Snowsports fans with season passes to Scotland’s ski resorts have been told they must wait until the end of the season to discover whether refunds are eligible following the Covid lockdown.
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain has called on refunds to be made immediately following complaints by customers at Cairngorm Mountain, where 850 season passes have been supplied.
He said: “Season lift passes that were taken out in good faith should now be refunded.
“It is vital that Cairngorm Mountain looks after its customers for the long-term benefit of the business.”
However, Ski Scotland group chairman Andy Meldrum, of Glencoe Mountain resort, said: “Our terms and conditions reflect that there is no refund offered on the season pass during a normal winter.
“Our customers understand that they will win some years and lose some years but generally buy because of the convenience and to support the ski centre.
“Many seasons we don’t open until mid-January due to lack of snow (latest ever opening was 19th Feb).
“So [there is] still a lot of life left in this ski season. As long as we actually manage to open again at some point no refunds will be given.”
He added: “If the Scottish Government keeps us closed for the whole season then likely that we will have to provide some sort of compensation.
“[The] best option would be to allow the season pass to transfer to next winter but also aware in this worst case scenarios refunds may also have to be given.
“However these would not be done until the end of the season. With three-and-a-half months of the ski season still left to run (our normal closing date is early May) we certainly aren’t thinking about refunds or transfers at this stage.”
Susan Smith, interim chief executive of Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland), said: “All our staff had worked incredibly hard last year to prepare for a great season of snowsports at Cairngorm.
“It’s been a huge disappointment that we had to close early, particularly when there’s been so much snowfall.
“Refunds will be offered to everyone who bought a season pass for Cairngorm Mountain this winter, although the exact value will depend on how long we need to remain closed.
“We’ve used our website and social media channels to keep customers updated on the current position and we’ll ensure everyone is treated fairly.”
She added: “Demand for season passes this year was well up from 2019, showing that Cairngorm’s popularity is rising again, which is fantastic.
“We capped the number we issued at just over 850 as the funicular remains out of action at present, but we could easily have sold many, many more than that.”
At Nevis Range Mountain Experience, chief executive officer Chris O’Brien, said: “We have offered full refunds for anyone who has bought a season ticket or the offer to transfer to next year.
“In addition to this, many of our customers have loyalty bonuses for buying season tickets every year. We have let all of our customers know that anyone not buying a season ticket for this season will not have their loyalty bonuses affected in season 21/22.”
Cairngorm Mountain customer Rory Gunn said: “I purchased season tickets for my family, prior to this season, and due to the Covid restrictions closing these down, I’ve asked and been denied, a refund.
“This request is not just for my own benefit – I presume many other season ticket holders are in a similar situation.
“It is essentially centred around there not being a product available seeing as they closed the centre prior to Christmas.
“It is very poor form for a business to refuse a refund of any description if you have purchased something and either don’t receive it or it is faulty.
“[I] have been met with a standard response, which has been that they will review their refund policy and get back in touch with customers in due course.”