Marketing Mix: We'll call you - Virgin trains

We asked Virgin Trains why we were made to feel less than relieved by the end of our journey.

Virgin Trains Customer relations, how can I help you?

Mktg Have you got a design fault with your toilets? I've had a few appalling experiences where there have been only one or two toilets working on the whole train. There have been kids wetting themselves in the aisles.

Virgin Trains We've had a few problems with the in-built safety systems and water pressure. We've got about 30 trains with that problem.

It's not just a case of getting screws and spanners out to fix it, because it's all done by software and needs to be repaired by laptop. We are in the process of doing that now ahead of 27 September, when we start running the high-speed trains. The problem has been compounded by the fact that we have also been trying to get the trains ready for the high-speed tracks.

Mktg Are you going to be offering compensation?

Virgin Trains Yes. Do you still have your tickets from your journey?

Mktg Yes.

Virgin Trains I'll post you the claim form. Write the details of your journey on it. We're sorry to hear about your experience. We'll get that form out to you today.

Mktg What sort of compensation am I going to be entitled to?

Virgin Trains We'll be able to give you an idea once we have had your form back.

Mktg The train manager said the problem wasn't a design fault. He said it was because you use airline-style loos, which have to be emptied frequently. So why wasn't that done?

Virgin Trains That's not the case. We've had problems with air conditioning and toilets, both due to software issues.

Mktg I was going to mention the air conditioning.

Virgin Trains It's either too cold or too warm at the moment.

Mktg Are you reducing the fares as a result of all these problems?

Virgin Trains No. Sorry.

Mktg I think I'll be using my car next time.

VERDICT

The fact that the call handler admitted there was a design fault caught me off guard: I was expecting to have to launch into a description of the full horror of the journey.

Instead, he immediately offered an application form for compensation.

Honesty is the best policy, but it did leave me wondering whether the Virgin brand is suited to train services, given the constant glitches.

Toilet trouble is the latest in a long list of issues affecting Virgin services.

Score 7/10.

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