Senior Editor

After a report by Denver’s local ABC outlet,
Vail Resorts is receiving serious blowback from viewers after refusing to refund the pass payment of Michael Cookson, an Arvada, Colorado resident who was diagnosed with prostate cancer which then metastasized into bone cancer. He’s currently undergoing treatments and won’t have the strength to ski this season, he fears.

Cookson reportedly skied some 50 days last year so paying $899 for the Epic Pass, which is good at resorts around the world, was probably a good call. Unfortunately, he didn’t pay the $25 insurance to protect his pass in case of job loss or injury. His credit card is on file with the company, which is set to charge him the full amount in September. He tried to circumvent the conundrum with a phone call. “They said that it’s our policy. We will charge the credit card account in September for the 2018-2019 pass,” Cookson told the station.

Vail Resorts hasn’t budged on the issues. It released a statement to Denver 7 addressing the situation: “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.”

Vail Resorts plans to get in touch with Cookson after the report. Comments on the Denver station’s Facebook page are many, and most reflect outrage at the company. It’s been an interesting couple of years in the ski resort business as consolidation has been the name of the game. The Epic and Ikon passes have brought some of the world’s best resort destinations under single passes. But that hasn’t always endeared them to skiers and riders, many of whom feel priced out by the industry in general.

Vail Resorts is completely within its rights to refuse a refund in this situation. The company’s literature clearly states its policy. I’m sure all the proper paperwork is in place. But, as an idealist myself, empathy should surely rule the day. An attitude that seems to have been buried deep beneath protocol in today’s world.


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.