Vail Resorts Insist Man Still Pays for Epic Pass Despite Being Diagnosed with Cancer

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Michael Cookson, cancer patient, vail resorts, epic pass
Credit: Denver 7

It makes economic sense to buy next season’s pass at the cheapest available price, which is often before the previous season has even ended. But how many of you pay the extra $25 for pass insurance, ‘just in case’? Does that make economic sense?

The Epic Pass deal made sense to Michael Cookson, who skied more than 50-days last year. At a pricey $899, skiers and snowboarders can go to resorts worldwide. But it pays for itself in just four visits, according to the Vail Resort’s press release announcing the Epic Pass last year. He didn’t add-on the insurance.

Then in June, Cookson said doctors diagnosed him with prostate cancer that metastasized into bone cancer, meaning chemotherapy treatments which will last for 18 weeks. “My energy level will certainly decline,” said Cookson.

Michael Cookson, cancer patient, vail resorts, epic pass
Credit: Denver 7

Realizing there’s no way he would have the strength or be in a state of health to ski this season during his treatments, he called Vail Resorts to cancel his Epic Pass before he’s charged for the full amount, but the staff wouldn’t budge. Vail Resorts will charge $899 no matter what to his card in the fall.

“They said that it’s our policy. We will charge the credit card account in September for the 2018-2019 pass,” said Cookson, “Kind of petty and greedy.”

Denver7 reached out to Vail Resorts about Michael’s situation. They responded with the following statement:

In spite of best intentions, unforeseen things can sometimes happen that prevent us from participating in the sport we love. Like other companies in the travel industry, we strongly encourage our guests to purchase pass insurance to protect themselves from unexpected events that they can’t predict such as illness, injury or job loss. Our pass products are non-refundable and non-transferrable, and pass insurance is available at the point of sale for a modest cost of $10 to $25 per adult pass and $5 to $15 per child pass.

Liz Biebl

Director, Brand Communications

Michael wants this to be a lesson to others:

“I want people to know it’s important to buy the insurance on your season pass. Whether you’re gonna break your leg, hopefully not. Transfer jobs, family health crisis,” Cookson said.

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33 thoughts on “Vail Resorts Insist Man Still Pays for Epic Pass Despite Being Diagnosed with Cancer

  1. He will pay an average of $36 a day to ski for last year thru this season of not skiing. Others pay upwards of $185 per day or more. Does empathy cause us to want to give him a break not given to others? We all have choices and he made his to not buy insurance. Does it matter that Vail is a big corporation that doesn’t make changes? When he doesn’t like the response he goes to the public to cause frustrated people to jump on his train and complain. Life will be much easier for us all to read, follow the rules, and not complain when rules are not molded for our individual needs? I will use my pass year after year, follow the rules and get my break from the high daily prices and I will appreciate Vail for the opportunity. I will either buy insurance or I will take chances that I will not be injured before I get to ski/board for 4 + days this com8ng season.

    I don’t mean to criticize this gentleman as he is sick but he should keep an open mind regarding Vails policies, especially since he had a choice to insure or not and he did not.

  2. my daughter broke her leg skiing At taos. the first day of better Shredder an 8 week kids program and my wife and i were taking an adults local clinic that ran the same time.
    under the Blake’s the happily refunded all of our lesson money for us and her.
    stellar caring customer service.

    i can agree on both you know the policy.
    but jesus that’s pretty crappy and greedy.

    unfortunately that’s how the world is going. money is king and we don’t care about anyone’s hardships

  3. Again… you spent $4k and would not buy $25 insurance?…well… that means a lot. What do you do when you decline rental car insurance and get into an accident…do you demand the car rental company to cover that on your behalf? They make it pretty obvious you should get one…and if you dont get it…then you lose.
    I seriously cant stand entitled, demanding people with no sense of responsibility. Wake up.

  4. Wrong, we had an au pair she left our family a month ago, the season is 10 weeks away, they won’t refund the pass we bought her, the insurance would not have covered this situation, we even offered to use the refund to upgrade our passes they refused as they don’t allow the staff to make logical discretionary decisions. They are a greedy beaucratic organization and short sighted. In the 2020/21 season onwards we will boycott them so they and their share holders will lose $4000+ income onwards year after year. If the shareholders only knew what a short sighted micro management organization they they are maybe they would look else where. We estimate they will lose $80k over the next 20 years at today’s rate from us alone. But Let’s hope that gentleman recovers from cancer, and uses every drop of vales life electricity to cut into their precious profits.

    1. Again… you spent $4k and would not buy $25 insurance?…well… that means a lot. What do you do when you decline rental car insurance and get into an accident…do you demand the car rental company to cover that on your behalf? They make it pretty obvious you should get one…and if you dont get it…then you lose.

    1. I had a epic pass and a season pass at Bromley in VT. I tore my bicep tendon and had it surgically repaired on Dec 7. Dr said no skiing for the season. I did not buy insurance for either of my purchases. I asked both for a refund supported by a Dr. note. Epic said no, Bromley Mt. allowed me to move the pass forward to the next ski season.

      Epic followed the letter of the law. I can not fault them. However I did cancel my auto renew. Bromley secured a customer ( with kids, grand kids, friends and co-workers) for life!

  5. I had a medical issue about 15 years ago and Ski Copper refunded my seasons pass as long as I provided a doctors not. It all worked out fine. The bad press fall out on Vail from this one could have easily been avoided. Just refund the poor guy his pass!

  6. This kind of blanket corporate policy is why I did not buy two passes for my kids this year. As a result We are skiing non-epic mountains and are having a blast!

  7. I fell at Boyne Mountain, Mi on Nov. 23rd ( Black Friday/2nd day out) and broke both of my wrists. Boyne Resorts not only froze my season pass but also my husbands! We will be able to re-activate them for 2019-20 season passes! That’s how you run a business!

    1. Yeah, but you got hurt on their property- so they were being nice…. the guy did not get cancer bc he was skiing at Vail.
      I must say that when I don’t get insurance I cant complain- flying, renting car, skiing… all the same- they offer insurance. There is insurance for a reason.
      Where is the threshold?? I break an arm, get flu, bad deal of cold… whatever… would that mean I get a refund? It is at the resort if they make an exception but the dude makes it sound like they should have… no, he should have bought the insurance.

  8. The “extra” insurance is a scam! Why not include it in the cost of the ticket? Some will need it, most will not!

  9. As a decades long travel agent, I always offer my clients the opportunity to purchase insurance, in order to protect their lofty investment. It always amazes me when people spend big money on a vacation (with significant cancelation penalties up to 100%) and then decline coverage (for a modest sum). So, Vail should refund a cancer diagnosis? How about a pregnancy? A job move or loss? A car accident victim? A home lost to fire or flood? It’s unfare to expect the supplier to take the financial hit, when you were unwilling to do so in the first place. Please… take personal responsibility for your own decisions.

  10. I had an issue with Vail Resorts in 2011. I haven’t bought a pass from them since. They could have made so much more money off me in the long run if they treated me like a human being. I wonder how many more dollars, I mean people, fall into this category.

    1. I promise it didn’t affect Vale any if you don’t ever return to any of the resorts.

    1. But logically incorrect. He paid for a no-refund pass. If policies become too flexible then they start to appear too loose and malleable. I’m with Vail on this one.

    2. Yeah, so greedy. They have zero operating expenses to accommodate all you entitled a-holes, right? I’m sure your mom was right, you ARE a snowflake that deserves to walk thru life for free with no accountability. “TWENTY FIVE EXTRA DOLLARS??? But how will I ever afford those $12 kambuchas now??” Sad.

  11. I fully understand the Vail Resorts policy, but I bet this guy gets a call from a more senior manager who waived the policy.
    For other pass holders who may be injured while skiing, many ski areas will extend your pass privileges to the following season if you ask nicely. As a former Ski patroller, I will tell you that it is not uncommon for the patrollers to mention this to the injured skier.

  12. Simple solution. Cut up your card, call your bank and tell them the card was lost and you would like a replacement. They will send you a new one for the same account with a different number and the old number will be void. Then the charge will get declined in September.

    1. Excellent Advice! And in the Future, avoid Vail Resorts. (They treat their Employees like Crap . . . ). I say Alterra!

    2. Wrong! If the purchase was made prior to getting the replacement card.. the amount has already been authorized and will simply be charged to the new card.

  13. The scariest part of this story is that according to Vail Corp a day pass will cost 225 bucks. BTW broke my leg last fall and skied zero days and squaw wouldn’t refund me and I’m not mad. Should’ve bought the insurance

  14. The three basic human emotions: Greed,Fear, and Greed!! They do it because “they can”………..

    1. If they refunded his past they would have to start refunding anybody who was unable to use their pass. What’s the difference between him getting cancer versus somebody else breaking their femur? Or having to move because there was a death in the family.. if you can shell out $900 for a pass you don’t need to be a penny pincher and save $25 more.

    2. The three basic millennial emotions: laziness, fear (of missing out), and entitlement!! They do it because “their parents never told them no & everyone else is doing it”…….

  15. It still makes economic sense not to buy it.

    If you want to talk rules of personal finance, you shouldn’t treat Insurance as an investment that you break even with. You treat insurance as something to protect you from risks that can ruin you, like not getting health insurance.
    This guy skied 50 days last season. If he’s living a lifestye that can afford 50days of leisure, let’s be realistic, losing $899 shouldn’t ruin him.

    The deal was all laid out, they didn’t change the deal. He’s the one asking for an accommodation.

    As far as being petty, I would say he’s the one overly focused on the small things. Shouldn’t he be focused on the bigger things with his time. For example, digging into the details his Health Insurance and/or Life Insurance and making sure he doesn’t get screwed there which is going to be Orders of Magnitude more important than getting back $899 from VR.
    If he wants to delve into pettiness, he could also cancel his credit card or dispute the charge. The worse is he gets banned from VR.

    1. Simple solution. Pull all the money out of that account and let the charge decline. Problem solved and move on. Yeah you loose the 50 bucks but Vail is not going to go after you. It’s too late now anyways. But really guys. I can’t believe they thought of that.

    2. Agreed, its a luxury. People pay that much for one resorts year pass. There’s no fine print. He’s expecting Vail to give him something for free, and it was worth the try.., but steady on mate….focus on your health.

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