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

  • louie 138 posts

    Seems pretty straightforward and relatable to me. The OP gave £1,100 to Virgin and Virgin said “thanks very much, we’ll give you absolutely nothing in return, nor will we return your money”. The rest is details. Most people would think of that as fraud on the part of Virgin, not the OP.

    JDB 4,649 posts

    Seems pretty straightforward and relatable to me. The OP gave £1,100 to Virgin and Virgin said “thanks very much, we’ll give you absolutely nothing in return, nor will we return your money”. The rest is details. Most people would think of that as fraud on the part of Virgin, not the OP.

    While the end result isn’t too different, this is a civil, contractual dispute rather than a fraud. The story also wasn’t quite as simple as above – the OP bought the points and successfully redeemed some of them for flights which were subsequently cancelled by VS citing contractual breaches on the basis of fraud and while VS returned the fees associated with the redemption, it kept all the points. A dispute that needs to be resolved either by agreement or by the county court therefore arises. I would be amazed if Virgin actually wished to test its terms publicly, so they will ultimately settle, but pinning down these organisations is difficult because it takes time, perseverance and some good drafting to get someone with a modicum of intelligence to analyse the situation.

    dannyc 20 posts




    @dannyc
    , yes travel journalists could open some doors. at least let more people know about VS’ nasty approach and stay away from them. any suggestions where?

    Only if they take up your case. They get who knows how many requests for help and they can’t (or more likly won’t) take up every requsts. Especially complex ones.

    They know which cases an airline will look into for them and those they won’t. They know their readers and what sort of cases they like to read about. They like simple cases that are easily understood and where the outcome is also easily understood by the average reader.

    Your case isn’t simple. It involves a Chinese credit card being used in Germany to buy points via a Canadian head quartered company for a UK based airline to buy flights on a European airline. And then you toss in some anti Chinesse accusations into the mix

    How is that remotly relatable / repeatable for most readers of travel sites / newspaper travel section?

    It isn’t that complicated. The OP bought points, redeemed points for flight and then Virgin closed the account without any compensation and before the flights were taken.

    The journalist goes with the angle that Virgin points are worthless purchases since Virgin has closed accounts at no notice and with no compensation.

    OP try Simon Calder and the Guardian and also message Ben at One Mile at a Time.

    louie 138 posts

    @JDB – my point was really in response to @BAFlyerIHGStayer’s comment that this is too complex to interest the media. In principle, I disagree, as I think that almost almost anyone looking at the situation from afar would think the OP had been wronged by Virgin, regardless of the legal niceties.

    zotikus 20 posts

    Hey guys, thanks so much for further input. It really gave me great support to persist on this. I was traveling the last few days, and didn’t want to ruin my holiday mood dealing with VS. Now I am back and just wrote to fraud team, giving them the documents asking for a investigation/audit/appeal. I don’t put much hope on them, but let’s see.

    @BA Flyer IHG Stayer, the story can be simple: VS made accusation and took away purchased points without explanation, is that fair and legitimate? Regarding if it is because of my Chinese card/identity, that’s only VS’s fraud detecting system’s settings, many other airlines don’t do this. As about ‘How is that remotly relatable / repeatable for most readers’, that’s a really good question, and I hope the journalists can/are willing to find a way to make it work.


    @louie
    , indeed, I hope all the readers can have the same feeling, it is ‘fraud on the part of Virgin’


    @JDB
    , you think they are testing the terms? Any lawsuit cases before regarding such terms regarding the airline can just take the points away? I am afraid those big airlines are already shield up by their legal department.


    @dannyc
    , thanks a lot for those names!

    zotikus 20 posts

    Hey guys, great news! After I send the email again with docs as proof, I got their reply this morning:

    ====
    We have reactivated your account and refunded the points.

    Please accept our true apologies for the inconvenience caused to you and thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

    Kindest regards,

    Loyalty Fraud Team
    Virgin Atlantic
    ====

    I can login to my account and all the points are there. but my booked flights are all gone and there are no traces I even booked them. I replied asking what triggered the false alarm and will avoid it. Also try to recover my flights, one requires double of the points now.

    strickers 723 posts

    Great news.

    Froggee 987 posts

    I am quite pleased @zotikus but not very pleased given you have lost the flights that you booked.

    Have you replied thanking them ever so much? And next paragraph, ask if it might be possible for them to assist with reinstating the flights you had booked given the significant increase in points cost now?

    I imagine they will say that they cannot help as this is Customer Services, not fraud. There will then be nothing Virgin Customer Services can do as this is “partner reward pricing”. You could then suggest a goodwill gesture equivalent to the increase in Virgin points so that you are left in a position as you were before the block.

    At this point being super, super nice is the best strategy. They will easily be able to hide behind terms and conditions so be likeable and make them want to help you. Lots of thank yous and pleases!

    It may be worth also emailing the executive team (again) if customer services cannot help. Thank them for their previous help (!) and explain the new problem as a result of the unfortunate fraud triggers.

    Good luck!

    can2 575 posts

    Well done. And @Froggee is right. Don’t celebrate just yet. They created a nonexisting problem themselves. And they caused you a loss. They must fix it.

    AJA 1,127 posts

    I am pleased that you have an active account again with your points refunded but as others have said you have now suffered significant financial loss since the flights you bought are now much more expensive.

    I also think Virgin should reinstate the booking with them paying the difference in cost. But as others have said whether you can get them to do this is another question.

    NorthernLass 8,267 posts

    I would think there would be a further contractual element here. You booked flights with Virgin, and Virgin cancelled them. I would want to know the exact reason for the cancellation, and if it isn’t covered by the Ts and Cs, and VS can’t provide justification for the cancellation, I’m sure you would have legal recourse to make VS replace or reinstate them.

    can2 575 posts

    Did somebody say MCOL? My favourite abbreviation!

    They owe you not just the flight but also the time.

    Lady London 2,141 posts

    Please go for it, and keep us informed.

    Oh, and don’t irritate them by asking what triggered the fraud alert as they simply won’t tell you. Although posters here have pretty much given you the list :-).

    Just be nice as Froggee and others say and request their assistance to get your flights reinstated given the unfortunate position you now find yourself in as the price has sadly changed very much meanwhile. Grovel, creep… keep the knife and any pointed questions or remarks inside for now.

    Good luck, let us know.

    JDB 4,649 posts

    Did somebody say MCOL? My favourite abbreviation!

    They owe you not just the flight but also the time.

    MCOL can’t award you for the time. The only costs you will realistically get back are the court fees.

    Getting the flights reinstated is the much more difficult part to enforce via the courts and VS will be reluctant to help as they need to pay out to a partner airline, but being nice probably is the best chance.

    can2 575 posts

    Well, we got it many times as part of costs — preparation for the court case etc..
    Granted, not in the context of air travel.

    Did somebody say MCOL? My favourite abbreviation!

    They owe you not just the flight but also the time.

    MCOL can’t award you for the time. The only costs you will realistically get back are the court fees.

    Getting the flights reinstated is the much more difficult part to enforce via the courts and VS will be reluctant to help as they need to pay out to a partner airline, but being nice probably is the best chance.

    JDB 4,649 posts

    @can2 – see CPR 27.14 re costs on the the small claims track. Beyond the court fees, witness/claimant travel fees/lost earnings and a few very tightly limited exceptions, you don’t get costs unless the other party has behaved unreasonably (and the bar is high) and that’s only from the time of issue. Even if such costs were assessed, you would be lucky to get £20/hour for your time. On the other hand if you behave unreasonably vs a company, their costs of solicitor and counsel might be quite substantial.

    can2 575 posts

    I know, that’s why I don’t lose.

    @can2 – see CPR 27.14 re costs on the the small claims track. Beyond the court fees, witness/claimant travel fees/lost earnings and a few very tightly limited exceptions, you don’t get costs unless the other party has behaved unreasonably (and the bar is high) and that’s only from the time of issue. Even if such costs were assessed, you would be lucky to get £20/hour for your time. On the other hand if you behave unreasonably vs a company, their costs of solicitor and counsel might be quite substantial.

    zotikus 20 posts

    Thank you all for the support! It was a big relief not only I got my account and points back, but also I clarified my innocence. I felt bullied and humiliated when the fraud team rejected me in a harsh and arrogant way at first time. I was suffering, deeply frustrated and depressed for 2 weeks. So the support/insights from you guys really helped!

    Now I am not relying on reinstating those VS flights, as I didn’t expect to get the points back soon so I booked other airlines to continue our trip. It is not much more expensive, cos I booked economy class. It is ok, at least I won’t get desperate again by VS. I used United points for the flight back, which I can still cancel for free (amazing program!). So I am continuing to communicate with VS, to test their basic lines in such unfortunate matter, also as a reference for others in the future.


    @Froggee
    , thanks for the wording suggestions. I did thank the fraud team for the investigation, although I still think they should have done it in the first place. And writing to executive team again is indeed a good idea. Also, it made me think that could it be the reason why the fraud team was harsh and arrogant at first time, that I was not being nice writing to them? I was not rude but straight forward. what do you think the following?
    ===
    Hello,

    I found I can’t login to my account several days ago, and just chatted with the help team online again. They suggested that I email here to get more information. So can you please let me know what happened? My club number: xxxx. THanks.

    Regards,
    xxxx
    ====
    Hi,

    I don’t understand why your team find fraud activities under my account. It is not acceptable your team just suspended my account without giving any reasons or proof. Please clarify. Thanks.
    ====

    It might be a culture difference, as in Asia(mostly east and southeast Asia), the airlines/service provider are more friendly, reasonable and attentive to customers’ experience and feelings. They would be very careful accusing someone a fraud.


    @can2
    @AJA, I suggested 3 options for them:
    1. reactivate the exact canceled reservation (which I think not doable)
    2. make a new reservation with original amount points (but I just checked there is only 1 seat left, no idea if they can ask AF to release another one)
    3. make a new reservation with current amount points, then give me back the difference. (here only 1 seat left is still a problem, I might change my flight plan and it would be more complicated to argue with VS)


    @NorthernLass
    , yes it is indeed that VS broke the contract. But I am afraid going for the legal recourse will be difficult for me. Never gone that far before.


    @Lady
    London, I have already asked and they probably won’t say it clearly. I need to make sure it won’t happen to me in the future. So far what I can do is only not to use my Chinese credit card again. I have to travel with my partner in the future, hope this is not the trigger.


    @JDB
    @can2, seems you guys are familiar with legal. If it was in Germany or EU, it would be easier for me. But anyway it might be too complicated for me 🙁

    Froggee 987 posts

    @zotikus the fraud team is the fraud team. They do what fraud teams do. Which does not include anything resembling customer service.

    I doubt your emails will have made much difference to their attitude as quite simply they won’t care. Your persistence will have helped as genuine fraudsters tend to give up quite quickly!

    It is fairly common that people appear on here (and Flyertalk) having had their frequent flyer accounts closed or suspended. Generally they start off being angry and over a few posts it becomes clear that they did do something wrong. This is what the fraud team deals with on a daily basis. They therefore act accordingly when dealing with people.

    Yes, customer service is so much better in Asia than it is in Europe. There are a variety of reasons for this but I am a big fan of saying “cultural differences” and leaving it at that.

    The reason you got a decent amount of support on here was because your story was consistent and made sense.

    I can understand how you will have felt bullied and humiliated, particularly given the likely trigger for the fraud investigation will have involved the Chinese credit card. It is an unusual pattern of behavior which is much, much more likely to be fraudulent. And Virgin’s response was targeted accordingly and that never feels nice. I am sorry.

    Anyway. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever had in my life is…

    Before having an discussion, negotiation, argument, disagreement etc ask yourself “what do I want to get out of this situation?”

    The second best piece of advice I have ever had in life is “if you cannot change it, then accept it”.

    The fraud team will not apologise. If you have replaced the flights without too much loss then it might be best for you to accept that Virgin Atlantic could have handled this better but they didn’t and be the bigger person.

    If you cannot let it go then try and make it easy for Virgin to make you happy. Sure, suggest that they reinstate the flights. If they cannot then what would make you happy? They will not give you cash but might give you some points.

    But sometimes life is too short.

    I hope you enjoy the Olympics.

    NorthernLass 8,267 posts

    I’m reading this as OP got their previous points balance back but has still lost whatever they spent in points and cash on the flights? In which case it’s quite a lot to give up?

    Froggee 987 posts

    OP already said the cash spent on flights was refunded and all the points are back.

    So it’s really a case of how much more energy to put into this. If he/she hadn’t managed to book alternative flights for not too much more then obviously keep fighting and it’s obviously OP’s call but life is short!

    NorthernLass 8,267 posts

    Ah right, I missed that! Yes that’s an outcome worth settling for.

    zotikus 20 posts

    @Froggee thanks for your advices and all the supporting effort, much appreciated! I am not giving up easily yet to get that flight reinstated, but also not planning to push too hard on it. Dealing with VS is really not pleasant so far and it doesn’t worth it to get involved in a big fuss with them again.


    @NorthernLass
    , I got the points from those flight back. Or precisely, they reactivate my account status to the date I bought the points. So in the account activities, I don’t see I redeemed points, or get them back.

    bman4833 11 posts

    @zotikus I was searching the internet and came across your thread. I am dealing with a similar situation. I transferred my points to VA during Bilt rewards transfer bonus and used the points to book a flights from US to Rome and Paris back to the US. Midway through my trip I see my flights have been removed from AirFrance so I contacted VA and was told to email the fraud department. I get the same generic response as you that I illegally obtained my points and they won’t reactivate my account. I am now stuck in Europe with no way to get home. It is frustrating and the last email I received was to bring on the legal team and to contact BBB and won’t reactivate because they can’t verify my account.

    Lady London 2,141 posts

    @zotikus No I wouldn’t leave it like that with Virgin.

    You paid cash for enough points for specific flights. Their arrangements for providing you those points, are not your problem ie you bought from Virgin, not your fault if they supplied using someone else.

    You didn’t get those flights you bought the points for and meantime, in an action Virgin has since correctly retracted, you lost those flights. In order to secure equivalent flights and considering what Virgin made you suffer, you have meanwhile used United miles to book something else. Good move btw, as I gather the United program is about to be gutted again.

    You got the points you purchased back and the cash co-pay back for the lost flights.

    I definitely wouldn’t stop here. I would absolutely insist Virgin unwinds the transaction where you purchased those points and gives you your money back for that. Virgin’s problems in doing this because they choose to outsource provision of the points to people who bought them from Virgin, is not your concern.

    I would absolutely insist on them unwinding that points purchase transaction now, taking the points back and refunding your purchase price in full.

    Who wants to receive points back when thanks to their actions, now retracted, the original and only purpose you bought them for was denied ypu by their actions? The points also given time passed due their actions are no longer enough too. And lastly at this point it would be quite natural to feel or state their actions mean you have no desire to use those points for anything else via Virgin so to complete this matter you require the reversal of the points purchase.

    No I wouldn’t lie down like a dog and ask for my tummy to be tickled on this. The job’s not completed yet by Virgin. Insist on this.

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