A chairlift sits idle at Stevens Pass on Dec. 30. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

A chairlift sits idle at Stevens Pass on Dec. 30. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

A blizzard of Stevens Pass complaints hits the AG’s office

The ski resort’s new manager says he’s working to address frustrations about lines and closures.

OLYMPIA — Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is requesting input from skiers and snowboarders who have been affected by hangups at Stevens Pass ski resort this season.

In the past two months, Ferguson’s office has received more than 80 complaints about the resort on U.S. 2 near Skykomish.

“This is a significant number of complaints in a short period of time. If you have been impacted, or have information, I’m asking that you file a complaint with my office,” he wrote in a tweet.

The appeal to consumers comes amid widespread concerns about limited operations at Stevens Pass this winter due to understaffing. Those frustrations erupted last month, when roughly half of the mountain remained closed through the holidays. Season pass holders have also complained about parking troubles, long lift lines and limited food and lodging options.

“We are aware of pass holder complaints being filed with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, and will work with all parties as appropriate,” Vail Resorts spokesperson Sara Roston said in an email on Friday.

Vail, the ski conglomerate that owns Stevens Pass, replaced the resort’s general manager last week in a bid to address the problems. Interim General Manager Tom Fortune, a lifelong skier of the pass, has pledged to “work towards getting the mountain open as quickly and safely as possible.”

Ferguson’s office is responsible for enforcing state consumer protection laws and can take legal action against businesses for deceptive dealings and unfair practices. In such cases, the attorney general can impose civil penalties against violators or seek refunds for customers who fell victim.

Complaints filed with Ferguson’s office also are evaluated to determine whether they can be resolved informally, without litigation.

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, priced from about $500 to $1,000, offers a range of options for seasonal access to Stevens Pass and dozens of other Vail-owned ski areas across North America.

People continue to add their names to an online petition, started in late December, that accuses the company of underpaying employees and deceiving consumers. As of 1 p.m. on Friday, the Change.org petition had more than 42,000 signatures.

Some consumer protection attorneys have said customers might be able to argue in court that the company violated consumer protection laws by charging high prices for resort access and then not fully delivering on that promise. However, the Epic Pass purchase agreement includes provisions that bar patrons from suing the company based on their resort experience.

In a Wednesday blog post, Fortune said the resort has already made a few “subtle” operational improvements and is focusing on opening the backside of the mountain.

“We’re reworking current plans to determine a path towards this, and hope to do so within two weeks,” he wrote. “This isn’t guaranteed, but we want to be transparent that we are working against this projected timeline.”

The resort is also recruiting more staff for the season.

“We have created a specific hiring plan for lift operations that has been implemented and I am happy to say that we’ve brought on several new people in just the last 48 hours,” Fortune wrote.

He plans to continue posting regular updates to social media to share information about openings and other steps that the resort is taking to improve the employee and customer experience.

“It’s not lost on me how high expectations are, but please know that I am listening … and so is our company,” Fortune said in the post. “We want Stevens Pass to be the mountain that you love and have pride in.”

Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; rriley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

Pride flag vandalism raises concerns on Whidbey Island

Reports of theft involving LGBTQ+ pride-themed displays have increased around South Whidbey.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

An emergency overdose kit with naloxone located next to an emergency defibrillator at Mountain View student housing at Everett Community College on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
As deadly overdoses decline, Snohomish County builds on what’s working

Opioid-related deaths have decreased 20% compared to this time last year. Local health officials say there’s “still much work to do.”

Police blocked off southbound I-5 near Marine View Drive in Everett after an “incident” blocked the roadway on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
None injured in shooting that closed I-5 south in Everett

The shooting shut down traffic on the freeway Wednesday near Marine View Drive, causing a major backup.

Edmonds City Council members answer questions during an Edmonds City Council Town Hall on Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds begins process to join South County Fire

To avoid a lapse in services, the city will likely come to voters in April asking for their final approval.

A man led police on a high speed chase through north Snohomish County on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)
New public database answers Snohomish County’s pressing crime questions

Prosecutor Jason Cummings hopes the database can give a better understanding of the local criminal justice system.

PUD employee Kyle Tucker opens part of the breaker system at the Jennings Park Substation in Marysville, Washington on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
With eye on growing county, PUD replaces aging Marysville substation

The $8.4 million project north of Jennings Park is expected to be finished in October. It’s one part of a 10-year PUD plan.