Virgin Trains East Coast acknowledged on their website that "We understand that some of the most loyal customers today are engaged in the current Reward scheme and therefore have concerns about the move from that scheme to Nectar." but don't worry "We carried out research to understand what the typical customer wanted before taking the decision to introduce Nectar...".

We consulted our Twitter followers (currently over 700) whether any of them had been consulted on this. The answer was a resounding NO! However Virgin Trains East Coast are insistent that they did ask for our views:

They even told us who did the research:

So why have none of the 700 members that follow me ever been asked? Some of us have been using the line for years, been a part of East Coast Rewards from the very beginning and others have been part of the previous loyalty schemes too (there's a long history of loyalty schemes on the East Coast Mainline). Wouldn't the people you want to survey be the existing members? The ones you know have spent a significant portion of their income on the East Coast website? There's no point winning over new customers if the regulars decide to go elsewhere.

At the moment we don't know the answer to key questions. How many people did they interview, where did they interview them and what was their demographic? If they've interviewed the occasional traveller that thinks the only place to book online is thetrainline.com they're more likely to say yes to Nectar as they don't know there's a much better option, after all Nectar is better than nothing (barely). They also must never have interviewed season ticket holders or those who collect their points through business travel, or if they did they didn't explain they'd be left out the new scheme.

Doing an unbiased survey

If you want to do an unbiased survey you need to explain what the options without giving bias by mentioning a familiar brand. The question should be would you prefer the current loyalty scheme, a new loyalty scheme or no loyalty scheme. There should then be a description of each schemes benefits and drawbacks without mentioning the name of the scheme. Otherwise you end up getting the results skewed by those occasional travellers just picking the one they've heard of rather than what is best.

The message is clear

Put the introduction of Nectar on hold until you have the chance to do a fair survey that involves all rewards members.

What have you said

Not found anyone on Twitter yet that's been surveyed. I've asked and I also asked Virgin Trains East Coast to retweet as you'd expect at least one of their followers to have been consulted. After all those who use the train regularly are more likely to be following them. They did not take the opportunity to retweet.

Tweets above are all from Monday 16 February 2015 until 21:30. The question asked was "Has Virgin Trains East Coast consulted you on the changes to the Rewards scheme?"