Friday, 16 January 2009

Hectoring salesmen and Virgin Wines

Some guy from an Indian call centre cold-called me and tried to sell me mobile broadband (special New Year offer). I always try and be polite and not waste their time, so after his quick initial spiel I started with the "thank you very much, but I'm not interested" but he kept interjecting with

"Do you not think this is a good deal Sir?"


"Why would you not take this good deal Sir?"

When I eventually put the phone down, I was annoyed with this hectoring tone but then I got an email from Virgin Wine...

Before Christmas, I had used a discount token a cousin had sent me to buy a nice case of wine for my Parents (who were hosting Christmas) from the younger generation.

When I had ordered using this token, the website had (somewhat sneakily) signed me up to a scheme called Virgin WineBank (I was was only told this in the order confirmation email).
This meant that they would take £20 a month from my credit card whether I liked it all not and then I could spent the accumulated balance on all or part of some specially-selected cases (ie. not on just anything on their site).

Needless to say there was no obviously way to cancel my membership but after scouring the website T&Cs, I saw that there was a clause saying that I could cancel at anytime and they would refund any money taken.

So, I wait untill after Christmas to email them to cancel. First I get an long automated email persuading me to stay and asking me to confirm and for my reasons. I reply with a polite email explained that I don't like to be tied in to things and I objected to the way I was signed up. The email I got back (supposedly from the MD) started:

"Dear xxxxxx

What have we done wrong?

I offered to pay you WineInterest on the money you spend with us. And I promised to refund you for any wines you don't enjoy. But you've still decided to cancel your WineBank membership. Why?"

Is that a hectoring email or what? Or am I just over-sensitive. I suppose it could be read in several ways but it took me aback. Maybe it's because I just had that phone call?

To be fair it then went on to say:

"If we have upset, or disappointed, you in any way, please accept my sincere apologies. We always try to make sure our customers are 100% happy with our wines and our service. But we're only human, and sometimes we mess up.

If we have done something wrong, please let me put it right. Drop me a line at and I promise I'll sort it out.

In the meantime, your WineBank membership has been cancelled and £xx.xx has been refunded on to your card. No further WineBank payments will be taken from you."

Now I've written it down, it maybe doesn't seem so bad, but I had a strong reaction at the time!

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