Essential Retail’s digital features editor, Caroline Baldwin, shares her pleasant refund surprise from Virgin Trains.
I’m a big fan of the TrainLine, its app and Apple payment capabilities, but a month or so ago when I was planning a visit to my mother in Wales and desperately searching for any train that was going to cost me less than the standard £90 off-peak fare, I received a 20% off email if I booked direct with Virgin Trains.
No brainer really. Combining that with a day’s holiday to return to London on a Monday rather than a weekend I got a pretty cheap train for around £40.
Early December arrives and I head to the station after work on a Friday to catch my train and the dreaded message illuminates the departures board at Euston: “Train cancelled due to a fatality on the line”.
It’s always sad to hear news of a fatality on the railways and thoughts are immediately with the families involved, but in terms of the expected travel chaos ahead you can’t help also feeling: “Here we go again.”
Luckily, I managed to get a train closer to my destination and jump on a connection miraculously meant I was only ten minutes late into Wales. Let’s just say I’ve had much worse journeys to/from the motherland, including one where my suitcase and I were squashed into a space the size of a postage stamp next to the train toilets for over three hours.
So imagine my surprise when a couple of days later I received an email with the subject line: “You’re due compensation for your delay”. Well, that’s quite a friendly email to receive a couple of weeks before Christmas.
Little did I know that Virgin Trains has an Automatic Delay Repay scheme as long as you book your tickets at virgintrains.com. The email said: “You don’t need to lift a finger and we’ll credit it back to the card you paid with.” And I did indeed receive a full refund for that leg of the journey the next day.
According to its website, Virgin Trains is the only company to refund customers when they’re delayed for 30 minutes or more. And even if you didn’t purchase your ticket via Virgin Trains, you can process a claim on its website.
Considering processing a claim is a rather laborious task which doesn’t often yield any financial results, having my ticket automatically refunded into my account was great customer service. But it does make me wonder how much Virgin Trains is losing out compared to other companies, because surely not everyone could be bothered to make a claim? I never bothered for the delayed, sat-on-the-floor-next-to-the-toilets, nightmare journey.
But if you’re reading this Virgin Trains, please don’t stop this service – you’ve got a new customer who will be booking direct with you forever more.