My strong dislike of Virgin Blue just ratcheted up a notch to “will avoid flying with them at any cost”. I received an email from Virgin Blue last night congratulating me on achieving Velocity Gold frequent flyer membership, only to receive another one an hour later saying “you do not qualify for this upgrade. Please disregard”.
The actual emails are after the jump.
Admittedly, I was surprised that I had qualified for Gold membership because I try to avoid flying Virgin Blue if I can and have only flown with them a few times in the past year (no alternative flights available). I loathe their too-cool-for-school flight attendants who tell tired and irritating jokes over the PA, and snap their fingers in front of your face if you’re not paying attention to the inflight safety instructions that you’ve seen 400 times before (yes, this actually happened to me.) I may be turning into a grumpy old man, but I like to be treated like a paying customer, not a naughty schoolboy, so I always try to fly Qantas if I can.
The email I got from Virgin last night told me that although I hadn’t qualified for Gold status, I came close, so they were giving it to me anyway and this would provide me with automatic Virgin Blue lounge membership. My thought process was: “hmm… that’s interesting. Maybe I might consider flying Virgin Blue slightly more often if I get to use their lounge before flights” (as this is the other reason I fly Qantas: very cheap Qantas Club membership through PBL Media’s corporate membership.)
Here’s the email:
And then an hour later, this one arrives:
While I can sympathise with Virgin Blue’s plight a bit (extending free lounge membership to their ENTIRE FREQUENT FLYER BASE would be a very expensive mistake), I can only say that their handling of the correction is attrocious. It doesn’t take a marketing expert to know that you don’t tell customers how much you value them, only to turn around just long enough for the warm glow to have sunk in, and then tell them that you don’t really value them that much after all.
I think at the very least a token restitution should have been made by Virgin Blue for the mistake — an allocation of frequent flyer points for each member perhaps, or some bonus status credits to help all those basic members a small way along the track towards becoming the gold member that they thought they already were — for a moment.
One wonders also what spam and trade practices laws they’ve tripped by sending out an (incorrect) offer to their entire email base, including people who have asked not to receive Virgin Blue frequent flyer emails.
All I can say is: epic fail.
Mumbrella has a great post on this debacle with some interesting debate too: Airline blunder upgrades every passenger