such a wonderful brand but it is now marred by <a href="http://www.boingboing.net/2008/04/13/virgin-media-ceo-net.html
    “>idiots and idiots.

  4. Anonymous says:

    That’s absolute genius! Well, it’s not, it’s shocking. I’d go nuclear on their arse and demand not only a full refund, but also compensation for wasting your time. And your clients’ time too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well, yeah, you only just noticed?
    I’ve never understood why anybody ever respected the Virgin brand at all. Go and look at the figures – he runs dozens (hundreds, in fact!) of businesses, nearly all of which lose money.
    Virgin Atlantic is profitable, and thanks to VERY substantial hand-outs via National Rail he can show a net positive on the balance sheet of Virgin trains, but everything else loses money. That’s right, virtually everything Branson has done has been in business terms a complete failure. The profits from Atlantic and Rail have historically subsidised and kept everything else afloat.
    I’ve not looked at the balance sheet for Mobile and Media yet, but guess what I’m expecting?
    And yet is he is admired and respected as if he dumps golden eggs into the hands of the shareholders of every business he touches. He is an astonishingly poor businessman.
    I’m amazed you got any refund at all to be honest. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they hadn’t told you to go and whine to your MP to put pressure on National Rail to give you a refund.
    There’s a reason the govt have taken all but one train franchise off him – they think he’s running the network into the ground. There’s also good reasoning behind him not getting access to T5 and the new slots at Heathrow for much the same reason.
    So, welcome to your new age of enlightenment Thayer. Some of us have been watching him and the public’s admiration for over a decade now, and we’ve always been seriously confused. Now you can see it all for what it is: a publicity exercise that through taxpayer’s money and one airline operating on a route it’s impossible to lose money on has managed to *just* remain profitable.
    Anybody want a spread bet on when exactly the whole house of cards crashes down on top of him?
    Also, don’t get too stressed and angry: it’s not good for the baby. 😉

  6. Anonymous says:

    please dont be upset with what have they given to you, i know ethically speaking you should have got your entire money however if you had advance purchase tickets which i suspect you had according to national carriage act you are entitled to only 20% of you ticket price as a refund… and brother nobody on this earth is sincere or generous enough to loose their money when it comes to business, though i am with you on the fact that the full amount should have been given to you

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