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Boy, DMR/Purgatory opened a can of worms

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
At the risk of losing my pass :

Durango Mountain Resort pulls critic's pass


Check out the comments after the article.

We need a big snow fast to ease the tension.
post #2 of 32
 So this wasn't a Comp pass at all? First of all, that's BS, Second, you guys have cheap passes. 
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Full season passes are $859, but of you buy between the end of one season and Fall, there is discount.

The number of weekdays were being reduced which cut into her available ski day options as well as some of her friends.

Edit: fact correction
Edited by Alpinord - 11/19/09 at 4:12pm
post #4 of 32
Thread Starter 
Here's DMR's response.

As DMR goes, so goes Durango and visa versa?

The article yesterday definitely touched off some long and deep frustrations in how the local feels treated by the area and the symbiotic relationship. You can get better deals for DMR in Albuquerque than Durango....as long as you are not from Durango. If these deals bring more tourists and dollars to the overall economy, there is indirect benefit. The 'boycotting' could affect both if it really does get substantial.....or not????

The comments after the article are diverse and heated. But you've got to laugh at the bumper sticker idea one guy posted:

Dumb and DMR

I'd prefer to be back in Purgatory.

A big storm and making turns will surely reduce the angst.
Edited by Alpinord - 11/20/09 at 8:36am
post #5 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post

Here's DMR's response.

Sounds like she was a difficult customer and that management was tired of dealing with her.  I can understand the desire to just get her out of the management's hair, and offering a full refund to go away is entirely reasonable. 

That said, unilaterally canceling her season pass is the act of an officious douchbag who's drunk on his own power over others.  should issue a public apology and offer to reinstate her pass. 
post #6 of 32
 She was unhappy with the operation.  They are just trying to give her a chance to find a place where she is more happy. 
post #7 of 32
I happen to be a friend of Lauren's and this is outrageous! All she did was question what DMR's operating schedule would be this season and when they wouldn't  give her a clear answer, she went to the newspaper. Gary Derck decided to make an example of her to show the rest of us what would happen if we complained. His claim that they can only be open on weekends so that can make snow during the week is ludicrous. In the past, while there was limited terrain, the resort was still open seven days a week. The other thing is , if DMR was going to limit their operating schedule, they should have announced it BEFORE they sold season passes. I hope that DMR is not going to get away with this, please write to DMR and express your indignation and demand Gary Derck's resignation.
post #8 of 32
Thread Starter 
It has always been gray this time of year through and after Christmas as to whether or not there would be enough snow. It's tough to predict and fair weather is an enemy, but good for other activities. Snow making costs money (and burns natural resources, FWIW) and may not be possible when we all want it to happen.

It has never ceased to amaze me over the 30 plus years of living in Colorado, that many cannot wait to get on skis in the early season when the snow sucks to ski on crowded ribbons of death and then the areas have to close down in the spring with tons of quality snow around due to lack of demand. The demand seems to be two months out of sync with mother nature which create economic tug and pulls on each end of the season. In this economy, there is less of a slop factor and things are tight for everyone.

Check out my 'First Turn' thread. There is plenty of snow around, you just have to drive 20 minutes further than Purg, err....DMR and work a little harder. It was peaceful, gorgeous and did not require a pass, a corporation or a schedule. On the way down from Coal Bank, all the runs at DMR were thinly covered and it'll be a while (or one more good storm) before it's all worthwhile.

Besides there are tons of other recreational opportunities around the area when the snow just isn't that great (and even if it is). For instance, the word from Wolf Creek was 'fabulous', and with hunting season over, hiking or riding is great right now. Personally, I really like all of the choices we do have.

I do hope DMR gives Lauren her pass back and improves their communication regarding dates and what not.
Edited by Alpinord - 11/20/09 at 10:07am
post #9 of 32

"Dumb and DMR" bumper sticker ->

Hesperus? I'd never heard of that one. Their web site hasn't been updated in a while. Are they still open?

 

BTW - it would be sad for employees or pass holders to lose jobs or privileges over forum posts. If you're an employee "telling the truth" can also be "airing dirty laundry". That's something employees are not supposed to do. If you have any suspicion that a post might cause you trouble, that's a hint to not post it. Either reword it to be "cleaner" or hold your tongue. Alpinord has set a good example of posting a clean link with no "dirty laundry" airing and followed up with the link to the other side of the story. Well done!

FYI - The original article that started all of the fuss is here.

In the case of the pass holder Slaff, the most descriptive comment about this was that she "was fired as a customer". Within the context of this one issue, it's easy to come to the conclusion that DMR over reacted. However, it's also pretty easy to conclude that DMR had previously provided to Ms. Slaff an explanation that their decision was not "catering to  tourists at the expense of locals". Although her quotes in the original article are clearly recognizable as opinions and clearly "countered" by quotes from DMR, it's easy to see how this could have caused a domino effect of damage control efforts for DMR. This would have been particularly frustrating to DMR if Ms. Slaff had been told and provided evidence that the opinions were not accurate. If this situation is put into the context of a history of similar situations, it becomes much easier to justify firing a customer. I'm not saying that this was the right way to handle this. I'm saying it's easy to understand why a resort would choose to do this. A chronic unreasonable complainer could easily cost more than $500/year. In situations like these, options for how to proceed can seem like "damned if you do and damned if you don't" choices.

If you've worked for a resort, you've undoubtedly experienced a closure in between opening and closing day. It's quite common throughout the industry to close during mid week when snow (and sometimes weather) conditions are marginal. Most of those times, a resort could open mid week. But there are a lot of factors that go into deciding whether the resort should stay open or not. When considering the downsides of not staying open, it's not unreasonable for management to assume that most of the mid week pass holders would be able to ski on the weekend. DMR's decision to let mid week pass holders ski on weekends when the resort is closed mid week shows that they've made an effort to come up with a "best possible" policy.

Whenever a resort attempts to make a decision or set a policy in the best interests of the majority of their guests they will inevitably make decisions that are not in the best interests of a minority of their guests. Skilled management will find ways to do this that minimize the anger these decisions generate, but this often requires time and communication skills that may not be available. Thus we get what we have here .... "Failure to Communicate"

post #10 of 32
Snowdancer, seems from the "response" article, weekday passes are good on weekends when the weekdays are closed.

And that sounds like pretty common pratice around here in the northeast. Weekday passes are good for weekdays AND weekend on early and late season (when there's ONLY weekend operation).
 
Now I understand there maybe some pass holder who work weekends and can't use the pass on weekends at all. Perhaps that issue should be addressed either in advance or on an individual bases.

I'm not sure how pratical it is to carve in stone the operating schedule 6 months before the first snow flake of the season...
post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

I'm not sure how pratical it is to carve in stone the operating schedule 6 months before the first snow flake of the season...

Of course ski area management can't predict the weather, but management can announce major changes to their operation schedule before season passes go on sale.  From what I understand, this is a major change from previous years.  Pass holders should have been informed in advance of the change.

The fact remains that the resort makes more money off the tourists than the locals, and if it's not cost effective to open during the week for just the locals then they either have to charge more for season passes, close midweek, or agree to subsidize the locals out of the kindness of their hearts and their love of the sport.  Option 3 might be laudable, but it's probably not smart business.

So I can understand why  the resort changed it's operations schedule.  I can also understand why locals who bought passes without knowing about the change would be upset.  It sounds like the manager didn't handle it well and just doesn't know how to do PR - firing customers who complain is dumb. The right way to handle this is to tell her "I'm sorry, but it doesn't look like we can make you happy here.  We'll be happy to give you a full refund."  and then refuse to waste any more time dealing with her.  Revoking her pass just makes the resort look like A holes.
post #12 of 32

You know that if the resort commits to dates and the weather does not cooperate, they'll get dinged for not keeping their commitments. If the weather over cooperates and they don't change their plans and open more than they committed, they'll get dinged for that. But if the weather over cooperates and they do change their plans, they'll get dinged for making bad plans. The longer they wait to announce plans, the better those plans will match with the weather, but the more they'll get dinged for not announcing their plans early enough. This is the kind of thing that is a no-win situation for the resort.

 

Lauren had every right to complain when DMR changed their policy after she bought her pass. If she didn't like the explanation she was given, she had an opportunity to get a refund and take her business elsewhere. Most of her comments in the original article were perfectly ok. But "it is another example of DMR catering to tourists at the expense of locals" was inflammatory. It's hard to imagine anything positive resulting from such a statement. It's easy to imagine DMR seeing this statement and coming to a conclusion that this is a guest who would never be satisified. Did she actually think complaining to the paper would get DMR to change their plans? Did she expect that stirring up a locals vs DMR controversy would make things better? Sorry dear. You stepped on an awkward hornet and it stung you because it did not know what else to do.

BTW - "Last season, DMR shutdown Lift 5 on Monday through Thursday, even though the expert terrain below it was perfectly skiable," If you have not seen this happen at other resorts, you have not skied very much. Resorts do things like this because they are the lesser of two evils. I've worked for a resort that did not spend its money wisely. The results aren't pretty.

DMR is an awkward position where they need to "make a statement" to heal relations with the local community. But finding a statement that "saves face" for all involved will be difficult. If they were accurate in their assessment that Lauren is a "chronic complainer" customer that costs them more than she's worth their options are:
a) stick to their guns, claim that their position is best for all, make some token concession to locals and accepting the wrath of the community
b) apologize, admit the mistakes were all on their part, reinstating the pass (with permission), revert to the previous operating schedule and hoping that escaping the wrath of the community makes up for the loss of keeping her as a customer
c) apologize, claim that mistakes were made on both sides and accept her back as a customer, with conditions (e.g. the understanding that her complaints need to be more reasonable and not argued in public)

In hindsight, it might have been smarter for DMR to offer to let her ski at the resort on closed week days on a limited basis (yes of course this is "impossible") as a compromise (e.g. look, the experience will be below our standards, but if you insist, here's what we can do for you), then keep the option to refuse to accept her money next season. Sometimes customers do need to be fired. If you're going to do it, you better do it right.

Snowdancer - want to help your friemd? Convince her to get a job at a resort.

post #13 of 32

Something similar happend last season at Sugarloaf.  A guy got his season pass pulled for internet postings.  Sugarloaf management looked pretty silly until cooler heads prevailed and the guy's pass was reinstated.

One would think DMR would have been aware of this kerfuffle before yanking a pass over public comments / criticism.  It's management 101.

See
http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/80597/please-make-your-disgust-known-sugarloaf-and-its-corporate-parent-boyne
post #14 of 32

Actually, "firing" a customer isn't the same as firing an employeee.

Employee work (mostly) "at will" and get paid for their work. Customer PAY first and expect service in return.

The latter is basically a business contract, which can't be simply torn up by one side of the contract (even with "full" refund). If the customer had other expense that are based on the contract, they can sue to get their demage paid for.

So to desolve the contract, it needs to be agreed on by BOTH sides. DRM is perfectly within its right to OFFER the refund to get rid of her. (she doesn't have to automaitcally accept that offer) By revoking her pass without her agreeing to it in advance, DMR basically torn up the contract unilaterally.

Any business who torn up their side of the contract unilaterally should be looked at harshly. Next time, it might be YOU who got stuffed.

post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
The right way to handle this is to tell her "I'm sorry, but it doesn't look like we can make you happy here.  We'll be happy to give you a full refund."  and then refuse to waste any more time dealing with her.  Revoking her pass just makes the resort look like A holes.
 
That's what they did. Then she went to the local paper and (cough) "caused confusion" when she said "caters to tourists". What they did after that looks exactly like "refusing to waste any more time with her" to me. If one of my customers unjustly (in my opinion) beats me up in public, I'd be real tempted to try to cut my losses too. I would not have refunded her pass, but I'd have had no problem with not letting her get a pass for next year. 
post #16 of 32
No, that's not what they did.  They revoked her pass without giving her the option of keeping it.

There's a big difference between giving her the option to continue to ski there (on their terms, of course) and not giving her that option.  As different as "your choice" and "no choice".
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowdancer View Post

I happen to be a friend of Lauren's and this is outrageous! All she did was question what DMR's operating schedule would be this season and when they wouldn't  give her a clear answer, she went to the newspaper. Gary Derck decided to make an example of her to show the rest of us what would happen if we complained. His claim that they can only be open on weekends so that can make snow during the week is ludicrous. In the past, while there was limited terrain, the resort was still open seven days a week. The other thing is , if DMR was going to limit their operating schedule, they should have announced it BEFORE they sold season passes. I hope that DMR is not going to get away with this, please write to DMR and express your indignation and demand Gary Derck's resignation.
I expect that the resort changed the policy because, when the conditions are not sufficient to draw enough ticket buyers, it isn't financially viable to operate.

Our mountain has long had exactly the early season schedule that DMR has adopted, with the exception, that regardless of great coverage early on, they don't go to full week operation until the week of Christmas. I'm OK with this, because I understand that they don't operate the mountain to lose money.

The woman who lost her pass sounds like she has an irrational sense of entitlement just because she had a pass for a couple years, and tried to affect ski area policy by frequently complaining. If I ran a ski area, I would find it tiresome if the same person was constantly complaining and then spurred a slanted attack piece in the local news.

I don't excuse the response by the ski area, it was heavy handed, they should have offered her a refund before effecting it.  I do, however believe our area's owners would likely have a similar response, they don't like it when the locals' sense of entitlement encroaches on their sovereignty.Would you?

I complain about my ski area's dysfunctions often enough, but I don't seek to use media exposure to exert pressure to change policy. I live with it, I'm there to ski, not to set policy.
post #18 of 32
 If you don't like Purgatory, you can go to Hell.
post #19 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post

 If you don't like Purgatory, you can go to Hell.

They shouldn't have changed name!  ;)
post #20 of 32
Slaff got pwned
post #21 of 32


That's some powerful fail mojo on dispaly in this thread. The CEOs OP/Ed was like reading dilbert. Could they be any more reactionary?
Edited by tromano - 11/20/09 at 10:55pm
post #22 of 32
There are a few facts that were left out of this story. A letter was sent to employees stating that DMR would be closed weekdays in March REGARDLESS of snow conditions. DMR management has been elusive about their operating schedule and refuses to even discuss it. As a former employee of 11 years ( I resigned because of the terrible way they treat employees) I can tell you that they have NEVER only opened on weekends. There have been years when we skied on man made snow well into Jan. Limited terrain, yes, but still open 7 days a week. DMR has been 'downsizing" the ski area for many years now, cutting staff, taking away employee benefits, last season they wouldn't even turn the heat on in the lunch room at Dantes. I could go on but the point is that DMR knows they are the only game in town and if you don't like it, drive 3 hours or go back country. Customers have a right to complain and no matter how annoying they can be, that's what you sign on for when you operate a SERVICE business. Most business suffering from a poor economy offer incentives to increase their customer base. DMR has done nothing with this move but give themselves a lot of bad PR and drive people elsewhere. I do intend to ski there this winter, but you can bet I won't spend a nickel on the mountain. There are other  businesses that are friendly to locals, they'll get my beer money!
post #23 of 32
Heh, in March our mountain starts eliminating weekdays, first to go is Tuesday, then Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then it's down to Friday through Sunday.for how ever long they stay in April.

I expect I'd be miffed if they announced changes after I bought my pass, that is a reasonable complaint, but a business scaling back on operations that are unprofitable in the spring is understandable. These aren't financially stable times, it seems DMR is taking in sail.

I find it ridiculous that anyone is outraged that DMR hasn't announced operating days for the end of the season, there is no guarantee that there will be snow then. Conditions and ticket sales are what drive spring operations, and quite often the people who complain about operating days at the beginning of the season are no where to be found come March, it happens all over the country every year.
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by volantaddict View Post

I find it ridiculous that anyone is outraged that DMR hasn't announced operating days for the end of the season, there is no guarantee that there will be snow then. Conditions and ticket sales are what drive spring operations, and quite often the people who complain about operating days at the beginning of the season are no where to be found come March, it happens all over the country every year.
 
Ticket sales, yes. Snow? In Colorado??? Even in the southern part of there's still a lot of snow left over that takes time to melt away.

March is actually high season in much of the country. It's collage spring break time. Closing mid-week in March will guarantee there would NOT be any tourist/collage group planning any trip there. I suppose that's not part of DMR's business?
post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post

 If you don't like Purgatory, you can go to Hell.


post #26 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowdancer View Post

There are a few facts that were left out of this story. A letter was sent to employees stating that DMR would be closed weekdays in March REGARDLESS of snow conditions. DMR management has been elusive about their operating schedule and refuses to even discuss it. As a former employee of 11 years ( I resigned because of the terrible way they treat employees) I can tell you that they have NEVER only opened on weekends. There have been years when we skied on man made snow well into Jan. Limited terrain, yes, but still open 7 days a week. DMR has been 'downsizing" the ski area for many years now, cutting staff, taking away employee benefits, last season they wouldn't even turn the heat on in the lunch room at Dantes. I could go on but the point is that DMR knows they are the only game in town and if you don't like it, drive 3 hours or go back country. Customers have a right to complain and no matter how annoying they can be, that's what you sign on for when you operate a SERVICE business. Most business suffering from a poor economy offer incentives to increase their customer base. DMR has done nothing with this move but give themselves a lot of bad PR and drive people elsewhere. I do intend to ski there this winter, but you can bet I won't spend a nickel on the mountain. There are other  businesses that are friendly to locals, they'll get my beer money!

Being non-committal as to the beginning of the season is normal and of late, the spring seems to be getting more and more unpredictable relative to snowpack and customers. I was on the fence about getting the weekday versus the full season pass and ended up with the full, but this letter is disturbing for sure. This also affects my business as well as limits choice and convenience. In March, people are getting on their bikes, golfing and playing tennis, etc, while the kid's spring sports are ramping up.

Following is the area snowpack chart, where typically you can bank on late season snowpack and frequently March storms can be very substantial.




Glad I also have a Telluride multi-day pass. March skiing is typically sweet and looks like DMR has brought us back to Purgatory and in Limbo (which is not unusual).

The REI in Albuquerque was hopping due to the DMR 4-pack deal. So the 'boycott' isn't universal. Unlike last year, locals could purchase lift tickets. I considered purchasing a bunch for Bears, but they were non-transferable passes. Apparently, you had to assign a name to them in advance.

An irony is that the parking keeps getting reduced and it is not unusual to not find any parking at the area weekends and holidays. Seems like a poor business plan to limit customers access to your product......but the real product is real estate, not skiing or snowboarding.
Edited by Alpinord - 11/23/09 at 7:21am
post #27 of 32
Interesting how 2007-2008 started off weak and built up to above average. Also somewhat interesting to me how 3 of the last 4 years were below average.

Looking forward to skiing DMR 3 days on my way to/from Telluride. Late February is when I'm shooting to get up there.

Have they given that gal her pass back yet?
post #28 of 32
Thread Starter 
Oops. The chart is 'snow water equivalent' (not snowpack) which later translates to river flows and reservoir levels. I can't remember values but I think somewhere around 12 to 15% is water/fresh snow (????) which would translate to multiply the chart values by 6 to 8 times or so for actual snow depths and less for consolidated/wetter snows.

Haven't heard anything officially, but there is a local buzz which is fading at the moment and here's the Durango Herald's 'DMR Fuss' editorial. It sure sounds like the paper is backing off of their 'role' in definitely stirring the pot on this issue, which strikes me as lame, but I think they all (local businesses) want this to go away as a controversy. (Plus everyone is off on Thanksgiving trips, etc.)

Sounds like the paper was asking around about 'contract' issues of DMR revoking Lauren's pass.

((AND!! FLC IS GOING TO THE NCAA DIV II FINAL FOUR SOCCER TOURNEY IN TAMPA!! Which is more important and cool anyways. They're great to watch and at a personal level, I've known the goalie since he was around 2 years old.))

Give a shout when you head up.....just don't plan on a weekday.
post #29 of 32
Thread Starter 
Life is good:

The Fort Lewis Men's soccer team are again national champions! It was great game to watch. Way to go team!

It's dumping and more is on the way!

However,:

from DMR's site:

"PURG REOPENS FRIDAY
Get ready for some action on the slopes. If the forecasts hold true, Purg could see several feet of snow this week. We'll be closed until Friday to allow our crews to make more snow and handle what mother nature dishes out, all with an eye toward starting daily operations. Keep your fingers crossed!"

&

    *  Wait until Friday
    * there should be plenty!

We don't wanna wait until Friday!!!!

Judging by the runs around the one of 6" of fluff yesterday on rolled man-made, there certainly needs a lot more snow to cover and of course all of the tasks involved to get the other runs and lifts open......but by my calculations, Wednesday could very well be an excellent powder day to pay hooky and enjoy what we've been waiting for and did not have all that much of last year!!!


(Good thing I have XC and BC weapons, just in case.....)
post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowdancer View Post

I happen to be a friend of Lauren's and this is outrageous! All she did was question what DMR's operating schedule would be this season and when they wouldn't  give her a clear answer, she went to the newspaper. Gary Derck decided to make an example of her to show the rest of us what would happen if we complained. His claim that they can only be open on weekends so that can make snow during the week is ludicrous. In the past, while there was limited terrain, the resort was still open seven days a week. The other thing is , if DMR was going to limit their operating schedule, they should have announced it BEFORE they sold season passes. I hope that DMR is not going to get away with this, please write to DMR and express your indignation and demand Gary Derck's resignation.
 

No way, that is AWESOME CUSTOMER SERVICE!!  Sell a lift pass for 7 days a week, then after the person has bought it, make the resort only open 2 days a week!!  I would be so stoked!!  Don't worry that it is false advertising, offering it for $X for 7 days a week then after the person has bought it reduce what the person gets to only 2 days a week.
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