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Forums Frequent flyer programs Virgin Flying Club Help needed! Virgin Atlantic suspended my account for fraud without explanations

  • zotikus 18 posts

    Hello everyone, my recent encounters with VS Flying Club were really irritating and frustrating, I need your help and insights:

    Recently, my account was suspended unilaterally without any notice or clear explanation, and my flights booked with points were canceled. I have contacted their customer care firstly and they asked me to write to the Loyalty Fraud Team. Then this team replied: 
    —-
    Your account has been suspended following recent investigations by our fraud protection team. 
    We believe that your account has been used for fraudulent activity and has therefore breached our Flying Club Terms and Conditions which state:
    9. Ownership of Virgin Points and Fraud

    In light of the above, we will be unable to reinstate your Flying Club account.
    —-

    I am living in Germany and new to VS, and my activities are really simple, I don’t see anything wrong:
    – last year I registered VS flying club, and earned some points flying Air Europa
    – last month I bought points (paid 1100 GBP) through their official ‘Buy Points’ channel
    – last week I redeemed flight with points for me and my partner from Germany to France and back, for our holiday during the upcoming Olympics. (Their website showed error when I tried to book the flights, so I called US hotline to issue the tickets. To go is by KLM, back by AF, both ways Business class, as Economy was sold out. I booked two legs separately, but me and my partner in the same reservation. I paid with my credit card, which is issued in my home country, not Germany.)

    So I wrote back asking why are there fraud activities under my account, they wrote back in a very arbitrary and arrogant way, not even trying to conduct further investigation or queries:
    —-
    Unfortunately, owing to the enhance review conducted with our fraud systems we will not be reinstating your account, nor could we reply on any further correspondence on this case.

    Kind Regards,
    Loyalty Fraud Team
    —-

    Here I got really frustrated, as the fraud team obviously didn’t care much and shut down the communication. So I searched a bit online for solutions, and found an email (Executive.office@fly.virgin.com) to their management team, and I wrote them with the points:
    – The fraud detecting system is making a mistake, I don’t see any fraud activities under my account
    – It is not acceptable accuse someone ‘Fraud’ without giving proper explanations or evidence, and not conducting any investigation or queries, and then taking away their purchased points just like that
    – The team gave the customer a quite frustrating humiliating experience with their arrogant and arbitrary actions.

    That email address didn’t write me back, but I got an email with Feedback Ref #. Today I received reply from the Customer Care team:
    —-
    Unfortunately, we are not able to override the loyalty team’s decision and are not able to comment any further on your account.
    I’m sorry I’m not able to assist further this time, however, I can assure you that your concerns will be fed back to each relevant team.
    —-

    Now I am really desperate, I don’t know what I can do or who else I can contact to solve this issue. Any suggestions? And, what do you think could be the problem as ‘fraud activities’?

    If anyone in the community has experienced a similar situation or has insights into the resolution process, I would greatly appreciate your guidance. Thank you in advance!

    Froggee 947 posts

    https://www.headforpoints.com/forums/topic/virgin-flying-club-account-cancelled/

    Sorry to hear this. I have no clue but read the above thread. I suspect that there may be issues with the various addresses you have (home country vs Germany).

    Good luck.

    PeteM 724 posts

    Delete, @Froggee posted the link to the thread I was posting too.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,169 posts

    Here is another example

    https://www.headforpoints.com/forums/topic/flying-club-account-is-suspended/

    But the OP there was less than forthcoming in their original post.

    OP what is it that you’re not telling us?

    JDB 4,515 posts

    @zotikus – if you have already escalated the matter to the Executive Office, I fear there is little more you can do. You might wish to consider first a chargeback, then s75 for the purchased points if that is a possibility in the jurisdiction where you made the purchase which sounds like it might have been the UK, although it may be tricky if Virgin uses an intermediary to effect the transaction and they are your counterparty rather than Virgin themselves.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,169 posts

    I don’t think a chargeback or s75 claim would work.

    VS would point out that the points reached @zoitcus account but anyway the transaction was provided by points.com who would say the same.

    The test is “did you get what you paid for?” And the answer to that is “yes” because our OP used those points on a redemption.

    Lady London 2,112 posts

    I think I would write back reminding them of the cost of the points you paid for and requesting a refund. This cannot be fair.

    I am wondering are not Virgin cardholders taking the UK card supposed to be UK resident? Credit cards seem to work that way with very few exceptions.

    If you are UK resident I am wondering can a complaint be made, say, to FOS or regulator.

    TGLoyalty 574 posts

    @LL doesn’t say anywhere they had a virgin credit card. Simply that they opened a flying club account and later bought points.

    I’d do a chargeback via your credit card.

    JDB 4,515 posts

    I think I would write back reminding them of the cost of the points you paid for and requesting a refund. This cannot be fair.

    If you are UK resident I am wondering can a complaint be made, say, to FOS or regulator.

    Virgin Atlantic isn’t directly subject to any regulatory scrutiny or the FOS for these purposes which is why I suggested a chargeback followed if necessary by s75 because the credit card provider is jointly and severally liable for the practical failure to deliver the service of purchasing points.

    There are obstacles – both the intermediation of points.com but I think that’s easy enough to overcome and the fact the OP may have redeemed (but not used) some or all of the purchased points, again addressable. This addresses at least £1100 but when there appears to be nothing further to be done with Virgin, the credit card provides a back door way to the FOS if they won’t play ball. The FOS can, and will, look at the whole purchase and outcome which could not be considered fair if the OP has done nothing untoward.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,169 posts

    But the OP got the points!

    And they used them to a redemption.

    s75 isn’t going to work!

    TGLoyalty 574 posts

    But the OP got the points!

    And they used them to a redemption.

    s75 isn’t going to work!

    Couldn’t have used them all on return flights from Germany to France and are they even still ticketed as the Olympics isn’t until the summer.

    zotikus 18 posts

    Hi @Froggee @PeteM, thanks for the reply. Yes, I have read this thread and there I found the execute team email address. But this OP’s encounter with VS team seems better, as they keep on communicating with him, asking for further supporting documents. In my case, they just simply said no comment or reply. That’s really a show stopper..

    About the various addresses, they didn’t ask about my credit card bill address on the phone when issuing the tickets. Even they are different, isn’t it normal people living in different addresses nowadays? But a reminder from FT suggests that my Chinese credit card might raise a big red flag in their system. This issue is even more difficult to address 🙁

    zotikus 18 posts

    I think I would write back reminding them of the cost of the points you paid for and requesting a refund. This cannot be fair.

    I am wondering are not Virgin cardholders taking the UK card supposed to be UK resident? Credit cards seem to work that way with very few exceptions.

    If you are UK resident I am wondering can a complaint be made, say, to FOS or regulator.

    Hi thanks for the input. I have Chinese passport and living in Germany. When it comes to legal, I guess I need to check the UK laws?

    zotikus 18 posts

    @JDB @BA Flyer IHG Stayer @TGLoyalty thanks for the input. I will contact my bank, but it is a Chinese Mastercard, do you think it will work with s75 or FOS? First time to know those 2 terms :O

    Froggee 947 posts

    This sounds awful @zotikus.

    It sounds like your Chinese-ness has triggered some sort of fraud overreaction.

    Apparently there is more of an issue with mileage broking etc in Asia. But the last time I checked there are quite a lot of ethnic Chinese in this world and most don’t do that sort of thing!

    I think the best thing you can do for now would be to write a factual email highlighting your various jurisdictions and how you suspect this might have caused the problem. It may be they think they are geniuses working out you are Chinese but booking from Germany. I don’t suppose you go by a western name as well as a Chinese one as that could also confuse. 90% of westerners can’t even identify a Chinese family name given the order being different.

    I would emphasise that the only redemption you have made for anybody else is for your partner and you are also travelling on this booking.

    Be factual, be open and pray to the mileage gods.

    If they don’t respond nicely then I would be sorely tempted to then get nasty and conduct a data subject access request (you can ask about that later) and perhaps ask if the reason they have banned you is your ethnicity as that would be illegal. But it does sound like you have been profiled.

    Mouse 179 posts

    What would happen if this were taken to small claims court? Wouldn’t Virgin be required to prove that the customer had engaged in fraud in order to justify the confiscation of the points under the Ts&Cs? And so wouldn’t the threat of this then possibly result in a suitably qualified and interested human at Virgin reviewing the case properly and potentially changing the outcome?

    JDB 4,515 posts

    @JDB @BA Flyer IHG Stayer @TGLoyalty thanks for the input. I will contact my bank, but it is a Chinese Mastercard, do you think it will work with s75 or FOS? First time to know those 2 terms :O

    No, unfortunately you won’t have s75 protection, nor be able to go to the FOS if the payment was with a Chinese MC.

    JDB 4,515 posts

    What would happen if this were taken to small claims court? Wouldn’t Virgin be required to prove that the customer had engaged in fraud in order to justify the confiscation of the points under the Ts&Cs? And so wouldn’t the threat of this then possibly result in a suitably qualified and interested human at Virgin reviewing the case properly and potentially changing the outcome?

    Even if the payment hadn’t been made with a Chinese Mastercard, it might be difficult to keep such a claim on the small claims track.

    Mouse 179 posts

    Even if the payment hadn’t been made with a Chinese Mastercard, it might be difficult to keep such a claim on the small claims track.

    If redress is so difficult for customers to obtain, Virgin’s trigger happy approach starts to look more like a cynical money-making scheme than a genuine effort to counter fraud.

    JDB 4,515 posts

    Even if the payment hadn’t been made with a Chinese Mastercard, it might be difficult to keep such a claim on the small claims track.

    If redress is so difficult for customers to obtain, Virgin’s trigger happy approach starts to look more like a cynical money-making scheme than a genuine effort to counter fraud.

    If you were using a UK credit card, you would have better prospects of getting redress, assuming everything was above board. As the card provider is jointly and severally liable for at least the effect Virgin’s actions and strictly regulated, the cardco might wriggle a lot to avoid liability, but you can at least force an independent review eg FOS.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,169 posts

    thanks for the input. I will contact my bank, but it is a Chinese Mastercard, do you think it will work with s75 or FOS? First time to know those 2 terms :O

    This is the sort of vital info you should have included right from the start!

    It would have stopped any s75 discussion in its tracks because as @JDB says it doesn’t apply.

    Is there anything else you’re not telling is that may be of relevance?

    Mouse 179 posts

    If you were using a UK credit card, you would have better prospects of getting redress, assuming everything was above board. As the card provider is jointly and severally liable for at least the effect Virgin’s actions and strictly regulated, the cardco might wriggle a lot to avoid liability, but you can at least force an independent review eg FOS.

    Exactly – I wonder whether the fraud algorithm has been tuned to pick up cases where the customer has weaker prospects of challenging owing to, e.g., having used a foreign credit card. It would be very cynical but not impossible to believe.

    zotikus 18 posts

    Here is another example

    https://www.headforpoints.com/forums/topic/flying-club-account-is-suspended/

    But the OP there was less than forthcoming in their original post.

    OP what is it that you’re not telling us?

    Hi thanks for sharing this thread, yes, that OP had more redeemed flights. But my account has only the following transactions:
    – registration
    – earned one Air Europa flight’s point
    – bought points from the official way
    – redeemed flights Germany to France for my partner and me
    – redeemed flights France to Germany for my partner and me

    some details on how I booked the tickets, maybe the back and forth could be an issue:
    First I searched on their website for tickets from Germany to France, paid and I got sms from my bank saying payment successful in EUR, then another sms payment canceled. Then I got an error message on VS website, saying reservation not completed, please contact customer service, reservation reference code is xxx. So I called US hotline, they said, the first segment of the trip is KLM codeshare, operated by Germanwings, VS can’t issue the ticket, although you can see it on the system. I can only choose flights by KLM/cityhopper. and AF flights and AF HOP flights has no such problems. So I hang up, discussed with my partner, then called again, issued flights the day before, successful. Then I got one email confirmation, with my name and my partner’s. Then I tried to book flights France to Germany on the website, got a different error saying no flights available, giving me no reservation reference code. I got again 2 sms from the bank confirming and canceling payment, in EUR. So I called again, they could issue the ticket on the phone, but charging me USD this time, and I got 1 payment message. Then I got 2 emails confirming the booking, with my name and my partner’s separately, but I checked it is the same reservation reference code. All looked fine, so I went for dinner. And after dinner I couldn’t log in to my account, I thought it might be their shitty IT system. So I tried the next day, still can’t login. So I chatted online with VS, the agent said he/she refreshed my account, asked me to try again after 72 hours. After 72 hours I still can’t login, so I chatted again, then they asked me to write to Loyalty Fraud team…

    Anything could be wrong during the booking?

    PeteM 724 posts

    Not that I want to stand up for Virgin, but in this case I can see why the fraud alerts would have gone off. A person in Germany, using a Chinese credit card, buying Air France business class tickets from Germany to France and back during one of the busiest times of the year – via a UK airline’s frequent flyer scheme, after they’ve bought most of the points in the first place…?

    I suspect trying to get your Chinese bank to reverse the points purchase may be your best/only solution, @zotikus.

    BBbetter 717 posts

    Not that I want to stand up for Virgin, but in this case I can see why the fraud alerts would have gone off. A person in Germany, using a Chinese credit card, buying Air France business class tickets from Germany to France and back during one of the busiest times of the year – via a UK airline’s frequent flyer scheme, after they’ve bought most of the points in the first place…?

    I suspect trying to get your Chinese bank to reverse the points purchase may be your best/only solution, @zotikus.

    My thoughts are same. Spending on a CNY card when the country is known for capital controls is a bit risky.

    American blogs make it sound easy to enrol and redeem all over the world, but outside US, it’s best to keep things simple.

    Remember reading Alaskan banned some Asian accounts as they bought miles and within a few days booked dozens of flights. It’s also difficult to prove the flights are for family when the last names can be similar for unrelated people.

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