Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 99
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,928

    Why are AK heli operators not refunding money or giving credit for future trips

    I have two separate friends dealing with two different operators who won’t refund nor issue full credit for future trips. Silverton and Majestic are the two.

    Both groups were supposed to be in Ak this week.

    If you travel to AK now, you have to quarantine for 14 days. Plus I believe the state mandated all heli ops close due to non essential business.

    Seems pretty unfair and even unethical. The customer has no choice but not to fly.

    The letter majestic sent out is cryptic, saying they want to do what is fair for everyone. Well I think what is fair is offer a future credit or full refund. They said they are consulting their investors and the SBA.

    But after receiving that letter I would probably demand a refund or do a change back on my credit card. Who would want to do business with them after they aren’t offering full refunds or credit.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Valley of the Sun
    Posts
    4,537
    Just commenting on the ethics in question. Credit makes sense. AK isn't going anywhere next year, or the year after that. If the customer has a legit reason why scheduling a future trip isn't possible (failing health, injury, etc.) then issue a full refund, but that option should only be available for x amount of time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    truckee
    Posts
    12,740
    Given that under the state's stay at home order it appears that operating a heliski operation this week would be illegal the operator can't claim that they would fly if people showed up. This isn't a situation where you decide you don't want to go even though the trip is still happening. Your friends should be entitled to a full refund imo. Question is==do the operators have the funds to refund and can they even afford to give a lot of people credits for next year? If they go bankrupt it doesn't matter what your friends are entitled to--they won't get it.

    Maybe someone who knows about the economics of the heliski business can comment.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    on the banks of Fish Creek
    Posts
    2,518
    It's the Dean Cummings business model....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    306
    Don’t the terms usually say that if the operator cannot fly for reasons outside their control, that risk is on the customer (i.e., no refund)?

    Seems to me like it would be similar to bad weather. I assume they don’t refund if you get a bad weather window either?


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    13,714
    Was discussing this with my sister. She and Husband had a deposit down for a trip to South Africa. They were refunded with no hesitation.

    Reputation is what keeps good companies afloat. This will not help either of these companies in the long run. They should at the very least offer full credit for next season.
    Ooof!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    1,432
    "Here's a 2021 unguided pass for your troubles."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Rossland BC
    Posts
    1,211
    Individually and collectively we’re in the process of a major economic contraction, and we’re all going to have to adapt to significant loss. Most travel related businesses are going under, and in regard to relatively insignificant losses for this sort of discretionary spending, the sooner people reach acceptance move on to more critical issues, the better.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,928
    Quote Originally Posted by kootenayskier View Post
    Individually and collectively we’re in the process of a major economic contraction, and we’re all going to have to adapt to significant loss. Most travel related businesses are going under, and in regard to relatively insignificant losses for this sort of discretionary spending, the sooner people reach acceptance move on to more critical issues, the better.
    So that’s what I should have told my Airbnb guests who I gave 100% refunds to, that we are in tough times and your not getting any money back?

    Doesn’t sound very ethical

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    5,912
    Most of these operations have a clause on their website that states they don't give refunds ever, for any reason, no matter what. I personally think that's a shitty way to run a business, but it seems widespread in the backcountry skiing industry.

    The ones that are refunding trips that were cancelled due to the virus seem to be making a point of advertising that on social media. The operations that are staying quiet are probably just taking the money and running.
    I remember a bottomless freedom...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Three-O-Three
    Posts
    14,191
    That's just shitty business on their part.

    I own an adventure travel company and we had to reschedule all of our April/May/June trips to later this fall because of the current situation. We automatically re-booked the clients on the new fall trip and if for some reason that didn't work for them, we let them change their booking to any other available trip on our calendar. And as a last resort, if that didn't work (no questions asked), we refunded their booking in full. In a couple of cases, I gave the client the option to push their reservation back to 2021 if needed, too.

    So far we've been lucky in that we've only had one cancellation from all our spring trips. Everyone else has been very understanding and has been happy to re-book to the fall. My hope is that when we come out of this, people will be even more psyched to travel and get outdoors, and business will return to a somewhat-normal business.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    688
    To answer your main question - why - I think the answer is simply "they don't think they can afford to and stay afloat." Which suuuuucks. I just ate $2k on a trip I'm not going on. I actually think there's a decent legal argument, at least based on my contract, that I'm due a full refund. But it's not worth $2k to me to try and sue an operator in Norway. If it were $4k and in Alaska, then maybe. And it would depend on the terms of the contract. At least the way I see it, if the situation is "you can't get here because of travel restrictions but we can still fly," then tough shit. But if the heli operator can't fly due to the pandemic, it seems unfair to me for them to say "tough shit we're keeping your money even though we can't provide the service you hired us to provide."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dystopia
    Posts
    10,593
    Quote Originally Posted by m2711c View Post
    It's the Dean Cummings business model....
    Winning!
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
    Hunter S. Thompson

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    cordova,AK
    Posts
    2,824
    there was this post in the covid ski plan thread

    Quote Originally Posted by once/year View Post
    Emailed from Silverton Heli in AK two days ago (some personal commentary and the email cut-and-pasted below--yes I'm a "dentist" but also a ripping skier, father who loves his family and needs to be present and safe for them, and employer who is trying to figure out how to be sure that my people get paychecks for the foreseeable future. We're all in this together). Obviously the email was informed by a lawyer--Force Majeure would return all parties to their positions prior to the contract, but showing up ready to specifically perform your contract gives you at least a colorable argument to keep people's money. "Fixed costs" comments seem disingenuous, given that the biggest cost is heli fuel. I'd be happy to pay the guides, but keeping the gas money seems pretty ugly. Of course, they've got lost costs in the San Juans due to shutting down the op there. Most everyone is traveling to Anchorage via Seattle (from places like New York), and planning to eat in restaurants and stay in Anchorage hotels for obvious reasons, and leave before they might ever know they were exposed or transmitting. Also, no "trip insurance" was ever mentioned in contracts or otherwise and this is the first that its been mentioned in any context. You cannot go buy it now, though. That's not necessarily on them, its just a fact. I get that there is an existential crisis for many businesses, so there are lots of angles here for sure, including ethical ones. Got word yesterday that all British Columbia pilots were picking everyone up early from hut trips, one of which I which I was supposed to be on (very good for Americans because they may have had no outside contact for the last week or be aware that they'd be stuck in BC if they don't get back across the border by midnight tonight) I can guarantee there will be litigation, as will happen in other contexts all over the country, but especially when you're trying to keep almost ~$35k for a group of 4--the cost of Silverton Heli AK. There are interesting analogies to be made here regarding traveling in avy terrain as well. Ie, no heuristic for the situation we find ourselves in, exposure/risk for pilots, employees, clients, citizens of Anchorage and AK, and charging ahead because of economic motive or stoke. Ignoring risk is obviously dangerous in the backcountry, and exposure is now an issue of walking outside of your door. I'd love to replace the word "COVID-19" on the Slide Avalanche podcast to discuss the same principles under these circumstances. I forgot podcaster's name, but he's one of the most coldly logical thinkers I've ever heard. Also a Silverton employee if memory serves. Interesting analogy. Here's the email from Silverton Heli AK:

    Good afternoon,

    We are looking forward to your upcoming AK trip! With all the closures due to COVID-19 we wanted to be in touch and let everyone know that we are all systems go here in Alaska and many other heli ski operations are also chugging along and open.

    Tordrillo Heli, Valdez Heli Ski Guides, Points North Heli are all open and operational. We are following suit with all of these other operations to remain open and follow contract guidelines, including not offering credits or refunds. We all have fixed expenses and encourage all of our guests to purchase travel insurance in the event they are not able to join us on the trip.

    Hotel Alyeska is still open as is Alyeska Ski Resort. If that changes we have multiple base locations and lodging outlets we can utilize. Please let us know what questions you might have and we look forward to seeing you soon.

    Thanks,

    Blair
    Book with the biggest assholes in the business you get what you deserve.
    off your knees Louie

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Cruzing
    Posts
    9,826
    ^^^^Dentist... Fuck man, 2K is a lot of money.

    We spend a fair amount of money on travel. I also drive a '97 Tacoma with 365K miles on it so I can afford to travel. We creat our discretionary funds by life style choices including not upgrading to a new bike and Audi every two years. So just because someone put coin down to travel does not mean they can afford to lose it more than the operators.

    If tour businesses are operating on such a thin margin that they can afford to credit people to next season who a pandemic shuts down works travel, and state Shelter in Place orders make it so they can not operate, then those businesses should refund the money and be done. Fuck those operations.

    I've never had the money to book an Alaska Heli trip or a Indo boat trip in my life. By the time I had that sort of cash, I had a mortgage and a child, and other bills. I would be so pissed if I spent that kind of money, and then it became illegal for me to travel to, and for the birds to fly, and the company held on to my money. They literally can not fly.

    Thanks for posting this. If I ever do become rich, I will not book with either of those companies.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    688
    Yeah, Norway trip was in the "trip of a lifetime" category for me. Not happy.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    truckee
    Posts
    12,740
    Quote Originally Posted by glademaster View Post
    Most of these operations have a clause on their website that states they don't give refunds ever, for any reason, no matter what. I personally think that's a shitty way to run a business, but it seems widespread in the backcountry skiing industry.

    The ones that are refunding trips that were cancelled due to the virus seem to be making a point of advertising that on social media. The operations that are staying quiet are probably just taking the money and running.
    The way it usually worked the one time we went is that you are promised a certain amount of flight time (Hobbs time). If you fly more you pay extra. If you fly less no refund; they advise you to take out travel insurance which surprisingly enough covered our unused flight time--I think we each got back 2K (it was a rainy week). But they still have to house and feed you. I doubt the no refund policy would be enforceable if the lodging and food were shut down as well. But like the man said--being entitled to a refund and being able to get it are 2 different things.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Truckee & Sonoma
    Posts
    11,705
    I'm planning on pulling the trigger on an AK heli trip next year. I'll definitely be making a list of operations to avoid based on this. Really dumb.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,928
    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    But like the man said--being entitled to a refund and being able to get it are 2 different things.
    If you paid with a credit card within the last 6 months, you can charge it back. The card processor would have to cover the chargeback even if the operator did not have the funds in his account.

    As an operator if you get a couple of chargebacks that limits your ability to take cards in the future. The processor would terminate the account and then you would have to go with a high risk processor who would charge you 3-4x what you were paying now.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    87
    That Silverton email posted is taken out of context and was sent while travel to AK was still allowed and people were still traveling. Subsequent emails and phone contact with each guest has been made after AK went under entry quarantine letting them know we indeed will be offering a form of credit, and that we are working all avenues to determine what that credit amount will be, and we will follow up with our guests at the end of April once we know more details on how much we can credit based upon what credits we can get from various supply contracts we have in place, and if the SBA and Emergency Loans actually comes through. So far the SBA and Emergency Loans have been a complete bust, and for those who think the PPP and Cares act is helping small business, it isnt...

    Heli skiing in AK requires extensive financial outlay months and months in advance by the business in order to have everything ready for the guests. When something like this happens, it's very, very complicated. This is a challenging time for all, and especially those who work in the winter seasonal business that have a short season to make revenue to cover expenses for the entire calendar year. Its easy for those who still have a job to point fingers and tell those that don't what should or shouldn't be done. We are being open with our guests saying once we can calculate what we can do in form of credit we will let them know, but right now we don't know... and are working super hard trying to figure it out. Nobody is sleeping and this is super stressful for the operators and the great people we employ. Most people aren't happy about it losing a portion of their trip but are understanding that this is devastating.

    (this will be our only post on this issue)

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    5,912
    Quote Originally Posted by Silverton Mt View Post
    That Silverton email posted is taken out of context and was sent while travel to AK was still allowed and people were still traveling. Subsequent emails and phone contact with each guest has been made after AK went under entry quarantine letting them know we indeed will be offering a form of credit, and that we are working all avenues to determine what that credit amount will be, and we will follow up with our guests at the end of April once we know more details on how much we can credit based upon what credits we can get from various supply contracts we have in place, and if the SBA and Emergency Loans actually comes through. So far the SBA and Emergency Loans have been a complete bust, and for those who think the PPP and Cares act is helping small business, it isnt...

    Heli skiing in AK requires extensive financial outlay months and months in advance by the business in order to have everything ready for the guests. When something like this happens, it's very, very complicated. This is a challenging time for all, and especially those who work in the winter seasonal business that have a short season to make revenue to cover expenses for the entire calendar year. Its easy for those who still have a job to point fingers and tell those that don't what should or shouldn't be done. We are being open with our guests saying once we can calculate what we can do in form of credit we will let them know, but right now we don't know... and are working super hard trying to figure it out. Nobody is sleeping and this is super stressful for the operators and the great people we employ. Most people aren't happy about it losing a portion of their trip but are understanding that this is devastating.

    (this will be our only post on this issue)
    Just quoting this for the record.
    I remember a bottomless freedom...

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    753
    Strictly ethically speaking, I don't think the heli op is obliged to offer a full refund, or even a full credit. Nor should they be able to keep all your money. Both sides got screwed equally - they should refund 1/2 your money. That is the truly fair option, I think.

    Everybody knows about heli/cat ops' notorious, no-refund policies (e.g. I got screwed fkn TWICE at Retallack - pineapple express). But then, they are not providing room and board (or anything at all) in this case.

    If you feel you are entitled to a full refund, you may be able to get it through your credit card. Our neighbors were supposed to go to Costa Rica for spring break (cancelled due to virus, of course), were offered no refund or credit for their lodging, but did get their money back with a credit card dispute.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,116
    I think a lot of people are under the impression heli-ops are pocketing the money from guests as pure profit but I'd guess many things are rented by them and paid for way before the season starts and that's why there isn't full refunds.

    Or as Silverton says "Heli skiing in AK requires extensive financial outlay months and months in advance by the business in order to have everything ready for the guests"


    You guys will rip on them for being candid in the above post and not having the right tone or whatever, but I appreciate it. this is TGR, none of us have the right tone, and it's great to hear the other side.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    5,912
    So let me get this straight: what you're saying is that it's justifiable for a business to steal if that business is so poorly run that it doesn't maintain enough liquidity to cover its bare-bones overhead when they can't operate for a short period of time.

    Because taking someone's money without offering anything in return is theft, pure and simple.
    I remember a bottomless freedom...

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Agrestic
    Posts
    5,039
    Quote Originally Posted by Silverton Mt View Post
    Its easy for those who still have a job to point fingers and tell those that don't what should or shouldn't be done.
    Fucking hilarious.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •