Heathrow – where clean loos are an inconvenience…

My partner came back from South Africa this morning, and had asked if I could go and collect her from Heathrow.

Nipping to the Gents in the T5 arrivals hall was a mixture of what I can only describe as unpleasantness crossed with a few surreal moments.

I had to try about 4 stalls before I found one which didn’t have one or all of the following:

  • Urine sprayed all over the floor, seat and toilet pan.
  • Pubic hair stuck to the seat and toilet pan.
  • Dirty shoe prints on the toilet seat.
  • Diarrhoea sprayed all over the toilet and seat.
  • Faeces on the toilet seat.
  • No toilet paper.

Even the one I ended up using had to be swabbed down a bit first.

While looking for an (almost) acceptable stall, I came across a guy in the middle of emptying his bowels, sat with the toilet door wide open, with his luggage on a trolley in front of it, so that “he didn’t let his belongings out of his sight”.

I accept that some people have different toilet culture to us Brits, but this was getting quite bizarre, as well as inconvenient.

More than half the sinks did not seem to have soap in the dispensers, took trying 4 sinks before I found one with soap, and many of the hand dryers did not work (and had signs saying this was the case, in some cases).

I know public toilets aren’t always the best places on Earth, but this was a truly disgusting experience.

Why are these toilets so unloved?

I do wonder if they are cleaned and maintained by a minimum wage, zero hours employee, working for an outsourced cleaning contractor, who seems to have a very different idea of “clean” to you and me, that quite simply¬†doesn’t care as long as they get paid?

Providing a clean and properly working facility is part of your brand. Why allow your brand to be smeared by such a lack of care and attention?

Welcome to Britain, eh?

What is it with the Virgin Brand?

Or “Why it’s easy to pick fault with Virgin Group companies“.

You may have noticed that I’ve recently been airing my opinion – or is it pent-up frustration – on the service that Virgin Trains provides on the UK’s West Coast Mainline out of Euston station in London. I long ago gave up trying to interact with their customer relations department about their failure to deliver either a promised element of their product, or sometimes what should be just their basic service – a comfortable journey from A to B.

It got me thinking about the wider point of why people seem easily dissatisfied with a service, and specifically Virgin Group as a whole, trains, planes, phones, tv, internet access, etc. A couple of quick searches, especially on social media, and it’s easy to find people going full tilt hating on Virgin Trains, dishing out brickbats to Virgin Media about busted broadband, or flying off the handle about the run-down (thankfully soon to be updated) Gatwick fleet on Virgin Atlantic.

The crux I’ve arrived at is that the Virgin brand tends to overpromise through it’s marketing and brand image and therefore sets itself up to underdeliver and disappoint.

Let’s look at the key connotations of the Virgin brand: Continue reading “What is it with the Virgin Brand?”