Viagogo Vianono

Apologies in advance – this post may feel a bit like pulling teeth…if it does, then think yourself lucky you’re not Carole.


In the summer of 2012 Carole made arrangements to go and see Jessie J live at the O2. She spent over £300 with Viagogo to buy four tickets, and having done so, Keira and a friend plus two mums looked forward to the gig. A few days before the event, the tickets had not arrived so Carole contacted Viagogo who told her that the gig had been postponed. Note: Carole contacted Viagogo, not the other way around. Everyone was a little deflated by the delay and Carole understandably wasn’t happy that Viagogo made no effort to contact her with the news.

The Main Event?

The concert was rescheduled from a Saturday in March to a Wednesday in October, in the middle of school half term holidays – phew! A few days before the concert, the tickets arrived, all systems go! On the day – everyone headed off to London by train, took the Thames Clipper to the O2 arena and enjoyed an early dinner before heading in to see the support acts.

Except the gang didn’t head in, they were refused entry at the gate, something about their tickets being duplicates. The O2 staff refused to go with Carole to check and see if these seats were indeed already occupied, and on checking further, the O2 confirmed the tickets weren’t in Carole’s name and there was nothing more they would do about it. You can imagine how the news went down. The kids kept a stiff upper lip and Carole went off in search of a Viagogo representative, and found them sat at a desk in the O2 bar.

The Viagogo people at the venue refused to leave their station to help and they acknowledged they had made errors in the ticketing process. The only thing they were willing to do at the time was offer a 50% refund and replacement tickets in the standing only area, for over 16s. Keira and her friend are 10 and 11 respectively, and as much as they aspire to be a little older, passing the girls off as 16 year olds wasn’t going to happen. To the gang’s credit – they tried!

Eventually Carole obtained tickets elsewhere and they got into the arena just a few minutes before Jessie J came on stage. The team persisted, and they had a great time, no thanks to Viagogo.


The following day Carole spoke with Viagogo who confirmed their errors and offered a full refund. Carole was told the refund would be processed immediately. Since that day – Carole has had to chase and chase and chase. Viagogo started offering excuses around our bank refusing to accept the refund, saying it would now have to be processed manually and would take two or three weeks. All the leg work in chasing this up came from Carole – Viagogo staff refused point blank to transfer her to previous people she’d spoken with, refused to put her through to the finance department and more. Promised call backs weren’t kept and the situation went from bad to worse.

Every time Carole spoke with Viagogo another excuse for the delays was dribbled out. We need your bank IBAN number. We need your bank SWIFT code. Your bank has refused to accept the payment. And so it goes on. We’ve written three times to Ed Parkinson the UK CEO, so far nothing from him. We’ve had numerous recurring unhelpful exchanges on Twitter too.

Viagogo tweets

All talk, no money. I posted my frustration on Facebook yesterday and a couple of good friends suggested that as Viagogo are in the business of music, or at least in the business of preventing fans from seeing it live, they might like a song from me about their now legendary poor customer service. I haven’t written a complaint song for months, not since Fancy A Curry, which the team at Currys responded wonderfully to.

Will Sing for Refunds

Yesterday evening I hastily wrote, recorded and uploaded the punk ‘classic’, Viagogo Vianono. Keira watched the finished product and said, how do you manage to sing so many words without breathing? Later on, after watching the video, my friend Kev Wyke said, ‘You don’t need breath when you’re fuelled by fury’. Love it!

Where Are We Now?

Last night sometime after 11pm Carole received a text from Viagogo with another promise that the refund would be processed immediately. We’ll see… you’ll forgive us if we don’t have a lot of confidence in this latest promise, we’re not alone it seems.

While We Wait

Putting to one side all the hassle and wasted time that Viagogo have inflicted on Carole et al, what does this tale tell you about the culture of service in Viagogo? Carole’s observations are mainly around the lack of response and the complete unwillingness or inability of the front line to act, beyond making vague unfulfilled promises.

If you work in HR, as some of my readers do, I think it’s your responsibility to help ensure that your colleagues come to work and are given the tools they need to do their job well. And if that job is customer satisfaction, which let’s face it, is a part of everyone’s job, that means giving front line staff the ability to solve problems quickly and effectively. If you’re in HR and you’re not asking your colleagues across the business, ‘How can I help you deliver better service?’ when you meet them everyday, then I don’t think you’re doing enough of the right stuff. Be restless, be curious, serve, serve, serve.


Our trampoline has seen better days so we thought we would spruce it up a bit and splash out on a new pad to go round the edge, and a new enclosure and pole pads. These last two items are particularly helpful when it comes to retaining enthusiastic jumpers within the trampoline environment, i.e, it stops folk from falling off.

On 20th June 2012 I called up Outdoor Toys Direct, the company we bought the trampoline from in Spring (ho ho!) 2008 and was a little surprised to find the replacement costs of the new parts came to £130, compared to an original purchase price of just under £200 for the whole kit and kaboodle. I didn’t really want another trampoline cluttering up the place so I bit the bullet and ordered the spares. Here’s a summary of what happened next:

Money taken from account, email confirmation arrives

25th June: Pad and enclosure delivered minus pole pads

26th June: Called and asked for pole pads, more emails arrived confirming extra pads ordered

28th June: Pole pads arrived, not enough sent. Delivery driver won gold medal for unhelpfulness

28th June: Called and asked for more pole pads, more emails arrived confirming extra pads ordered

3rd July: Pole pads arrived

Finally, all the raw ingredients are here now we can revamp the tramp! New pad goes round the outside edge of the trampoline, nicely does it. Pole pads go on, nicely does it. We get the enclosure out, it’s the wrong size 🙁

4th July: Called and asked for correct size enclosure. Staggeringly I’ve remained polite throughout despite all the cock ups and a distinct whiff of indifference every time I call. On this last call I explained that I’d really like to get this trampoline in shape before the weekend when 15 kids are gonna rock up and want to play on it.

5th July: Email arrives confirming correct size enclosure ordered, it looks like the final piece of the puzzle may just arrive in time…

6th July: Email arrives confirming my money has been refunded.

I’m guessing that Outdoor Toys Direct have given up. Maybe they can’t source the part we need? Maybe they just can’t be arsed any more? Who knows? I certainly don’t know because they’ve not told me anything. I’d love to see the employee handbook for this place, I bet the Customer Service pages are blank, or perhaps they show a flow chart ending with the company sticking two fingers up to their customers? And if this is how they treat their customers, I hate to think about how they treat their staff.

Dealing with this company is exhausting, I’m way too tired to write a song about it. But if I could rap (which thankfully for you I can’t), I’d probably rap something like this:

I ordered some spares for our trampoline, The fuss came next like a ruptured spleen

I called many times (how many?) Umpteen, Hanging on the phone I need my caffeine

I just wanna cover made of polypropylene, The pads are blue in colour not aquamarine

By the time they arrive my kid’ll be a teen, Wearing make up ‘n’ stuff made of nitrosamine

I just want to revamp my trampoline……word.

I know, it’s just a trampoline, what’s all the fuss about? Part of me agrees, and part of me thinks that companies like this rely on silent disgruntlement to keep them in business. If it takes a bit of jumping up and down occasionally (sorry!), then so be it.

The Wrong Trousers

Although I had the pleasure of meeting Wallace and Gromit at TEDxGranta earlier this year, sadly this is not a post about them.

Nope, it’s another post about my good buddies at Johnson Cleaners. Remember the song? Remember the spam? Well I’ve continued to try and unsubscribe from the Johnson email machine and when that failed I tried to engage with Johnson’s on Twitter, all to no avail.

So today I’ve given up the social ghost and I’ve written an old fashioned paper letter to the MD of Johnson Cleaners.

You can read a copy of the letter here if you would like, and I will keep you posted with any reply, or lack of.