Tahoe ski resort glitch allows season passes to be sold for $1 (updated) | SierraSun.com

Tahoe ski resort glitch allows season passes to be sold for $1 (updated)

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Whether you live at Lake Tahoe or visit here, buying a season pass in the fall at your favorite ski resort comes as sort of a rite of passage.

For many, it's a hefty haul, spending several hundreds of dollars — but the rewards of slashing powder at the mecca of skiing and snowboarding in the West is often worth the expense.

So imagine waking up to a friend's excited text message letting you know that you can get a season pass at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows — arguably the best skiable mountains in the Truckee-Tahoe region — for a whopping $1.

That's essentially what happened to Newport, Calif., resident Travis Warner Wednesday morning.

"One of my co-workers lives up at Tahoe, and her brother … logged into (Squaw's website) to spend the $800 or so on a Gold Pass, and he saw it was for $1," Warner, 29, said Thursday. "He was like, 'Holy crap! It's only a dollar!' So everyone at our construction site, all 10 of us, bought one."

Warner, who snowboards regularly at Mammoth and Bear Lake resorts, among others, wasn't the only one who saw a good deal.

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Jessica Perez, an Incline Village resident, said she saw the same thing, and, "like any other incredible opportunity that comes my way," bought two Gold Tahoe Super passes — each valued at $809 — for $2 Wednesday morning.

Apparently, it was a snafu on behalf of Squaw's technology, as Warner, Perez and others received an email from the resort, explaining the issue as a "glitch" that occurred between roughly midnight and 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"This error made it appear as if you could purchase a Tahoe Super Pass for just $1 or even at no cost — (wow, as you know that would have been too good to be true!)," a portion of the email reads. "During that timeframe we see that you attempted to purchase a Tahoe Super Pass but this was based on a mistake and, as such, we will be voiding/refunding that transaction by the end of the day tomorrow, Thursday, October 2, 2014."

Warner takes issue with that reaction from the privately owned ski area, considering he did not "attempt to purchase" a pass — rather, he did for $1, and he received a confirmation email saying so.

"That's for a lot of people, too. There was no attempt — we successfully purchased these tickets," he said.

Perez shared a similar view, saying Squaw should "do what is right" and honor the advertised $1 price

"My concern is that Squaw will quickly brush their mistake under the rug with little to no negative impact on their brand loyalty from other customers," she said.

In a Thursday statement, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows said the "transactions processed automatically at the erroneous price are void and refunds are being issued by the end of today, Thursday, October 2.

"In recognition of our mistake, we will offer these customers a special discounted rate on the Tahoe Super Pass. These customers can expect this special discounted offer in their email within the next several days," the resort added.

When asked Thursday how many is "a small number," resort spokeswoman Melissa Brouse said because Squaw is a privately owned company, "sales numbers are not released to the public."

Brouse also said the discounted rate "is not a publicly available offer."

Perez's boyfriend, Nick Cahill, blogged about his experience Wednesday through his cahillfilms.com website calling it the "deal of a lifetime."

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READ MORE: Click here to read Cahill's blog post.

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In his blog, he said he drove to Squaw's offices Wednesday to pick up his pass, and that someone had even "just picked up their physical pass with the same deal as well."

"From a business standpoint, I know they need to make the right decision … but I think the most important thing is they need to make a decision that affects their business in the best way," Cahill added in a Thursday phone interview. "For a business as big as Squaw, I think they can bite the bullet on this, and really make the area be happy with Squaw, instead of being unhappy with Squaw."

Perez likened the situation to the United Airlines' computer glitch on Sept. 12, 2013, that allowed some customers to book flights for $0 and only pay about $10 total after taxes. Others reportedly got their tickets for $5 or $10 each, paying only the Sept. 11 security fee.

The airline honored the sales that went through, issuing the following statement on Sept. 13, 2013, via Twitter: "We've reviewed the error that occurred yesterday and based on these specific circumstances, we will honor the tickets."

According to the Associated Press, United didn't reveal how many tickets were at stake or how much they were worth.

"I don't believe that granting the … passes will significantly impact (Squaw's) bottom line revenue considering most of these folks will spend money when they're at the resort since they can justify their spending with, 'I only paid $1 for this pass,'" Perez said. "… If Squaw honored it, I would likely spend close to $500 throughout the season on food, merchandise, cocktails, etc."

Warner said "it will be interesting how it all plays out."

"We generally come up once a year for New Year's Eve and get a day in," he said, before adding with a chuckle: "If this pass does go through, obviously we'll be up there a bunch."

Statement from Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows

— The following statement was emailed to the Sierra Sun from Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows at 1:15 p.m. Thursday:

“Early yesterday morning (October 1, 2014), between midnight and 9 a.m., a programming error in Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadow’s estore mistakenly allowed a small number of individuals to attempt to purchase season passes for $1 or even $0. The erroneous pricing was corrected shortly after we were made aware of the glitch and purchases are now being made seamlessly. Transactions processed automatically at the erroneous price are void and refunds are being issued by the end of today, Thursday, October 2. In recognition of our mistake, we will offer these customers a special discounted rate on the Tahoe Super Pass. These customers can expect this special discounted offer in their email within the next several days.”