Virgin Blue’s gold class Velocity email blunder

It’s the kind of database blunder that must give marketing directors nightmares.  

On Friday afternoon – which was, appropriately enough for the airline, Friday the 13th – Virgin Blue emailed its entire Velocity loyalty scheme database (including those who had opted out of receiving messages) with the following news:  

“We’ve got a treat for you – a free upgrade to Velocity Gold!”

The letter continues:

  •  It starts with free Lounge membership, so you can catch up on work, relax and escape the airport crowds.
  • As before, you can breeze right through the airport with priority check-in.
  • You now get up to 32kg of checked baggage at no cost.
  • Plus, two personalised baggage tags (coming soon to your letterbox) and more.

But on Friday night, a further email arrived, somewhat shorter than the first, breaking the bad news:

Oops! Due to an error you’ve received our previous email by mistake. Please disregard the free upgrade communication as unfortunately you do not qualify for that upgrade.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Warm regards,

The Velocity Team

Update: A spokesman for Virgin Blue told Mumbrella: “We can confirm Friday’s email send was the result of a processing error. Of course, we a very sorry for any disappointment caused and are relieved that many of our Members realised it must have been an error even before we sent out the correction notice.”

 Virgin Blue gold letter 1

 Virgin Blue Gold letter 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments


  1. Amy
    14 Nov 09
    5:51 pm

  2. I got this! And was soo excited. Totally let down when the next email arrived. I think they should have to honour these. If it was a competition then they’d be liable so why not now?

  3. BD
    14 Nov 09
    5:55 pm

  4. I agree with Amy — on my blog, I’ve even floated the idea of a class action. The very least they could do is give us all a free Lounge pass for onetime use so we can briefly enjoy what they promised was ours.

  5. Marcus
    14 Nov 09
    5:56 pm

  6. Epic Marketing Fail!

    I would have booked all my flights for the next year exclusively with Virgin Blue if I had Gold Status. They withdrew the offer 10 hours later, I am not impressed. I will book my flights with any airline except Virgin Blue now.

    Any trade practices experts care to comment?

  7. Marek
    14 Nov 09
    6:01 pm

  8. A quick twitter search for Velocityrewards reveals we are not alone.
    But a blogpost was bought to my attention by @ozdj regarding the validity of outrage or complaint about something ‘we never were entitled to’ nor ‘have we suffered any loss’.

    I feel that the very least, a more hearty apology should be extended, rather than a rushed and generic message. Perhaps individual @replies to those talking about it on Twitter would be a measured approach to Issue Management on this, especially given @VirginBlue twitter presence.

    The very long, interesting and timely post can be found here:
    http://bit.ly/2FXpye

  9. Larry
    14 Nov 09
    6:02 pm

  10. it was an error people, get over it.

    class action? get a life dude!!

  11. David
    14 Nov 09
    6:06 pm

  12. There has been so much traffic around this topic i would guess that more than just a few people were affected, could be even a majority of their members…

  13. Nancy
    14 Nov 09
    6:33 pm

  14. When I got this email I knew it must’ve been an error, as I have not even got Silver velocity status. People, we do not deserve the status, and we have suffered no loss by this, so give Virgin a break, every company makes mistakes. Where’s a bit of understanding gone? Seriously, is this what the world has come to, class action for a mistake? Who cares. I bet you wouldn’t like it if every time you made a mistake, you had to pay for it.

  15. Are we really that hard up
    14 Nov 09
    6:54 pm

  16. The danger of connected audiences who want something for nothing. All of a sudden we’ll be reading how this is a bigger problem for Virgin than Vegemite 2.0 let’s not use the net for evil. You didn’t get it, you don’t deserve it, so get over it.

  17. Peter Schmitt
    14 Nov 09
    7:09 pm

  18. Me, my wife and 5-year old daughter all got ‘upgraded’. Because my daughter is opted-out of communications they also noted in the later ‘Ooops’ message to her that this email had gone to the ENTIRE database including people who were opted-out.
    I agree that we hadn’t earned the upgrade and therefore having it ‘taken away’ again is legitimate. That said, a small token such as some miles/points would help compensate for the disappointment.

  19. Marcus
    14 Nov 09
    7:13 pm

  20. I have silver status and have been a loyal member since velocity rewards started in 2005. I did not feel I was getting something for nothing, I thought I had earned gold status for being a loyal silver member.

    My problem is that it was at least 10 hours before I received the retraction email. What if I had booked flights during this 10 hour period specifically because I thought I had gold status?

    For most it was just a let down. Others may have been misled in choosing to fly Virgin as a result of the email, that is the issue here.

  21. VERY frequent flyer
    14 Nov 09
    10:48 pm

  22. Here’s what I think irritates people most. Well, at least it does me.

    Yes, it was a mistake. And, true to their brand, they communicated the error with a bit of cheek. BUT, let’s just say you purchased one of those “non-refundable, can not cancel, no changes allowed” tickets. Then you realise that you made a mistake –perhaps booked it for the wrong date, maybe found a cheaper fare. Do you think you could ring up and say “Oops! Please disregard my booking. I apologise for any inconvenience caused” and get all your money back?

    I bet not.

  23. Hrm
    14 Nov 09
    10:53 pm

  24. This thread is sad. The sense of entitlement and self righteousness is astounding.

  25. thewinchester
    15 Nov 09
    2:50 am

  26. @Hrm: If you think the self-entitlement is sad, go pop into some of the frequent flyer forums and posts over the last couple of days which shine even more light on just how badly Virgin Blue handled the whole incident.

    Seriously, this is a prime example of how not to do email communications, and marketing in general. They took too long to correct the mistake, failed to pass information on the mistake to their frontline service staff, and even then their checks, balances and controls in their email marketing systems shouldn’t have allowed something so stupid to happen in the first place.

    All the airline managed to do is give a lot of loyal customers the shits, and open themselves up to significant breaches of the Spam Act 2003. Whoever was involved in this mistake should at the very least be given a good kicking.

  27. Stilgherrian
    15 Nov 09
    6:56 am

  28. Hmmm… I got the first email, thought “That can’t be right, I haven’t flown with Virgin Blue this year” When I saw comments appearing online I figured it must be widespread error. I chuckled a bit. When the second email arrived, I nodded my head. And then I got on with my life.

    To the folks demanding free stuff, “Stop being such selfish, greedy tools.” Compensation? Compensation for what? Compensation for being too stupid to realise the email was obviously a mistake? Compensation for having a vastly over-inflated sense of entitlement? I don’t think that’s Virgin Blue’s fault!

    To the folks thinking this is some sort of “epic fail” on Virgin Blue’s part, perhaps step back a little and think about the full gamut of things which an airline can get wrong and the potential consequences.

    Up one end, you’ve got mistakes where hundreds of people die in a ball of flame, traumatising their loved ones. Down the other end you’ve got… a marketing email that was sent to people by mistake.

    To the folks who reckon they’d have handled it better and quicker, well, are you really set up to handle such an unusual situation on a Friday night? Personally, I reckon identifying the problem and getting the second email out in three hours isn’t a bad effort.

    I reckon — and this is just my opinion here — but I reckon we save the Really Big Stick for mistakes which actually matter.

  29. Steph
    15 Nov 09
    8:26 am

  30. I think this is the perfect portrayal of the greedy people consumerism has made many. I am sure in all of your own lines of work you have experienced error and perhaps even been at fault? This was a simple technical error and as mentioned above – you didn’t earn the gold status, you had nothing ‘taken away from you’ so therefore you are not entitled to it. Move forward…

  31. JUST the customer
    15 Nov 09
    9:01 am

  32. Should Virgin be responsible for this mistake? Are you kidding??

    Here, for example, is point 10 (of 23) in their terms and conditions. It concerns missing a connection which is marketed as a “connecting flight”. It demonstrates that they are not responsible for anything; let alone a mistaken e-mail!

    10. The Carrier may offer two or more flight sectors for sale as a scheduled connection (“Connecting Flight”). Subject to clause 8, in the event that a Connecting Flight fails to connect, the Carrier will use best endeavours to enable the Guest to travel on the Carrier’s next available flight to the destination at which the Guest was due to arrive on the Connecting Flight. However, the Carrier does not provide any guarantee whatsoever that any two or more single sector flights (which are not offered for sale as Connecting Flights) will connect (even though a Guest may book such single sector flights with the intention of those flights connecting). Subject to the provisions of these terms and conditions of carriage and any applicable laws, the Carrier is not liable in any way for or in connection with any Loss which a Guest may incur as a result of any such single sector Booked flights failing to connect. Further, other than for Connecting Flights, in no circumstances does the Carrier offer, provide or guarantee connections between the flights it offers and the flights of another carrier or any other form of transport, and subject to the provisions of these terms and conditions of carriage and any applicable laws, the Carrier is not liable in any way for or in connection with any Loss which a Guest may incur as a result of any such flight failing to connect with the flight of another carrier or another form of transport.

  33. Brendon
    15 Nov 09
    9:49 am

  34. When I got the email I have to admit I was very excited… “Bugger Qantas, I’m flying Virgin Blue”, I thought. Then I found I couldn’t log into my Velocity Rewards account – and that’s what crapped me off. I guess they were trying to fix the system quick smart.

    Anyway, suffice to say, my life will go on. Everyone makes mistakes ocassionally… but I gotta say a free Lounge pass would be nice incentive to fly with them…

  35. James
    15 Nov 09
    3:54 pm

  36. FAIL! I got the email and was so excited!! Sad customer here!

  37. Lou
    15 Nov 09
    5:21 pm

  38. If you really feel that it was handled poorly, then the right place to direct your comments to is to Virgin Blue’s CEO and Board as well as to Richard Branson – one of the world’s most astute marketers. Whilst I believe he isn’t directly involved with Virgin Blue, the Virgin brand name and his are singularly linked.

    There are a number of ways that VB could have turned this event into a singularly positive marketing recovery which would have clearly differentiated them from their main domestic competitors. Unfortunate really – now the damage is done and will take a lot of ad $$ to recover.

  39. Larry
    15 Nov 09
    6:40 pm

  40. @lou “now the damage is done and will take a lot of ad $$ to recover.”

    why? how? please explain this statement.

    and tell us how they could have turned it into a positive marketing recovery too while you’re at it. and also, while you’re at it, tell us how you qualify to make statements about the marketing efforts of a publicly listed company.

    mumbrella readers – the backseat drivers of media and advertising

  41. David
    15 Nov 09
    7:08 pm

  42. Why do people make comments but do not feel confident enough to add what website you are associated with? Especially if people like @Larry just want to be outspoken and negative…

    It seems a fairly simple concept, PR nightmare means Virgin/Velocity will have to buy ad space to get the message out about what really happened… if there is an issue the worst thing is for a company to just avoid the issue and hope it goes away…

    @Larry read my article if you want to find out how they could have responded better…

    http://thelostagency.wordpress.....y-upgrade/

  43. Larry
    15 Nov 09
    8:03 pm

  44. sorry, but why would VB buy advertising space to get the “message” out? all the ppl impacted they already have a direct line to through their database. i can’t see what ads will do to fix anything … if, in fact, the issue isn’t resolved for everyone that isn’t a self important whiny marketing amateur.

    i’m not being negative, it’s just the concept of buying ads as a consequence of a dispatch error is idiotic as is the whole fuss around what is a pretty minor error that was corrected only hours after.

  45. David Jackmanson
    15 Nov 09
    9:20 pm

  46. I’m with Stigherrian, Darryl King and Larry at comment 5 – the whining, self-important bleaters need to get a life.

    Is there anyone here who really travels Virgin Blue for any reason other than low prices? I use them almost every time I fly, not out of “loyalty” (I don’t believe in loyalty to those who merely supply me goods and services), but because they usually have the cheapest fares by far.

    I’d be amused to see on what grounds people think a class action could be launched. Pain and suffering for being excluded from the lounge? Humiliation for not having a “special” baggage tag? Or maybe the ten dollar financial loss caused by having to pay for a checked baggage allowance each time you fly?

    It’s a hopeless fantasy I realise, but I’d love Virgin’s PR flack to stand up and say “Sorry, we stuffed up. Our fault. But if you are so dumb you think we can afford to extend these privileges to every single member of our frequent flyers scheme, you are an entitled arse with no idea of how a budget airline’s cash flow works, and we’d be better off without your business.”

    Of course, they’d say it in their irritating faux-matey tone and use several exclamation points after each sentence, but you get the idea.

  47. iWonder
    15 Nov 09
    9:42 pm

  48. @Larry . . . methinks he doth protest too much. Come on Larry, was it YOU? Your mistake?? You can tell us here.

  49. z17813
    16 Nov 09
    3:40 am

  50. I think that when you have made a mistake you should do more to make it right. All the “they should have to honour it” stuff is nonsense but some token (essentially meaningless) gesture like 100 velocity points or the like would be good to lower the sense of disappointment they clearly created for a number of people.
    Mailing out to people who have opted out is a more significant issue, I doubt anything will come of it but who knows.

  51. cg
    16 Nov 09
    8:25 am

  52. Why were there so many advertising/media/marketing people at there computer on Friday night is a much larger problem this has exposed, not some email fuck up. Please discuss…

  53. cg
    16 Nov 09
    8:26 am

  54. Know you ‘ve had a good weekend when you can’t spell their on Monday morning…

  55. emma
    16 Nov 09
    9:44 am

  56. I was very disappointed, especially as I had actually come so close and then to receive the retracted email! The points above about Virgin have so many disclaimers in their terms and conditions about not taking responsibility for anything rings very true.

    I have made a couple of mistakes in the past with booking incorrect flights, in which I have taken full responsibility for and paid for another flight (rather than go with the competition). So retracting an offer of upgrading to Gold when I actually am so close seems very harsh – obviously the free upgrade was meant for some silver members, so why not honour it to those who have come so close, and offer a token to others (like a lounge pass, or free points) to the others. Take accountably Virgin!

  57. Bob
    16 Nov 09
    10:49 am

  58. It’s hilarious when people whinge about other people whinging, and overreact to people they think are overreacting and say things like “get over it”… Kind of ironic don’t you think…? So someone should get over an email mistake from a company they are a customer of but you can’t get over their complaint in the comments of a post… haha… Also @Larry what qualifies you to ask so many questions in such a small comment, and while you’re at it, what qualifies you to ask for qualfications..? why? how?

  59. Larry
    16 Nov 09
    10:53 am

  60. Bob as a reader of Mumbrella I feel the least I am owed is for all other readers and commentators to disclose their qualifications and right to have an opinion, whilst I sit around on my soap box doing nothing.

  61. Steph
    16 Nov 09
    11:01 am

  62. Bob if its so hilarious then why are you too whinging about people whinging? This could be analysed til the cows come home at the end of the day it was a mistake in a work environment something which occurs across every industry and a mistake is something I am sure every single one of you has made at some point in your life

  63. Big Ed
    16 Nov 09
    11:36 am

  64. Some day I’m hoping to see/hear a real apology from a brand. Of all brands, Virgin, should be well-placed to make one.

    Not “real”: We are sorry for any inconvenience . . . (minimizes the impact)
    Not “real”. we are very sorry for any disappointment caused (no harm, just disappointment)

    Real: We are sorry we f**ked up. We’ll try to do better next time.

    In other words, it was our mistake and we’re sorry. Not, “it’s too bad you made the mistake of feeling disappointed” or “I can’t believe you are so gullible and think that this trivial ‘inconvenience’ should matter at all”.

  65. Dirk
    16 Nov 09
    12:14 pm

  66. I thought this was Virgin saying sorry for wheels falling off their planes, and if we could please fly with them because a couple of pre-flight drinks in the lounge will take the edge off a potential near-death flying experience due to cost-cutting in maintenance.

  67. Roy
    16 Nov 09
    12:52 pm

  68. Come on guys!

    Regardless of the circumstances it is a MATTER OF ETHICS! If you make an offer (such as wrong pricing), the law requires you to honour it. Why not in this case?

    I have been reading the blog posts around this issue and I think most of the comments are from carefully orchestrated “bloggers” paid by Virgin Blue to spin this topic to make it sound like effected people are mean and stingy. What do you say to that guys?

    Where your ethics and principles Virgin Blue! This kind of behaviour is something that I would expect from Qantas and NOT Virgin Blue!

    Roy

  69. Steph
    16 Nov 09
    12:54 pm

  70. Roy, just thought I’d let you know I am definitely NOT being paid by Virgin to say that it’s a simple mistake… It’s what I truly believe. All you have to do is some role reversal… what if something similar happened in your role? would your company have to honour it?

  71. KCMG
    16 Nov 09
    2:23 pm

  72. It’s a mistake and I think that Virgin Blue/Velocity Rewards handled it appropriately.

    I know of another such email error that due to an inept and tardy decision making process by an agency, cost a supplier several hundred thousand dollars.

    The best course of action is a simple acknowledgement of the error, a sincere apology and move on.

    Shove your class actions up your clacker – that’s the best place for them.

  73. ashley
    16 Nov 09
    2:31 pm

  74. I thought Very Frequent Flyer’s point was the best:
    “Yes, it was a mistake. However, let’s just say you purchased one of those “non-refundable, can not cancel, no changes allowed” tickets. Then you realise that you made a mistake –perhaps booked it for the wrong date, maybe found a cheaper fare. Do you think you could ring up and say “Oops! Please disregard my booking. I apologise for any inconvenience caused” and get all your money back?

    I bet not.

    A

  75. Annette
    16 Nov 09
    2:34 pm

  76. Incorrectly offering the upgrade would have been embarrassing (and someone in Virgin Blue would have spent the entire weekend kicking themselves – or being kicked) and the offer mistake and retraction has had enough analysis.

    My concern is that opt-out emails were also included.

    What are they sending emails with? Outlook Express?
    Where is their email opt-out system required by the spam act that doesn’t allow the sending – no matter what you try? or even if you make an innocent mistake?

    Might be time for Virgin Blue to ‘upgrade’ their email communication system to something with a bit more smarts.

  77. Steph
    16 Nov 09
    2:37 pm

  78. The probability of error is much higher sending the wrong email to people than the error involved in purchasing a flight. Most people purchase non-refundable, non-chanegable flights because they are cheaper so generally are very prudent when it comes to ensuring the details are correcting. The digital revolution has caused many emails to end up in the inboxes of incorrect recipients, something which I am sure many people do as oppose to making a mistake with their flight purchase…

  79. C K Cash
    16 Nov 09
    2:37 pm

  80. Probably could have been handled better by Virgin Blue…I bet someone got their butt kicked over this blunder…

  81. Brendon
    16 Nov 09
    2:38 pm

  82. At risk of being a whinger, seriously people: just less of the self righteous indignation. Lose that whole “self righteous indignation” from your life.

    If something like this is enough to get you annoyed then you seriously need to get a life and stop being such a boring, stupid little person.

    And BD (comment # 2) – a Class Action??? Oh my goodness!!
    Mate, get out more and get laid. You’ll feel a whole lot better.

  83. Tiger Airways
    16 Nov 09
    2:39 pm

  84. Who flies Virgin these days anyway – Tiger Airways is much cheaper.

    http://www.tigerairways.com/au/en/

  85. Are we really that hard up
    16 Nov 09
    2:42 pm

  86. Well what do you know its official as predicted at 6.54pm on Nov 14, the Virgin Blue catastrophe could eclipse 2.0! My God people everywhere cancel reservations – If they can make a mistake with an e-mail, who knows what they’re capable of doing with a plane. The fact so many are calling for compensation is am embarrassment – get over it!

  87. Kim
    16 Nov 09
    2:51 pm

  88. I have been planning a couple of trips to America in the next few months. As a silver member and pretty close to gold, I actually thought the “upgrade” was real and started thinking seriously about flying to America on V Australia instead of Air NZ, my usual airline. Actually, my husband had just flown V Australia and said it was great, so I was already open to giving them a go.

    I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t got the nod, but no harm was done. Computer glitches happen. If you run any kind of database (I do), something like this has probably happened to you.

    I think they handled it appropriately and the people who want compensation ought to haul their whinging arses in front to a mirror and have a good, hard look at themselves.

  89. GH
    16 Nov 09
    2:56 pm

  90. I was going to get my company to book all our flights with Virgin i was stoked, then the second email came, what a let down lol

    if they cant get that right how can they keep a plane in the air lol

    Go Qantas!

  91. Granleese
    16 Nov 09
    2:57 pm

  92. Hey.. isn’t Mumbrella supposed to be a marketing blog? Not a consumer complaint line?

    I thought the negative impact on Velocity Gold Membership’s perceived exclusivity and status would be much more interesting to analyze.

    I think the mistake of sending this email to so many people would have devalued the loyalty program.

  93. Spunky1972
    16 Nov 09
    2:57 pm

  94. I deleted the mail without reading it, however, now I have had my attention drawn to it I feel robbed by Virgin Blue…..in fact, thinking about it, I also feel that Tatts has completely let me down – I should have won the lottery…even thought I’ve never actually bought a ticket

  95. JamesWelch
    16 Nov 09
    3:07 pm

  96. Dear Mumbo and commentators, if I burned my tongue on the hot coffee in a multinational fastfood restaurant, should I sue or should I just get on with the day?

    I think I’d just not go back to that restaurant chain for a while as I feel miffed for being an idiot.

    Similarly, I got the email and said to my wife, “Ooh look, they must have realised that I flew one way to Brisbane last week and they must have guessed that I flew back with someone else. That’s smart database management.” And I made a mental note to ALWAYS fly Virgin. Even long-haul.

    But now? “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” I think I’ll go back to proactive shopping. Redeemaphobia just set in.

    TIGER here I come!

    (Still can’t believe I believed that I had won Gold in the airmiles race. D’oh!)

  97. Craig Pearce
    16 Nov 09
    3:11 pm

  98. At the risk of accusations of inappropriate linkbaiting, the Virgin glitch is quite ironic in the context of a guest post written for my blog that went live on the same day as the glitch occurred.

    It is on the topic of using customer complaints to create brand equity – and it uses Virgin as a very positive example of how it should be done!!

    Anyway, it’s here if you are interested (and hopefully you will agree it is relevant to the issue at hand): http://craigpearce.info/?p=173

  99. John Grono
    16 Nov 09
    3:24 pm

  100. Etymologically speaking … what about their brand name?

    I get the “Blue” bit … because that was a pretty big blue … the whole email data base … eek! But it was just a blue – no-one lost an eye so it’s all fun and games.

    But the “Virgin” bit? I reckon after that poor effort they’re pretty f***ed.

  101. Andrew
    16 Nov 09
    3:32 pm

  102. Who cares. Having been treated like crap by Virgin Blue on too many occassions this sort of mistake doesn’t surprise me. It is why I fly Virgin Blue only when I have to, not everyone wants to be squeezed into a seat as one of their hosties shirts and then be forced to pay for everything when as a platinum frequent flyer with Qantas I am treated like I count.
    To me, Virgin Blue ranks right up there with American Express for organisations with a false brand promise.

  103. Tony Rambaut
    16 Nov 09
    3:38 pm

  104. This should never have happened – but it wasn’t malicious, so talk of compensation and ‘class actions’ is inappropriate. As part of their apology they could have given those that didn’t qualify a few free points. It would have turned adversity into opportunity.

  105. josh909
    16 Nov 09
    3:49 pm

  106. Obviously none of you that are demanding free flights have ever made a mistake over the course of your professional careers.

    Yes, I can understand how people could/would have been disappointed – hopefully you’ve moved on by now or found something else to cry about. As for those marketing geniuses claiming it was part of an elaborate PR exercise, i would recommend you cut back on the meth.

  107. C K Cash
    16 Nov 09
    4:10 pm

  108. Andrew, I agree with your comment “To me, Virgin Blue ranks right up there with American Express for organisations with a false brand promise.”

    On top of that, how cheapened has the AMEX brand gotten with people trying to flog you an AMEX card at the shopping centre or Airport…not very classy!

  109. John Grono
    16 Nov 09
    4:16 pm

  110. Hey CK. Pick me up an application form next time will ya?

    The buggers cancelled my fee-free Amex card just because I hadn’t used it in around 5 years. Thought I might apply for another one … just to keep the junk email going.

  111. Luke
    16 Nov 09
    4:18 pm

  112. SELECT * FROM Subscribers

    lol
    get over it people

  113. Rascally
    16 Nov 09
    4:21 pm

  114. Some people look for any opportunity to moan. There were even people who tried to sue US Airways when Sully glided their plane into the Hudson River. What for? Because their shoes got wet?

    Get over it people. The world has some serious problems and this is not one of them.

  115. the kid
    16 Nov 09
    4:23 pm

  116. …. you know whats worse? They’re not even real virgins. I’m serious… some of them have actually had sex!

  117. Stilgherrian
    16 Nov 09
    4:41 pm

  118. I suppose I should put on the record that no, I am not being paid by Virgin Blue, and never have been. Well, except that one time they gave me a meal voucher ‘cos my flight was delayed by weather.

    If I ever have a connection with an organisation or person I’m writing about — financial or otherwise — I’ll disclose it. I mean, that’s what ethical people do, right?

  119. Mick
    16 Nov 09
    4:58 pm

  120. I have worked at Virgin and it sure does smell like one of their hair brain marketing stunts.

  121. s
    16 Nov 09
    5:11 pm

  122. All these people grabbing at the smallest possibility of a freebie is disgusting! you bogans! it was a mistake, get over it, and do some research before you go making bold suggestions millions of people received that email in error and virgin blue handled it well.

  123. Will Scully-Power
    16 Nov 09
    5:37 pm

  124. Database Marketing – The New Frontier – Breakfast Briefing – 24 November 2009: http://mumbrella.com.au/events?event_id=154

  125. David Jackmanson
    16 Nov 09
    9:01 pm

  126. I have been reading the blog posts around this issue and I think most of the comments are from carefully orchestrated “bloggers” paid by Virgin Blue to spin this topic to make it sound like effected people are mean and stingy. What do you say to that guys?

    Bwahahahahahahaha!

    For the record, I have not been paid in cash, goods, services or any other consideration by anyone in any way for expressing my opinion on this matter, and my opinion is my own.

    On the other hand, I *have* been greatly advantaged as a passenger (not “guest” as their cheesy branding calls it) by Virgin Blue’s cheap air fares. However I have no loyalty to them and will generally make my flight choices based on price.

  127. robert
    16 Nov 09
    10:56 pm

  128. it was a pleasant suprise and hence it was an offer to its vip customers
    virgin should honour it. It wont cost them all that much.
    if woolworths scans an item at a wrong price u get it for free.
    i am sure tham mr branson will honour this commitment

  129. Andrew
    17 Nov 09
    12:54 am

  130. I’m sure if anyone genuinely did act in reliance in those 3 hours they would be compensated for any loss (e.g. booked with VB rather than QANTAS assuming they would have a lounge access would get the lounge access on that flight, as a one-off). The rest of you have no claim – your only rights are to an apology. It was an offer without consideration and hence no valid contract can be formed; also the “ad idem” test was not met.

    I’m still waiting for QANTAS to compensate me for flying me LAX-SYD instead of LAX-AKL-SYD when my flight was cancelled. That’s NOT the same thing I paid for.

  131. Peter
    17 Nov 09
    8:07 am

  132. I too recieved the emails, and am rather disappointed. Of course I thought as soon as I read the first email it was probably an error. Though by the time I got the 2nd email (the next day), I had convinced myself that this was some sort of marketing campaign etc due to the recent launch of V Australia. So I was rather disappointed. I had decided that I should try to fly Virgin and V Australia whenever possible. Of course now I am rather annoyed, particularly with the flippant email chalking it up to Friday the 13th – hardly an apology in my book. So have made it my mission to discourage all friends and family from using companies under the Virgin label. Obviously we have no legal recourse, as some have already explained – but we can use our collective consumer power to show our dissatisfaction. I am not on any social networking sites, but I encourage those of you into that sort of thing to create a user group dedicated to this subject. If enough people joined up then Virgin would have to consider a more sincere response other than it was a Friday the 13th stuff up. I would also encourage those annoyed by this to boycott all affiliate companies that advertise on the Velocity Rewards website. I won’t be flying with Virgin or V again, but for those of you that are I can only hope and pray the cabin crew and flight staff are more competent and have a greater attention to detail than senior management. Though given a fish rots from the head – that may be wishful thinking.

  133. Stilgherrian
    17 Nov 09
    8:30 am

  134. So, Peter (66), you figured it was probably a mistake for the start, you acknowledge there’s no legal basis for Virgin Blue owing you anything, but your gripe is that the apology wasn’t worded sufficiently grovelling enough for you? Wasn’t “sincere”? And this now justifies making it your mission to discourage all friends and family from using companies under the Virgin label?

    Disproportionate reaction much?

    I don’t think a corporation can be bullied into “sincerity”. “Mate, I’m gonna punch you in the face until you’re genuinely nice to me.” Yeah right.

  135. Peter
    17 Nov 09
    8:46 am

  136. Stilgherrian (67) I don’t expect them to grovel, but I do expect them to be sincere in their apology rather than being flippant. Is my reaction proportionate? Probably not. But that is the nature of the beast when you are an organisation dealing with customers – you need to treat your customers well or they may dessert you and it may be over trivial matters that you lose customers. As to your bullying claim, I think you are being a little dramatic. I am one individual expressing my view. Virgin is a large organisation and I am sure they can cope with a little criticism. Am I not entitled to express my view?

  137. Stilgherrian
    17 Nov 09
    8:59 am

  138. That’s the joy of it all, Peter, yes you’re entitled to express your view. Which obviously I disagree with.

    Is “bullying” a little dramatic? Well, you’re talking about organising people into an angry mob to demand something. If it’s not bullying itself, it’s certainly a step in that direction.

    In all of this, I’m wondering what part of “Oops… We apologise” isn’t an apology. I guess it illustrates something about human nature: I just can’t see why anyone who hadn’t actually booked flights on the basis of the erroneous email would get so worked up about it. Of all the “problems” one might have to face in the world, this all seems very, very trivial.

  139. Anon
    17 Nov 09
    9:46 am

  140. I complained to them via return email and they have since honoured the deal

  141. C K Cash
    17 Nov 09
    9:50 am

  142. ?

  143. Ex Virgin Customer
    17 Nov 09
    11:35 am

  144. Here is my take on the issue.

    I have been a Velocity member for 3 years and have been a Virgin customer for 7-8 years. I have found to velocity rewards to be big on promises but low on actual tangible benefits to me, compared to Qantas rewards Velocity is a bit of a joke.

    In spite of the anti spam laws I note that I constantly receive velocity marketing emails that do not have a valid reply to address and no opt out link or reply to email address within the email. I have yet to see anything within the velocity spam emails that interest me.

    In contrast it seems velocity do not want emails from me as one almost needs to be a member of the FBI to find a valid email address to reply to them as opposed to impersonal web forms that do not seem to get answered with anything other than cut and paste bog standard responses.

    The gold upgrade was a step in the right direction, I thought finally I am being offered something that seems worth the effort of supporting this company by purchasing its products and services. But no it was more smoke and mirrors.

    No reply has been received to my email of protest (it took 3 hours to find a valid email address for them). admin@velocityrewards.com.au

    I for one will be voting with my feet, Qantas/Tiger offer everything and more than Virgin does, they do it better, often cheaper, with more efficiency, without spam.

    Qantas Frequent Flyer provide a genuine email address to reply to and they actually respond like a normal person would, their rewards are quite decent as well.

    One last thing to remember Qantas is an Australian company and an iconic brand why not support the the local guy especially as they are offering a better deal and it seems they have a lot more respect for customers.

  145. Vote with your feet
    17 Nov 09
    11:48 am

  146. Bob
    17 Nov 09
    1:29 pm

  147. @Steph 16 Nov 09 11:01 am – Not sure where you got that I was whinging, I was just pointing out the irony. Regardless very big mistake from VirginBlue which will cost them a fair amount in the customer satisfaction/loyalty department.

  148. Stilgherrian
    17 Nov 09
    1:44 pm

  149. Fairfax is now reporting that the naughty email went to more than a million people. Even a free sandwich and coffee to 5% of them adds up to half a million dollars.

  150. Dan Brian
    24 Nov 09
    1:14 am

  151. Guys, at the risk of being shouted down, I’m going to speak up for some of the inhouse PR folks at virgin who I’ve worked with briefly in the past. En masse they are a talented hardworking bunch who have obviously dropped the ball here like we all have at some point.

    Tim, I noticed in the podcast you ribbed them over the media duty contacts. Agreed the web contacts are arguably inadequate but I pulled the Comms Mgr’s number from the third and four google search result on: “virgin blue media release” both email, mobile, and landlines first go….as any journo might have done also. Here’s the search http://bit.ly/5LklhJ

    Compared to the massive level of PR and media ignorance and incompetence we see daily at other Australian companies VB have a solid track record of trying new things (the hangerballs, the Branson stunts, etc) and get a ton of favourable press on a semi-regular basis so I’m saying they deserve a measured amount of tar and feathering… at least from their peers.

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