Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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  • @bman4833 so sorry to hear it is still not working, but don’t lose hope. From my experience:
    1) no other team has the right to decide other than loyalty fraud team, after all you have to confront with them. so keep on writing to them insisting you are innocent and request a ‘investigation/appeal’. Their standard replies could be their trick, also could mean your docs are not covering their red flag point
    2) the fraud team won’t tell you why (they don’t want to reveal the secret of their lame system), so you really need to dig deeper and guess what could be wrong. ANYTHING mismatch with your profile? name, address, nationality, payment country, telephone, etc.. anything not complying to their T&C on the credit card points transfer?
    3) their senior customer care staff might have experience on the fraud drama, if you could somehow get on a call with them, they might give you some unofficial hint.

    Yes I am ok to put it an closure now. One last thing I want to do is to put all the process/emails together and send to the executive team, hoping they can do something to make improvement in the future. It was such a painful procedure that no one wants to experience or should. And I could book Paris hotel with my Marriott points luckily, so expensive during that time! hope they have good Champagne in the CDG lounge 😉

    Hey guys, more update here:
    after I wrote back, I got a call from Customer care. This time, a more experienced staff handled this case. He offered several flights options (strange this time there were reward seats available compared to last time I called them). So I could book a new reward flight, with a stopover in Paris over night (I like to spend some time in Paris though). The total amount of points and cash is more than what I booked before, but they will cover the difference. And as I mentioned the hotel in Paris during the Olympic time is quite expensive, they offered me 100 eur cash transfer as a good will. So I am relieved that I could get my flights back, it is an acceptable solution. At last, they deducted the 8000 points back, which means there is no compensation for all the trouble.. Do you think if I still should go for that?

    Hey guys, some updated here:
    1. As we expected, the fraud team didn’t reply me at all about my question ‘what triggered the false alarm and how I/VS can avoid such situation again’.
    2. My canceled flight can’t be reinstated, and since there is no more reward seats any more for the flight I planned, I can’t make a new booking with VS anymore.
    3. the customer care team replied but avoided my flight replacement issue:
    We do take the security of our customers regards the Flying Club accounts very seriously and your account had been suspended while the team were investigated this. I understand the account was out of use and I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by this.

    As a gesture of goodwill, I have credited 8,000 Virgin Points into your Flying Club account. I know this will not rectify what has happened, but I do hope it goes to show you how sorry I really am and value you as a customer.

    I realise that we cannot undo your experience this time, however we can listen, and I do hope that you are reassured of our commitment to great service and care.

    So I wrote them back making it clear that as there is no AF reward ticket, the cash price is now 1000eur for two, and if I book with UA, it will be 60k points for two. Let’s see how they react.

    @Lady London, I am still communicating with VS. My goals are:
    1. bottom line: get my justice back, reactive my account and points. [done]
    2. try to achieve: reinstate my canceled flights. [ongoing communicating]
    3. dispensable: compensation for my time and trouble. up to VS
    Last month’s struggle was really painful, and I see clearly VS is not a decent company. I don’t wanna waste too much energy on them, and I don’t know how. But I truly hope this shady company can be somehow punished for their nasty moves to the customers

    @bman4833, I am so sorry you are having troubles with VS too. It was really a frustrating journey with them. I do hope you are strong facing all those and get what is right for you. It’s much more desperate for you as you are already in the middle of the journey, that’s horrible! You need to move fast or make a plan B for your trip. From my experience, the customer service and executive team really can’t override the decisions, so I would suggest you to write to the fraud team again(maybe start a new thread, that might give you a new case number), asking for an investigation/appeal, with all the documents/proof/explanations you can think of, to save some time. I am not familiar with your point purchase channel, but it sounds legitimate. I don’t know why they brought it to the legal side so fast, I believe that would be very difficult for us individual customers to go on that path, at least for me. Good luck and keep us updated!

    @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.

    , 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.

    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.

    , 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?

    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.


    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.

    @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)

    , 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.

    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.

    @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 🙁

    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.

    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.

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

    , 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.

    , thanks a lot for those names!

    @Froggee, I will write to require a refund. And also let them know if it doesn’t work within VS, I have no other choices but going legal and expose it to the public media. Hope this can give them a little pressure.

    , 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?

    , thank you so much for the wording, it sounds so powerful and professional. Language is also a disadvantage for me. I am ready to get some legal support for this case if it comes to that point.

    , I have never traveled with VS, and this account is also my first. There could be someone with the same name, but my email and post address cannot be the same.

    @Guernsey Globetrotter, thanks for the insights. the customer service team and executive office both said they are unable to override loyalty fraud team’s decision, which I understand as they don’t have the right to do so. it seems the Fraud team is quite independent, but I still think there should be some team to do upper level audit or appeal. I will ask executive office if they are aware of any.

    And thank all of you for the support, it is quite frustrating and painful to fight with VS, but I will keep on trying

    Hey guys, some update here, it didn’t work with the executive team 🙁 they replied after my email:
    I have liaised with our fraud team to see if there was anything further we could do to assist however, unfortunately we are unable to override the decision made.

    I am truly sorry there isn’t anything further we can do to help and should you have any further questions this would need to be raised with our loyalty fraud team directly.

    I sent all I can think of, with your guys’ suggestions:
    I want to attach some documents/information that could be useful for the investigation:

    1. I am the legitimate owner of the credit card paid for the tickets. Please see attachment 1 for the screenshot of my account transaction details. I have been living in Germany for 3 years (attachment 2: my residence permit) and I am holding a Chinese passport(attachment 3: my passport), so I am still using my Chinese credit card.

    2. I used points only for my partner and me. Please see attachment 4&5: my marriage visa with my partner’s name on it and his German ID, attachment 6&7: the flights with him I booked with United airline in the future and past.

    3. The account is registered and used by me and only. I bought points through your official channel ‘buy points’, please see the attachment 8 of my credit card transaction for the purchase.

    4. I personally issued the flight for me and my partner, Nuremberg to Nice, and Marseille to Nuremberg, no others. I first tried to use the website, but it didn’t work. So I called the US hotline by Skype, and it probably shows a virtual Chinese caller number. Please see the attachment 9: my Skype call history, attachment 10-12: booking confirmations.

    5. My account has only the following transactions. If there is any other than those, it is not by me, and my account could be hacked.
    – registration
    – earned one Air Europa flight’s point
    – bought points from the official way
    – redeemed flights Nuremberg to Nice for my partner and me
    – redeemed flights Marseille to Nuremberg for my partner and me

    Now it seems I cannot get my account back. I will write to them to see if I can get refund for my purchased points, which I think is even less possible happening. Ah, I am feeling being robbed T.T

    Hey guys, 2 new findings:

    1. as per @Froggee suggested, I went through my credit card statement. I can see my payment of 106EUR and 136USD were successfully booked in my account on 7 Apr, 2 days after issuing the tickets. And this morning I got both payment refund to my account, the transaction date is the same date as I wrote to the execute team. I don’t know if it is their standard procedure when suspending accounts, that they cancel all the flights booked in the account and refund the cash part? Or it is the result of my email?

    2. After realizing nationality/geography could be a big issue, it suddenly came to my mind, that the phone call I made to issue the tickets is by Skype, and it still shows a virtual Chinese phone number. In my profile I left the German number. Do you think it could be an issue too? But nowadays people use more than one number, right? Can it be a red flag for VS?

    @JDB @Mouse thanks for the input. It is a good reminder to be more careful with which card to use. Probably I will use my German cards for UK purchase, it might be safer.

    thanks @Froggee for your suggestions! I will provide some supporting facts/docs to address the possible fraud red flags we found here. I can’t believe nationality could be an issue in this case, sadly. I also bought quite some UA points before, and used it for many flights, for my parents, partner. super smooth! No troubles no frustrations. Shockingly VS could be so much worse. First time to know ‘data subject access request’, I will keep that in mind and check later. Thanks.

    Here is another example

    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?

    @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

    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?

    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 🙁

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