Linda Huber misses her ski vacation in Vail, Colorado, after the resort closes amid the coronavirus outbreak. But is her Vail Epic Pass refundable? So far, Vail has been mum.
Q: I spent $1,398 for a local Vail Epic Pass. Vail Resorts allows you to ski in Vail for 10 days with a local pass. Normal Vail tickets last season per day were $209, so they encouraged early enrollment of the Epic Pass. I paid early.
We had plans to ski in Vail the first week in April, but they closed because of the coronavirus. Vail recently canceled its ski season because of coronavirus. I asked for a refund but Vail Resorts will not even offer a partial refund. The airlines, hotels and car rentals have refunded their purchases, but not Vail.
We sent several emails, but to no avail. We haven’t used the passes at all this season. What are your thoughts? Should Vail refund our money or not? — Linda Huber, Dimondale, Michigan
A: I think Vail Resorts owes you a refund. But how much of a refund? That’s debatable.
You purchased a local season pass for Mount Brighton, but had no intention of skiing there. Instead, you planned to use your pass in Vail, which the pass allows you to do. So I don’t think you can argue for a full refund at this point in the ski season (you contacted me in mid-March).
But should Vail Resorts be able to keep all of your money? No. A prorated refund makes more sense. You could calculate the amount based on how much of the season remains — in your case, about six weeks.
From Vail Resorts’ perspective, these refunds will hurt. It needed the money from the passes and, like every other travel company, will probably push its customers to accept a credit. I think offering a 2020-21 season pass might be an attractive option for someone who has already used most of a 2019-20 pass, for example.
But either way, Vail Resorts has to do something.
It looks like you tried to contact Vail Resort through its website. You could have also gone a step further and emailed one of Vail Resorts’ executives. They publish a list of them on the Vail Resorts site. All emails at Vail Resorts are formatted email@example.com.
I contacted Vail Resorts on your behalf. A representative responded by sharing an email from Kirsten Lynch, the company’s chief marketing officer, sent to all passholders. In it, she says “we have not forgotten about you,” adding, “I have read your emails and comments on social media. I completely understand your frustrations and your concerns about this past season.”
The representative promised a more specific response by the end of April. I followed up with Vail Resorts several times. On April 27, the company said it would offer season passholders a future credit of “at least 20% and up to 80%” if they weren’t able to use their pass at all.
You have one more option: a credit card dispute under the Fair Credit Billing Act. You clearly did not get what you paid for and deserve a refund. If Vail Resorts doesn’t come through, consider a chargeback.
If you need help with a coronavirus-related refund, please contact me. You can send details through my consumer advocacy site or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.