Expect a storm around Virgin Blue over the next day or so, with what appears to be a monumental stuff up with their email database.

Late this afternoon, an email went out to what appears to be a huge number, if not the entire VELOCITY REWARDS email database – that is, everyone who is a Velocity Rewards Member (Virgin Blue Frequent Flyer).

Thanks to one Twitter user Michael below is the email:

Virgin Blue's Velocity Reward GOLD UPGRADE EMAIL

Virgin Blue's Velocity Reward GOLD UPGRADE EMAIL

And this was much to the surprise of many recipients, some who had never travelled Virgin Blue using their rewards account, and thus were barely eligible for ‘SILVER’ membership let alone ‘GOLD’.

To make matters worse, existing ‘GOLD’ members also received the email.. One complaining in an Online Forum:

I just got the email too — except that i was ALREADY gold til dec 2010.

I had 92,000 status credits with DJ (nearly DOUBLE gold) when they rolled over a week or two again. If you’ve all been upgraded to gold, i’m seriously going to never fly DJ again as a matter of principle.

It seems Virgin Blue has a lot of work to do to recover from this.

A retraction was sent out soon after, but not soon enough for the many disgruntled people who had themselves a boost for Friday afternoon thinking their travels would be ever more relaxing with access to the Gold members lounge.

The retraction was as follows:

Virgin Blue's Velocity Reward RETRACTION

Virgin Blue's Velocity Reward RETRACTION

The retraction is one, thing, add to that the VirginBlue’s Twitter status message apologising and a note on the Velocity Rewards website, and you’re starting the slow crawl back to the hearts of your members.

Virgin Blue's Twitter Apology

Virgin Blue's Twitter ApologyVirgin Blue's Velocity Reward Program Website Notice

Virgin Blue's Velocity Reward Program Website Notice

Virgin Blue's Velocity Reward Program Website Notice

However, judging by the number of Virgin #Fail messages on twitter, this won’t be over in a hurry for Virgin Blue.

What can they do?  This is possibly as simple as Human Error – Is the prompt retraction enough to avoid them having to actually upgrade everyone who received the email?

How does a database so big so easily get accidentally sent the wrong message?

Again, I am tipping this is human error.  Question really isn’t how did it happen – no doubt three new hoops will be put in place before another email is ever sent – but how do you make up for the utter disappointment suffered by the people who received it, were quite chuffed, but then were literally rejected.

A free single pass to the Gold Lounge? Even that would be difficult to sustain.

This will be very interesting to follow. 



Thanks to Scott Korman for the tip off to this story!