in a wallet no seven-day wonder, by Helen Shield -
2nd August 2003
The Sydney Morning Herald)
Money has defended itself against allegations
of poor customer service, saying it had overcome
a backlog of credit card applications and was
now up to date.
director Rohan Gamble rejected claims that Virgin
Money had processed less than 10 per cent of an
estimated 150,000 applications for the Virgin
Credit Card, saying such reports were "massively
off the mark".
declined to say how many credit card applications
Virgin had received and how many had been processed.
Richard Branson launched Virgin Money's zero-annual
fee, low-rate credit card in Australia in a blaze
of publicity in May, but despite the runaway success
of Virgin Blue airline and Virgin Mobile, Virgin
Money has been plagued by allegations of poor
Mr Gamble conceded that Virgin Money and its processing
partner, Westpac, had been "overwhelmed by
the demand" - the partners received 50,000
credit card applications in the first week - but
insisted that Virgin was meeting its self-imposed
seven-day deadline for approving new Virgin Credit
recent weeks, Virgin Money has been lambasted
for poor customer service by subscribers to consumer
website http://www.notgoodenough.com.au, and yesterday
banking industry newsletter http://www.thesheet.com
reported that Westpac had processed less than
10 per cent of the estimated 150,000 applications
for the card.
Gamble said those figures, attributed to a Finance
Sector Union source, were wrong, but he declined
to correct them for competitive reasons.
had 50,000 applications in the first week,"
he said. "Since then demand has been incredibly
strong. It hasn't flown at 50,000 a week, but
it has continued to be amazingly strong."
said Virgin Money was still getting "tens
of thousands" of applications a week for
the 11.9 per cent credit card - with a special
4.9 per cent rate for the first six months - which
compares favourably with average credit card rates
of 16 to 18 per cent.
Money had issued "tens of thousands of cards"
and was "absolutely meeting our targets now",
group has the dubious distinction of a fifth-
place ranking in the top 10 most complained about
companies on http://www.notgoodenough.com.au
Dr Fiona Stewart said the website had received
a "steady stream of gripes" about Virgin
of the complaints were about delays - specifically,
that Virgin failed to process credit card applications
within the seven days promised.
spokeswoman Julia Quinn said Westpac had "worked
hard" to deal with the deluge of applications
and is running at its target service levels, "a
Gamble said one issue that was frustrating Virgin
Money customers was the 100-point identity check,
which involves customers proving their identity
with a range of documents. This is compulsory
for anyone wanting to open a bank account. Aspiring
bank customers could complete the 100-point check
by bringing documentation into a bank branch,
but Virgin Money customers had been asked to send
this information by mail.
said customers might have been confused by "the
wording" of Virgin's claim to approve credit
card applications within seven days. The seven
days related only to Virgin's decision to approve
the applicant. After that, customers still needed
to undergo the 100-point identity check.
man Peter Mitchell, who applied for a Virgin card
in May - and withdrew his application in frustration
earlier this month - said he thought he had been
promised a credit card in his wallet in seven
days. He was angry that he had to wait weeks for
a response, only to be asked to complete the 100-point
don't know why they didn't ask for the 100-point
check from the start," he said. "I would
have been happy to take my application to a Westpac
branch and say, here's my ID. I'm disappointed."
Gamble rejected outright another complaint by
some notgoodenough subscribers - that Virgin was
rejecting customers with good credit records because
they had a history of paying off their cards in
full each month.
Money had received 10 such complaints, which it
investigated, and said eight of those were "fraud