Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Virgin; you get what you pay for

Virgin seem to have as their business motto, "You get what you pay for".

Put it this way.

I travelled from Carlisle to London and back yesterday on a Virgin Pendolino train. (That's the new whizzy high-speed tilting train.)

According to the on-train info posters, of the nine passenger carriages of a Pendolino, four are first class.

That means only five for standard class.

So although standard class on a Virgin train is actually quite comfortable (decent seating, not too squashed, plenty of tables, not too few loos), by the time a train's worth of standard class passengers have squeezed into five carriages, it's less comfortable, and heaven help you if you haven't booked a seat. (I had.)

That says to me that Virgin are trying to encourage me to pay a bit more and buy a first class ticket next time I need to travel on a Pendolino.

And as that would get me some rather nice extras at no additional cost, like food and drink, WiFi, a newspaper, and a wider seat, I'm seriously tempted.

Duane Jackson's blog
tells how he had to pay a lot more for Virgin to move his broadband than for BT - but with Virgin, he spoke to a human straight away and the arrangements were made within 5 minutes instead of 45.

Both these stories say to me that Virgin aren't looking for lots of cheap sales, otherwise they'd a) only have one first class carriage on a Pendolino, and b) use a push-button telephone system (yuck). They want fewer, more expensive sales, and they get them by boosting customer service.

Just a pity that Virgin had to take a lot longer to move Duane's broadband than BT do. That spoils their customer service a bit :-)

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