BREAKING: Vail Resorts Outline Epic Pass Credit Policy for Closing Resorts Early

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Vail Resorts
Vail Resorts

To honor the loyalty of their pass holders Vail Resorts just announced a comprehensive plan to address pass holders’ concerns about last season’s closures – and provide them with peace of mind for the future. 

 “Our pass holders are our most loyal guests and we have spent weeks reading their emails and comments on social media to fully understand their concerns so we could respond thoughtfully and carefully,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer at Vail Resorts. “What became clear is that to address last season, a one-sized-fits-all approach would not work. That is why we are providing our season pass holders credits based on the number of days they were able to use their pass. Additionally, while we are confident we will have a great upcoming ski and ride season, we understand some people may be nervous about committing to a pass now in this current uncertainty. With that in mind, we are redefining pass protection with our new ‘Epic Coverage,’ free for all pass holders, and extending our spring deadlines to Labor Day to give them the time they need. We truly hope this plan honors our pass holders’ loyalty and provides them peace of mind for future.”

Below is the full letter to pass holders from Vail Resorts Chief Marketing Officer, Kirsten Lynch:

Dear Pass Holders,

Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time. We have been addressing the real-time challenges of COVID-19, focusing on the health and safety of our employees and communities. We have also been working on a comprehensive plan to address our pass holders’ concerns about this past season – and the future.

We have read all your emails and comments on social media. We have heard your two primary concerns: First, you are disappointed with last season’s closures. Second, you are worried about next season because of the current uncertainty.

To address these specific concerns, we are sharing a plan that I hope honors your loyalty and provides you with peace of mind about the future:

To Address Last Season:

Credits from 20% to 80% for Season Pass Holders: We are providing credits to 2019-20 season pass holders, based on the price of their pass, to apply toward the purchase of a 2020-21 season pass of equal or greater value:

    • A minimum credit of 20% for season pass holders, based on the resort closures in mid-March impacting about 20% of the core season
    • Higher credits for season pass holders who used their pass less than five days
    • A maximum credit of 80% if you did not use your season pass at all, because we recognize that some of you were waiting until spring to use your pass

Credits for Epic Day Pass, Whistler Blackcomb Edge Card and Multi-Pack Pass Holders: For guests with remaining days on their 2019-20 Epic Day Pass, Edge Card or one of our other multi-pack pass products, we are providing a credit for each unused day, up to 80% of the price paid for your pass to apply toward a pass of equal or greater value for next season.

Your credit will be valid through Labor Day (Sept. 7, 2020): because we understand that you may need time to decide on your plans for next season.

This may seem complicated, but something simple would not address all the unique situations of our pass holders.  We will email you personally in the coming weeks to share your specific credit details and your promotion code, which you can use online starting May 13. If you renew your pass prior to receiving your promotion code, we will retroactively provide the credit value back to you. In the meantime, you can click here to use the tables to find your pass credit, see our FAQs, and review the terms and conditions.

Looking Ahead to the 2020-21 Season:

New ‘Epic Coverage’ Protects You Next Season: We are confident we will be enjoying a great upcoming ski and ride season, but we also understand that many pass holders are nervous about the future given the current uncertainty. With this in mind, we are launching ‘Epic Coverage’:

    • Epic Coverage is free for all pass holders and completely replaces the need to purchase pass insurance, which can cost up to $60 for other passes.
    • Epic Coverage provides for a refund if you have an eligible injury, job loss, or experience other personal events that prevent you from using your pass.
    • Epic Coverage also provides a refund for certain resort closures, including for events like COVID-19, giving you a refund for any portion of the season that is lost.

We understand that times have changed so Epic Coverage completely redefines your pass protection. We value your loyalty and we want you to enjoy your pass knowing that we are standing behind our commitment to your peace of mind. Click here to learn more about Epic Coverage, see our FAQs, and review the terms and conditions.

Savings All Season Long: In March, we announced our new Epic Mountain Rewards, providing pass holders 20% off all mountain food & beverage, owned and operated lodging, group ski and ride lessons, equipment rentals and more at our North American resorts. No sign-up. No points tracking. No blackout days. Just savings. Learn more about Epic Mountain Rewards here.

The Time You Need:

Spring Deadlines Extended to Labor Day: We do not want to rush your decision. We are eliminating our traditional spring purchase deadlines, giving you through Labor Day (Sept. 7, 2020) to use your credit and to lock in 10 Buddy Tickets for next season. If uncertainty continues, we may reassess that deadline again as it gets closer.

Lowest Up-Front Cost: If you want to lock in your pass, we want to provide you the lowest up-front cost during this challenging time. Right now the deposit for your pass for next season is only $49, significantly less than the deposit many other passes require. This offer will extend for the next few months.

My hope is that this plan demonstrates our commitment to honoring your loyalty, with credits of 20%-80% for last season, Epic Coverage for next season, and more time to make a decision.  We recognize that some people may ask why we did not provide 100% credits or cash refunds for last season. We capped our credits at 80% because our mountains were open and operating for the majority of the season and our passes could be used during that time. Regarding refunds, we recognize that our passes, and pass insurance, historically have not provided for refunds in situations like this, which is why we are introducing the new Epic Coverage.

Thank you for your loyalty. I am confident that our collective passion for the mountains will prevail and we will get through this together. I hope to see you on the mountain next season.  And most importantly, I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.

Thank you,

Kirsten Lynch EVP and Chief Marketing Officer

Vail Resorts

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3 thoughts on “BREAKING: Vail Resorts Outline Epic Pass Credit Policy for Closing Resorts Early

  1. Sharing some intel from an ongoing battle against Vail Inc. to refund our Whistler Edge cards.

    Long post, but in a nutshell, despite Vail’s claims that refunds are “impossible”, 2019-20 pass holders products have several solid options to get their money back; all based on the closure being a decision solely by them to voluntarily close resorts and deny the services you purchased.

    Your mileage may vary (i.e. Epic season pass, US residents, etc). Also a personal ethical call – maybe closing was a necessary evil, but keeping your money isn’t. This is not some mom and pop ski hill, but a massive corporation that consistently prioritizes its interests and shareholders over its customers and communities. Though if you think the credit is enough or want to subsidize Vail’s Covid “losses” (notwithstanding they didn’t pay staff or operations expesnes for days you couldn’t ski)…good on ya, I guess. Just hope you thought about what the upcoming season could look like (

    We bought our Edge passes in April 2019 (2 days for my wife + 5 for me = $685.81), and were actually at Whistler when they closed on March 13 2020, ruining a planned ski week.

    We tried asking for refunds at the ticket counter that day – flatly denied, they asked us to contact Guest Services. Which we did later in March – and were told a decision would be made on refunds in late April.

    So we tried again in late April – radio silence.

    Finally in mid-May, we got an email from Vail offering…a partial credit; only valid for an equal or higher price pass; for the next season; along with a lot of BS marketing speak about “honouring their customers”.

    Except we’re expecting a baby and not skiing next season, so this was totally useless. We again asked for a refund – twice – but were ignored.

    Fine, if that’s how Vail wants to “honour” multi-decade customers who have even worked for their resort, game on.

    So first off, if you accepted their credit and put down a deposit for next season, stop reading. You gave up all rights to a refund or future legal action, thanks to slimy lawyer fine print you probably didn’t read.

    Option 1 (if not open to us Canucks) is the class action filed against Vail by Paynter Law ( Never hurts to sign up.

    Option 2 is to file a complaint with your local consumer protection agency. Consumer Protection BC confirmed that the closure would be considered a material change in pass terms and conditions, which overrides the “non-refundable” clause. Basically, they broke their own rules, so they no longer apply.

    CPBC also noted “no refund” clauses are invalid anytime a merchant declines to provide a pre-paid good or service for reasons within its control – i.e. a bad snow year doesn’t count, fair enough.

    Option 3 – file a credit card dispute / chargeback. Maybe not as sexcy as a lawsuit or feel-good as consumer advocacy. But also more likely to get your money back faster. Plus there’s an extra bonus – merchants are penalized and can even be dropped by a card processor for excessive chargebacks. There’s speculation this is why airlines are suddenly offering COVID ticket refunds, after recent media attention suggested chargebacks.

    Of course Vail lawyers and execs know this, and worked with their marketing teams on language to make people think refunds are impossible, plus cooking up the “credit” scheme and manipulative wording to make it look like they care about more than the corporate bottom line. But they don’t and they won’t..unless enough of us file chargebacks, and they decide it’s safer to voluntarily offer refunds, helping all your fellow snow lovers.

    It’s not always easy though…our card company (Capital One) put up a fight at first and said the no refunds clause meant we couldn’t dispute. Fortunately Mastercard itself stepped in, recently issuing its “Dispute Resolution Management During COVID-19”.

    It’s pretty thick read, so here are some key excerpts:

    “Merchants are ultimately responsible for issuing a refund to the cardholder when the merchant has cancelled the service. Merchants can offer a credit or voucher for future use if that is acceptable to the cardholder, but should process a refund promptly if the cardholder declines the merchant’s offer.” (strike one)

    “There is a chargeback right when services are not provided, including when they are cancelled by a merchant due to government restrictions, insolvency or other exceptional circumstances, unless the merchant has a right to provide the cardholder with reasonable alternatives based on the terms and conditions properly disclosed to the cardholder at the time purchase, or based on applicable government legislation or regulation.” (credits were never part of their terms and conditions, so you don’t have to accept it)

    “Reasonable alternatives for future services cannot be imposed on the cardholder in lieu of a refund…” (stick that credit where the sun don’t shine)

    “There is no chargeback right if the merchant and cardholder had reached an amicable solution where the cardholder accepted the reasonable alternative and the reasonable alternative is usable as described, even if the original reservation was refundable.” (why accepting their credit means you’re stuck)

    Some other chargeback advice…you do need to ask Vail for a refund first (good luck). Then, if a response doesn’t come within 15 days or is rebuffed, customers can call the payment card issuer and request a chargeback on the grounds that services they paid for were not rendered.

    In terms of timing, it’s kind of short too…depending on your card, you generally have to file the dispute within 120 calendar days of the original transaction date OR 120 calendar days from the last date that you expected to receive the merchandise or services (up to a maximum of 540 days from the transaction date). So given mid-March closures, that only gives you until mid-July.

    Oh and if your card company whines, stick to your guns…you can insist on a chargeback process even if they suggest the matter is between you and Vail, or that the tickets were non-refundable…latter is NOT legally enforceable when you are denied a service on voluntary grounds, any more than the language on your lift tickets most people thinks prevents a lawsuit in case of injury.

    And if your bank still refuses, stick it to them too via a complaint to their Ombudsperson, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, or whatever American equivalent protects consumers.

    Fight the power.

  2. As ticked off as I sometimes get with the Vail Corp, I’m glad they are addressing the rebate issue

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