06 July 2016

Complaint and contracts calls must be 01/02/03

This change happened in June 2014. Companies have had 2 years to adapt to this, well 2.5 years if you add in the 6 month warning they were given in Dec 2013.

Virgin on the illegal

I emailed Virgin Wines last Friday to ask to put my “Discovery Box” deliveries on hold. I had no room for them and won’t drink much in the coming weeks.

No response on Tuesday. I can only guess that was so that the box gets delivered and they get their £100.

I didn’t want to have to deal with that argument so figured a quick call would resolve it. I still wanted to just pause the deliveries for a few months

0843, 0843, 0843…

The only contact numbers were 0843 prefixed.

Virgin Wines 0843

But wait, that’s been illegal for 2 years. So I checked the guidance on the gov.uk site and found this applies to contract and complaint related calls.

I looked up the EE calling costs: 44p/min (EE take this as an access charge PER MINUTE - updated) and 7p/min (service charge - Virgin Wines get a chunk of this). So just over £1 if I get the call completed in less than 2 minutes. Updated thanks to @g1smd

However, Virgin Wines only offering 0843 calls is illegal. It has been for 2 years.

I’m sure it’s a genuine mistake, after all a company that Sir Richard Branson puts his name to couldn’t possibly engage in an illegal act, for TWO WHOLE YEARS?

Sadly they were.

I made the call, but whilst verifying my ID I decided I didn’t want to pause but cancel my account completely.

I didn’t want to deal with a law-breaking company.

Trading Standards

I tweeted about this in the evening and overnight was tweeted to by someone knowledgable about this subject who gave me a number to call - which lead to an online form

I filled this in and tweeted that I have reported Virgin Wines to Trading Standards for illegally providing 0843 numbers only.

I await their response.

What happened next was interesting…

Long term project

I received these tweets back in response to my questions:

Virgin Wines tweet

Virgin Wines tweet

Virgin Wines tweet

And also the email exchange from their “Head of a Service & Delivery” suggested that they’ve been aware of this and are running a project for the “smooth transition to a replacement 0343 telephone number”.

What? It takes 2 years to do this?

I was tweeted to earlier that the 03xx equivalent has been available for 08xx numbers since 2007. A quick google found that companies offer this transition in a matter of days.

Not 2 years.


It’s funny how something will be done in a matter of days after I filed my complaint isn’t it?

An action that companies will provide in a couple of days of consulted on.

Not a long term project.

More like an urgent reaction to a formal complaint to Trading Standards.

My views

This is a slap in the face for the wine-purchasing consumer.

And a slap in the face for someone like me who is a fan of the Virgin brand and the quality and honesty that the brand stands for.

This should have been addressed in June 2014. There’s no way that the Virgin Group should allow any company bearing their name to operate in this way. This illegal way.

Virgin Wines would’ve received around 2.5p/min from each call made to them, from at least a landline (I’m not privy to the deal they have with their communications provider and found that from another quick google).

This adds up to a lot of money. Not forgetting that customers would’ve paid nearly £3 for a 3 minute call that should’ve been charged at the national rate - or free to the many mobile customers that have inclusive minutes.

It’s time for Virgin Wines to come clean about they money they have made from their inaction to work within the letter of the law.

Whilst individually refunding customers is a big task, taking their call profits, coming clean about it, and donating that money to charity would be one way to redress what they have done.

So Sir Richard, how about it? How about you take some action on Virgin Wines to restore my faith, and others, in the Virgin name?

Sources of information

I’m grateful to @g1smd on Twitter for alerting me to a lot of info about this! Here’s a few links they sent me after writing this article:

How much will a call cost - you can see who their provider is too

Regulations - Point 7 applies

Or Point 8 on page 24 here

Legislation is here

«««< HEAD UK call charging - 08 and 03

Update 1 - July 7 2016 - 10pm

I’ve been alerted by the ever informative @g1smd that the Virgin Wines Twitter account now shows an 0343 number.

It’s funny that within 38 hours of my formal complaint to Trading Standards that they have changed their contact number on there.

I hope that tomorrow the rest of their numbers are updated…and that they formally apologise (though I suspect this bit won’t happen).

I’ve also got a response from their “Head of a Service & Delivery” saying £1 has been credited to my registered credit card to cover the cost of the call - so they’re admitting that they shouldn’t have charged for it?

Virgin Wines twitter account Virgin Wines twitter account

Update 2 - July 8 2016 - 8am

And, oh look, Virgin Wines are now compliant with the law - something that should have happened over 2 years ago in June 2014.

I seriously doubt they had a project running for ages to do this and stand by my assertion that my complaint to Trading Standards forced their hand to take away the profits they were making from customers, illegally, and complying with the letter of the law.

All in all, a very disappointing episode for the Virgin marque.

Virgin Wines website

Update 3 - July 8 2016 - 9am

Sadly Virgin Wines are still illegal.

And I’m going to now state that they do not have an ongoing project in place, and have simply reacted to my complaint about cancelling the Discovery Club contract.

JustREDs is another contract, similar to Discovery Club, which still is behind an 0843 number.

I’ll just leave this here…

Virgin Wines website


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