Virgin Atlantic employ Enigma machine in customer services

By sharing this, I'm probably going to get my teeth kicked out before I reach check-in. See, I've been enjoying an email ding-dong with customer services at Virgin Atlantic, after booking a return flight to New York two weeks ago. My gripe is that I booked my flight in a 24 hour window between Virgin announcing a reduction in flight surcharges and the reductions been implemented, hence I paid the full price rather than the reduced price. In my third email, I thought I'd explained my views in a simple and polite manner:

My point is that the price decreases were announced the day before I booked, but were not implemented until the day after I booked. There was a 24 hour window in which prices were due to be lowered but weren't.

Would it not be in the interest of the customer for operators to mention that the airline has announced imminent price cuts when booking, especially when contacting the airline in this 24 hour window?

I constantly go out my way to fly Virgin (it's cheaper and easier for me to travel to Manchester and fly Delta), so I thought that asking for a voucher covering the difference wasn't unreasonable.

Whether or not you think I'm entitled to renumeration isn't the point here, I'm not trying to garner support for a personal issue. What I wanted to share was the response from Virgin Atlantic to the above email. I asked a reasonable, uncomplicated question. After several days of hoping I'd go away, the customer service representative seemingly couldn't be bothered to entertain my complaint any longer. Cue the most impenetrable, least consumer-friendly email I've ever received:

Dear Paul

Thank you for your email and apologies for the delayed response.

I would like to inform you that, in exceptional circumstances, charges may be imposed by us which are not taxes, fees or charges levied by the government or by a third party which are not normally applicable to our operations (for example, but not limited to, insurance premium supplements or additional security costs triggered by terrorism). Where such charges relate to carriage of passengers, we shall be entitled to require you to pay, as fare surcharges, all such charges attributable by us to your carriage (even if imposed after the date of issue of your Ticket), save that where the total of all surcharges payable exceeds £50 (or the equivalent amount in the currency used to purchase the ticket), you may choose not to pay and receive an involuntary refund in accordance with the provisions of Article 10.2.

Thank you for contacting Virgin Atlantic.

Kind Regards

Satnam Nagpal
Contact Centre Customer Service Team

Ask a simple question, get an answer that requires the services of Alan Turing. As far as I can see, the quote doesn't even relate to the issue since I'm not questioning an additional mandatory charge, a concern with insurances premiums or terrorism, nor am I requesting a refund as a result. It's almost as if the rep has cut and paste a random rule into an email in the hope that once and for all, I'll just fuck off.

Thank you, Virgin Atlantic. Delta, here I come.


  • Stephen
    but you have just read his email and fucked off.............. keep at them!
  • Paul S.
    You're right, dammit! I've just replied. I'll let you know what happens next! P
  • r b.
    dear paul, fuck off regards, richard branson
  • Bitterwallet B.
    [...] Complaints of The Week: Virgin Atlantic employ Enigma machine in customer service, TicketMaster hard to reach and of course, don’t forget Final Call for Nominations: Worst [...]
  • Nicole
    Virgin Customer Service is my new enemy. And I will not give up. Letter to them below: 20th October 2010 To Virgin Atlantic: Following my call to Virgin Atlantic Customer Service around 11:30pm tonight, I would like to log a formal complaint against an employee at your call centre called Michelle. I assume she is based out of a centre in or around India. Not only was she completely disrespectful, almost abusive, during our telephone conversation implying (explicitly) that she was doing me a favour by taking my call, but she also hung up on me when I asked to speak to her supervisor. I am outraged! It is my understanding that it has become popular amongst businesses to outsource services like call centres, but really some level of decency must be maintained. I am completely dismayed and feel shaken by the event. When I booked this ticket I went out of my way to select Virgin, knowing that although I was paying a higher cost I was also getting a better service. After realising I booked the incorrect date for my return trip I immediately called the FreePhone/Toll Free number and received not help, but a tirade. Is this how Virgin is training its staff? To yell at customers? Shocking! I would like to request that a formal investigation is launched and that this employee Michelle is terminated, or at the very least severely reprimanded and retrained. Michelle represented the Virgin brand very poorly, indeed, and I will think twice about booking with Virgin again lest I have to deal with someone like her; as a flight attendant her negligence could be lethal. Still my incorrect ticket remains unchanged and I am hesitant to call your FreePhone/Toll Free number again. Who would want to go back for a second round of abuse? No customer should have to take such treatment! Absolutely horrific. An abomination for the company and its stockholders. I just can't believe it. This is not the Virgin I have come to know and love. In the interest of full disclosure I am sending a copy of this letter to Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading. Other people must be protected from this type of indecency.

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