Vail Daily letter: Gift card issue
Vail, CO, Colorado
Unknown to many, Vail Resorts owns the Burton, Patagonia and North Face ski shops in Vail and Lionshead, and probably also owns similar shops in its other resorts. In all outward appearances, these operations appear to be Burton, Patagonia and North Face stores because that is the only signage and there is nothing to indicate that these are actually Vail Resort stores.
Customers enter thinking that they are going to a true Burton, Patagonia or North Face store, but will find out they are not if they try to use Burton, Patagonia or North Face gift cards because Vail Resorts refuses to honor those cards.
In our case, we were trying to purchase a Burton snowboard and boots, only to be told that the Christmas Burton gift card we had was no good in their store.
In other words, Vail Resorts is trading on these brand names to get customers in the stores and sell the merchandise, but treats the transactions as only a Vail Resort sale. When the managers are confronted with the fact that they are running a “bait and switch” type of operation, they apologize but state that is just the way it is.
Aside from the ill will generated by this practice, it is very short sighted because it undercuts Vail’s continuing efforts to become the No. 1 resort. All the good efforts on the mountain are wiped out by this senseless and misleading policy. They certainly lost our vote today.
There is no way to know how frequently these incidents occur, but in the course of dealing with our “problem” we found out that other similar incidents have occurred in the past. Given Vail Resort’s policy, it will no doubt happen in the future.
To be sure, the manufacturers are complicit in this, but that doesn’t excuse what Vail Resorts is doing.
What is so ridiculous is that at the end of the day, whether bought with a gift card or personal funds, both Vail Resorts and Burton are getting paid for the product.
If Vail Resorts is going to continue to take advantage of advertising these operations as manufacturer stores, it needs to run them that way, including honoring gift cards and returns of merchandise.
Until Vail Resorts gets it right, customers need to know all is not what it appears.