Virgin Atlantic – a lesson in English?

I blogged before about my lost luggage and the blind man in New York last month.

When I got back from the USA I sent of the receipts for some emergency stuff to Virgin with a fairly short letter suggesting they reimburse me without too much fuss. After all it wasn’t my fault – or was it?

This week I have received a cheque (thank you Mr Branson) but with it a letter which I have read and re-read to try and understand. I have decided that I don’t get it. I wonder if you could help me… I transcribe part of the letter exactly as it was written…

It’s my understanding that you have been informed the passenger who had your bag was visually impaired an therefore an operative assisted them with collecting their baggage, however they collected your bag in error on their behalf.

Taking this into account, I also searched for the report that would have been created when the other passenger’s bag was left behind, and Im afraid there is no mention of any assistance on their report.

Therefore I should explain that usually this is something we would not offer any reimbursement for.

We have however eager to finalise this matter for you, and as a gesture of goodwill, I am happy on this occasion to enclose a cheque for £x to cover the cost of expenses incurred whilst you were without your baggage.

I think I follow. It wasn’t really their fault because the blind man didn’t really lose his bag because he didn’t report it. And eager to finalise me, they’ll send me a cheque.

I don’t really care; I have been reimbursed. But the letter is gobbledygook. Why can’t they just say – yes it was our fault and here’s your money back. We’re really sorry.

Do I sound old by suggesting that English standards have dropped? I must qualify for the grumpy old man award of the day?

The Branson Pickle

As you might have gathered I have been having fun in trying to re-connect with my luggage in New York. Finally the bag I entrusted to a nice girl at Heathrow has been delivered to my hotel in New York, it took 36 hours. It arrived in the middle of last night.

The Blind Man sent the bag back to the airport and Virgin then had it shipped to the Hotel. It was the least they could do. I did note Mr Branson that you had it delivered by the ‘regular’ service as opposed to the ‘rush’ option the delivery company offer.

Virgin Atlantic are an organisation who pride themselves on excellent customer service. Well, on their performance over the first 36 hours of my holiday were woeful. A few issues:

1. A member of their staff picking my bag up for the blind man in the first place – a good idea to check? He was blind after all.
2. My having to suggest that there had been a swap as the blind mans bag was similar and still on the carousel?
3. Giving me a USA number to call to get an update which didn’t work. It was unobtainable.
4. A warning that I should keep my spending to a minimum for emergency stuff only. $50 doesn’t go far when you need 2 x sets of basic clothes and toiletries.
5. That I had to call Virgin three times in the UK to get an update – despite the fact that they promised to keep me posted – they had my mobile and email addresses – but didn’t use either. Ever.
6. They use a delivery company in the USA who they can’t talk to (!) – so although they knew that my bag was with the delivery company they couldn’t tell me where it was / make contact with the company – other than by emailing them!
7. When they did dispatch the bag from JFK they used a ‘regular’ delivery service – within 12 hours when there was a ‘rush’ option.
8. Being unable to find my details on two occasions – despite me having a reference number. Hardly confidence inspiring.

This is one of this occasions when you are completely powerless to do anything. The staff say the right things but didn’t do anything pro-active.This is a very short break, spending the first 36 hours wondering what to – especially if the case didn’t turn up? At what point do you go out and start replacing some of the things in there…

One very unimpressed Virgin customer. Back to BA next time I think.

You couldn’t make it up….

There were some omens in place before this trip to New York. Like I couldn’t book the seats on-line or do an on-line check in. I should have known really.

The M1 was shut at Milton Keynes so we skipped around the M40. We were still on-time. Parking at Purple Parking was easy and friendly. Check-in was remarkably smooth.

The trouble struck. Apparently Heathrow was ‘busy’ and they swapped the runways round – this cost us an hour on the tarmac.

But the real fun started when we picked our bag up. Or rather didn’t pick our bag up – because it wasn’t there. After a bit of detective work we established that someone had left a similar bag spinning on the carousel and wandered off with ours. To make matters worse the person is ‘visually impaired’ and so had some help. Presumably she just pointed at a blue bag and that was that – my bag with someone else.

I would have thought the ‘helper’ might have just checked the name tag?

Alas not. So the first night in New York is without any toiletries or clothes. I do have a laptop and kindle, but have found these to be poor substitutes for the likes of toothbrushes and deodorant?

I shall blog ‘properly’ soon…