Virgin Trains have come under a lot of fire on social media for their treatment of a customer’s complaints.
Earlier today, Emily Lucinda Cole complained to Virgin about a sexist incident which she suffered on a train at the hands of a train manager when he called her ‘honey’.
In response to Emily calling out the everyday sexism of the situation, the Virgin Trains East Coast Twitter account replied with an equally sexist quip.
— Emily Lucinda Cole (@EmilyLucindaRC) January 2, 2018
Sorry for the mess up Emily, would you prefer ‘pet’ or ‘love’ next time? ^MS
They have subsequently deleted the tweet, though many on Twitter had already screenshotted the interaction and reposted for all to see.
Speaking to the BBC, Emily explained further just what happened on her train to shed some light on the situation.
She was travelling on a busy train from Edinburgh, where she had been visiting friends and family for Hogmany.
@VirginTrains incredibly rude and snarky response to a perfectly reasonable complaint.
— Rebecca Manning Reid (@RebeccaCNReid) January 2, 2018
They were telling passengers at the front desk and on the platform that they can sit in the basically empty first class coach and pay the weekend upgrade.
It was only after the train set off that they told us they’d all made a mistake and we had to move to try and find seats with all our luggage in the packed train.
The first person to check my ticket was very abrasive. His response to my explaining the situation, politely and honestly, and that I wanted to complain, was ‘you go ahead honey’.
In the context and given his aggressive tone I can only assume he didn’t like being challenged by a woman.
I wouldn’t have complained if he’d used the term in a familial or affectionate way. It definitely wasn’t that.
He was male. I heard him. And it wasn’t regionally appropriate. She was (legitimately) complaining about something else and his response was highly patronising.
— Joe Cannon #FBPE (@JoeCannonLondon) January 2, 2018
It was at this point that Emily tweeted Virgin Trains East Coast to voice her grievances, but received no satisfaction from the person handling the Twitter account.
The response has been quickly picked up online, with people admonishing Virgin Trains for their flippant response, and supporting Emily for her stance.
Their response was patronising and belittling. Just the behaviour I was complaining about.
It wasn’t about the use of the term in isolation that’s the problem but when these words are appropriated in such a passive aggressive way in response to a service complaint.
They become part of a wider systemic issue of women being patronised and belittled.
a friend who witnessed it said it wasn’t regionally appropriate, and he was quite clearly patronising her when she was complaining about something legit. and yeah, the real world isn’t tumblr, which is why people should act professional pic.twitter.com/8wPRRzTIe2
— grey skies ✧ (@skyliath) January 2, 2018
Some people weren’t convinced there was an issue, however. Some noted it’s difficult to know the meaning behind the term ‘honey’.
One person wrote:
Tbh I can understand where they’re coming from. I don’t think they meant it maliciously. They’ll have been trying to come across friendly/a bit more sincere to diffuse a situation.
You also forget older generations use different words to us. It’s normal to them.
We apologise unreservedly for this tweet and any offence that it may have caused. To avoid causing more offence we have deleted the original post.
— Virgin Trains EC (@Virgin_TrainsEC) January 2, 2018
A Virgin Trains spokesman deleted the tweet and said:
We apologise unreservedly for this tweet and for the offence caused. To avoid causing more offence we have deleted the original post.
Welcome to 2018, everyone, it seems nothing has changed.