‘It didn’t have to be that way:’ Epic Pass holders frustrated with refund process
Some Epic Pass holders say they finally received the refunds they requested for their 2020-21 season passes, but it’s been a long and difficult road.
In spring of 2020, Vail Resorts launched Epic Coverage following the sudden closure of the resorts and in preparation of an uncertain ski season. Epic Coverage was free for passholders, and a news release announcing the coverage explained that it replaced the need to purchase pass insurance.
“Epic Coverage provides refunds in the unlikely event of certain resort closures (i.e. for COVID-19), giving pass holders a refund for any portion of the season that is lost. Additionally, Epic Coverage provides a refund for personal circumstances covered by our pass insurance for eligible injuries, job losses and many other personal events,” the release said.
As the 2020-21 ski season came to a close, Epic Pass holders began reaching out to the Summit Daily News to complain that they still had not received the refunds that they were due.
So, has there been any progress?
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Following an article on the subject this spring, several people reached out to the Summit Daily sharing their own frustration about not receiving refunds. When contacted again in August, several of these passholders said they did end up receiving a refund, but many noted the process was lengthy and burdensome.
“I just persevered; I would not give up. Every time they would deny my claim I would go back,” said Bruce Waterson, a Rhode Island resident who said his claim for a refund was denied at least 12 times. “I pleaded with the people at Epic Pass — not at (American Claims Management), the insurance company — to let me speak to a supervisor, and every time I would ask that question they would transfer me to ACM. You’d get to ACM, it would go to a voicemail and the voicemail box would be full.”
Waterson said he believes what helped him eventually get his refund was trying to contact Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, via email and Twitter. He said he tweeted about his frustrations one day, tagging Katz, and that night he got an email from American Claims Management saying his claim was approved.
However, when Waterson got the check, the refund was only for his pass and didn’t include his wife’s pass. He went through the process again, which included getting a doctor’s note, until he was fully reimbursed for both passes.
“My wife kept saying, ‘Why don’t you just give up?’” Waterson said. “… I think that was the whole point, like, ‘Let’s make this so difficult that people will give up.’”
Loryn Roberson, spokesperson for Keystone Resort, a Vail Resorts-owned mountain, said in an email that while there were some unforeseen situations, the company worked earnestly to do their best for guests.
“Our dedicated team set up to administer Epic Coverage worked diligently to ensure that every submitted refund request was evaluated per the Terms and Conditions of Epic Coverage. We thank our guests for their patience. All pass holders who met the qualifications for a refund, including for resort closure or a personal event, have now been contacted,” Roberson wrote in an email.
Roberson declined to clarify whether this means all passholders who qualified had been offered a refund or that they had simply been reached out to.
“As it relates to next season, all passes will come with Epic Coverage included at no additional cost — which is designed to provide refunds for personal situations such as job loss, injury and illness — as well as refunds for certain resort closures, including those due to COVID-19,” Roberson added.
In a Facebook post in the group Epic Pass Holders, passholders commented on whether they were successful in receiving the refunds they claimed. There was a mix of responses: Some said they received a refund without issue, some said they received a partial refund and others said they did not receive one at all.
Similar to Waterson, Peter Lederer said he received a refund after several months. He said he was frustrated with the process and called the experience “unprofessional.” Lederer said he originally called the phone number given for requesting a refund and was told to find information online, where he filled out his claim form. When he didn’t hear anything, he continued to call.
“I called back a dozen times — at least — referring each time to the form I filled out,” Lederer said. “They each time verified that they had received the form and each time said that there’s been no resolution.”
Lederer said he eventually called Vail Resorts’ corporate headquarters and got a call back. He was told his claim form was incomplete and that he needed to attach a doctor’s note. Lederer did so and was given a refund. In all, Lederer’s process for receiving a refund took three months.
While some received a refund and others did not, the recurring complaint of passholders was with the cumbersome procedure. Jessica Murphy, a passholder who filed a claim for a refund for her unused pass in December and received a denial in May, said she felt the process was made “as difficult as possible.”
“The bottom line is it didn’t have to be that way,” Murphy said.