Mountain Spy

Mountain Spy November 2006


The Question:

Hi, I'm just out of college and I usually get a season pass with my school without having to really think about what kind to get. So I was wondering what type you would advise for me this year?

For this edition of Mountain Spy, our 007 Liz Eren got on the horn with 20 different ski areas on both sides of the border to ask about season pass pricing and options. Believe us, we root for success, and there were many, but, alas, a few resorts fell short. As always, we called a geographic mix of ski areas, as well as a mix of small, medium and large areas. Liz rates her experiences on a scale from one to ten with some commentary. Again, we were only able to fit 6 spy missions here, but check out the entire list of 20 at and click on "current issue."

New York, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine, chose option 5 for pass sales

Answering phone: Young female, in a rush

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Well, ahh, we have full season which is $xxx and also adult non-holiday pass which is $xxx.

SAM: So those would both be seven days a week?

Staff: Uhh, yeah! (Easy on the 'tude, just making sure.)

SAM: OK, thanks then.

Staff: You're welcome. Bye.

** Because a spy is never satisfied, I did a little check up on their website. The woman did fail to mention promotional dates which would have saved me over a hundred dollars and a great day-ticket discount package. Hmmm

Rating: 3

Comment: Lacking in detail and was quick to get off the phone. Could have put in a little more effort.

Colorado, Medium Area

First contact: Automated Service, chose mountain Info.

Answering phone: Automated guy trying to sound cool. Thanked everyone for a great last season and listed some upcoming highlights, and then hung up. (Not cool!)

Called back: Chose manager option

Answering phone: Young guy. Sounded like he was pumped to talk to me and happy that I called. Big plus!

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Um, as far as right now, well, how much do you plan to ride?

SAM: Basically as much as I can. I work part time so during the week a bit but definitely on the weekends.

Staff: OK, a few things then would work for you. We have a mountain pass which is $xxx and it's unlimited. There's also night-time passes and weekday passes. We also had a partnership with mountain X and mountain Y which is really great so our pass gives you the opportunity to ride on those mountains as well. Do you have the Internet?

SAM: Yeah, I do.

Staff: Perfect, then the best thing for you to do is go on our site at and read through the details of the passes. That'll give you the best understanding to find what fits best for you, just because I'm more of an outside guy with this mountain than an inside guy, haha. So I would go online and do that and if you have any more questions don't be shy and just give us a call back.

SAM: Awesome, thanks so much, I'll do that.

Staff: No problem, take care.

Rating: 9

Comment: Felt like I was talking to someone who actually rode the mountain and treated me the exact way he'd want to be treated. I even got a feel for the mountain's personality through this guy, totally laid back and friendly. He was honest, led me to the site where he knew I'd get more out of my time than him attempting to explain it all. Good job dude.

Southern Midwest, Day Area

First contact: Automated service, chose general info.
Automated woman listed every ticket price and offer under the sun, but never mentioned season passes! And then hung up. Grrr. Called back. Chose operator this time.

Answering phone: Older guy, sounded a little sleepy.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Hmm, OK. Generally if you're coming more than say, a half a dozen times, the unlimited season pass probably is the least expensive way to go. That would be $xxx dollars. That way you can come any time and, um, uh yeah, use your pass.

SAM: All right then, is that that only option you have?

Staff: Um. . .the only other thing we have, or a couple options we have. . .we have a five-week pass that would be good for any five weeks, Monday through Sunday, for any five weeks during the season, except between Christmas and New Years. The two options for that is either one that's Monday through Thursday, or Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday would have to be after 5 p.m. though.

SAM: OK, so you have the full-season or the 5-week options?

Staff: Yes, that would allow you to come once each week, if you come more than that you would have to buy a daily pass when you came. (Raise your hand if you're also getting confused...)

SAM:OK, so let me get this straight. I can get this 5-week pass but I can only come one time during the week, or the weekend, depending on which 5-week pass option I choose. If I come more than once during the week, I have to pay separately for that day?

Staff: Yes, that's right.

SAM: OK, then.

My spy instinct led me to the website to find out what the purpose of this deal was or even if it was a deal...
Results: This pass is an awesome deal-you can actually ski once a week all season long. There's also about three other pass options this guy failed to mention.

Rating: 4.5

Comment: Left out so much useful information that involved some great deals and got the one deal he explained wrong.

Medium Area, Utah

First contact: Automated service, chose season passes. Transferred to another automated service, then hung up on! Called back. Chose operator option.

Answering phone: Young girl, a little out of it.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Well there are two options. One is that you buy an adult pass for yourself which is $xxx or you can buy a buddy pass which is $xxx for the pair and you can save money that way. Or yeah. (Silence.)

SAM: All right, are those your only options?

Staff: Do you have a family? (Yes, I have 2.5 kids, a house in the burbs and a black lab, all of which I acquired as a college student.)

SAM: No, I don't.

Staff: Oooh, OK, yeeaah, then those are your only two options.

SAM: OK then, thanks.

Staff: Yeah OK, bye.

Rating: 2

Comment: Gave the basic options, but showed no interest in engaging me and I'm guessing she wasn't really listening. If she's already this put out before the season starts, I can't wait to call her after Christmas. And the hang up by the automated service was another bummer.

Large Area, Alberta

First contact: Automated service, chose guest services

Answering phone: Young male, very friendly

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Um, OK. What sort of pass are you looking for? We have multiple options, one for our mountain with full time passes and then there's mid-week passes and then we have passes that combine our mountain and three others so...

SAM: Well yeah, I'm going to come out every chance I get, I'll have a part time job near your mountain so during the week a little and hopefully every weekend.

Staff: OK, so you'll be working in Snow City?

SAM: Yes

Staff: So right now we're in our fall sale period which runs until September 30. An adult pass which covers seven days a week is $xxx until our sale deadline. Our mid-week pass is $xxx until our deadline. Both of those prices will go up $xx dollars after September 30. Both of those also are unrestricted with holidays.

SAM: OK, so those are your two main season passes?

Staff: Well just at our mountain, yes. There's also the mega pass which covers us and three other mountains in the area. So you do always have those options.

SAM: OK, those all seem pretty good. Thanks

Staff: Oh you're welcome. Thanks for calling.

Rating: 8

Comment: This guy was super nice and took his time to answer my question-there was no rush to get me off the phone. I am taking off points for his question asking me which pass I wanted. The point of my call was to see what passes they offered. A question about my skiing habits would have worked better...and that's where this next mountain shines.

Massachusetts, Day Area

Hung up on at first by a machine. Oh no! You can hang up but you can never hide! Called back.

First contact: Young girl, had a "good mood" cup of coffee this morning.

SAM: Stated question

Staff:Well, are you working full time now or what is your schedule? (Awesome, finally someone asked!)

SAM: Right now I'm working part-time. I'm looking to work full time, but as of now I'm pretty flexible.

Staff: OK, well let me ask you this: so if you woke up in the morning would you be one to want to ride during the day and all day or would you rather want to ride in the afternoon and into night?

SAM: Um, yeah, I mean if I don't have work that day I'd love to come ski all day as soon as I woke up, or if I got off work early I'd definitely want to come for the afternoon and the night. And definitely on the weekends.

Staff: OK, so the most economical decision for you would be the Super-Spectacular Glitter pass (its real name was actually that cool), which is valid from x a.m. to x p.m. with no black out days and is seven days a week. It's $xxx right now. Our unlimited pass, which is $xxx, is for nights after x p.m. and all days on weekends.

SAM: Oh nice, is that all you have?

Staff: We do also offer a weekday pass which is Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 and right now its $xxx, but doesn't include any holidays or breaks. So those holidays aren't available with that pass but if you think your schedule allows you to come and ski around those school breaks that could also work well for you.

SAM: Yeah, that could be a good option, too.

Staff: Whatever you do decide though, my suggestion would be to purchase it before Halloween because after that our prices will go up by $xx dollars.
SAM: Oh, awesome to know. Thank you.

Staff: Anytime, good luck. Bye.

Rating: 9.5

Comment: The girl was nice, patient and cared about giving me my money's worth. She took the half a second to figure out my skiing habits. Very nicely done. Minus .5 for the initial hang up.
Identity revealed: Nashoba Valley.

Vermont, Large Area

First contact: Real person!

Answering phone: Young female

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK let me transfer you (unknown transfer, always exciting)-transferred to Guest Services.

Answering phone: Young male, very kind

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Sure, ummm... We have a mid week pass which is Monday through Friday and non holidays. That right now with tax is $xxx and then the next one is a value pass which is good seven days a week but no holidays and that with tax is $xxx. Then the next one is a peak pass which is seven days and no black outs but only valid at the peak X and peak Y. That with tax is $xxxx. The last one, which is the ultra pass, is good at peak W, X, Y and Z and is $xxxx.

SAM: Awesome, so you have a lot then.

Staff: We do, we have four different ones.

SAM: OK, is that completely it or are there any buddy-type passes?
Staff: That's it but we do have frequent skier, which is really flexible, so you buy the card and then get discounts on daily tickets as well as holidays.

SAM: That one sounds pretty good too.

Staff: Oh yeah! That card Is $xx for the season! And then there is another, which is called an X pack or Y pack where you buy that many tickets at once at a discount. But that's really only best to use if you don't think you're going to come up all that much. That would work really well if you came up with a friend a couple times, if not the frequent skier would work the best.

SAM: Wow, definitely sounds like there is something there that can fit what I'm looking for. Thanks a bunch.

Staff: No problem. Bye

Rating: 8

Comment: Really nice guy, totally patient. Gave simple, detailed descriptions of each pass along with the price, including tax, which was a big help. Well done, my man. Minus two for not asking what my skiing habits are.

Vermont, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine

Answering phone: Young female, pretty nice

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, well the most economical pass would be the bronze and including tax it would be $xxx with x number of black out days, which black out the holidays. And then we have other passes with less black out days but then the price goes up.

SAM: Alrighty then, is that it?

Staff: Well if you're someone that skis x amount of times, we have a thing called Red tickets, so if you ski x amount of times it would end up being $xx a day, but then, oh wait, no if you ski x times it would be, ah, yeah if you ski it would work out to, uh, $xx a day, but that works out to be $xxx total for the whole season which is not much less then the bronze pass. (Wow, finally got that full circle.)

SAM: OK, well those all seem legitimate. Thanks so much.

Staff: Oh you're welcome. Bye

Rating: 5

Comment: First one to say "economical," attempting to help my situation as a broke ex-college student. Left me hanging though with little else to work with. Promotions or pre-season deals? Multiple mountain passes? I know they exist from personal experience at this mountain, so I know there are many more options.

Vermont, Medium Area

First contact: Automated obstacle course. Resorted to the operator.

Answering phone: female, a bit dry.

SAM: Stated question

Staff OK, um here, next week, you can go through the ski shop and purchase one. That would be your best option. Let me find the shop list auughhh. (Is she stretching? Experiencing severe pain? Made me a little nervous.) Ughh, hold on, OK. Let me see. Where are you living?

SAM: Shamrock Harbor, New Zealand. (No, not really but what a fun sounding place.)

Staff: OK well then you can go to these couple of sport shots in your area (I waited a solid 20 seconds for any explanation-I thought I was going to the mountain ski shop but apparently not-no response.)

SAM: Um OK, are they selling your regular season passes there?

Staff: Yeah, you'll be a part of the group.

SAM: Um, what do you mean a group?

Staff: The X group which you were a part of before with school, so you'll basically get the same deal on the pass. (What? I'm too confused to untangle the mess.)

SAM: OK then, well how much is it?

Staff: For that particular pass it's $xxx. OK then?

SAM: Uh, yeah, sure thanks. (OK then? It's nice and dark down here where I'm completely lost after talking to you.)

Rating: 3

Comment: The only concrete info she gave me was where I could get the passes. No mention of prices, deadlines, anything. Sub par by far.

Midwest, Medium Area

First contact: Automated machine, chose ticket office.

Answering phone: Older female. Super sweet.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Uuh OK, what are you looking for? All season or daily or what exactly?

SAM: I am looking for a season pass, yes. I work part-time and probably will be going into the season but I'm not sure what kind of pass I want.

Staff: OK well our daily tickets are $xx for adults. I take it you're over 18?

SAM: Yes I am.

Staff: OK, we have an online special and you ski for X days for less then the cost of skiing for Y days but they have to be used consecutively. Another thing is our season pass special, but that ended Friday but I can give it to you today if you want to order it now. The price right now is $xxx.

SAM: There are no black out days?

Staff: No and also if you're a pass holder, and you have a friend that wants to come on one of these three holidays (great holiday choices, but I can't reveal my source), they can ski for only $xx dollars. (Very cheap too!) So those are the options we have at the moment. Would you like to purchase our season pass today and receive the special price?

SAM: Oh thank you so much for that offer, but I don't want to decide on something right away.

Staff: No problem, take your time. Bye

Rating: 7.5

Comment: Solid effort in explanation and nice to extend the special season pass offer. Could have attempted to be just a smidge more attentive, like asking if I was over 18, when in my original question I state that I have just graduated from college--not everyone is Doogie Howser.

Southeast, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine, chose lift ticket option.

Answering phone: Young female, "Hi, can I have your first name please?"

SAM: Sure, Liz

Staff: OK, how can I help you Liz?

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, please hold and I'll transfer you to the activity center and they can help you with that. Hold Time: Forever and no music!

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, right, let's see. So what's your, ah, you're twenty-something right?

SAM: Yes

Staff: So that'll be an adult pass. Hold on one second. (Taking instructions from someone in the background.)

Staff: OK. Adult pass. We're at the mid way point so its $xxx for the unlimited passes, weekends, holidays, everyday. There's a mid-week pass for $xxx if you purchase it now. Weekends and holidays aren't included however and you have to purchase that before Oct. 31 or the price goes up. (Still taking instructions from someone standing next to her, word for word. It's like an annoying echo, but maybe she was in training.) Do you live near by?

SAM: Yeah, I live about a half hour away.

Staff: Oh, OK, well I'm just trying to see if there's a local deal that we can give you. It's much better that way. Depending on where you live you can get a bit of a discount for being a local in the area. We'd just need to see a license. Would you want to teach skiing? I know they're looking for instructors. (Whoa, I'm getting a job offer too!?) Just say you talked to Sue if you're interested, and oh yeah, you'll also get a free season's pass.

SAM: Wow thanks, that might be something I'd be very interested in, I'll surely keep it in mind.

Staff: No problem, just don't forget about the deadline for pass prices if that's the way you decide to go.

SAM: I won't, thanks! Bye.

Rating: 8

Comment: The hold time killed the buzz a bit after the stellar opening, but the girl was nice and tried her hardest to be helpful. Bonus points for offering the job even though she had no idea who I was.

Pennsylvania, Medium Area

First contact: Young woman. Very nice but quite the speed talker.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Ahh the season pass for an adult is $xxx prior to October 9 then the other thing that we offer is the XXX discount book which is good for one person with multiple coupons either on weekends or mid-week so you can ski approximately 12 weekend days or 15 mid-week days and the cost for that is $xxx. (Sounds like she drank a case of Red Bull right before I called, notice the one big sentence.)

SAM: Whew, all right, those sounds pretty good.

Staff: When do you normally ski, on the weekends or during the week?

SAM: Well I have a part-time job right now so whenever I can get out there I will. It'll definitely be on the weekends though.

Staff: OK, now are you the type that would want to ski every day or just kind of when it is convenient for you?

SAM: Oh I would certainly want to go as much as I can, so every day would be more my style, whenever I have the chance.

Staff: Perfect, then you'll definitely want to purchase a season pass. We can take a credit card over the phone, you can purchase it online or you can also easily send us a check.

SAM: Oh nice, thanks so much.

Staff: Oh no problem, just remember those prices are only good through October 9.

SAM: Perfect, thanks.

Rating: 7.5

Comment: Clear and concise. Narrowed me down until she knew what was best for me. The payment options were also a bonus to know about. I'd give her a better score but she spoke faster than I could almost understand, and certainly faster than I can type!

Midwest, Small Area

First contact: Young women, pleasant enough

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Well, we have our full season pass which is going for $xxx plus tax and that's good for unlimited access for any day of the season. We also sell a five-time pass if you're not sure you're going to go that much. That's good for day or night, weekdays or weekends, but not holidays. Those are $xxx plus tax.

SAM: OK, is that all you have you have to offer?

Staff: Yup. (A little TLC here wouldn't hurt.)

SAM: All right, well I can work with those.

Staff: Oh yeah, our season pass price goes up after October 1 so you'll want to decide before then.

SAM:Thanks, good to know.

Staff: You're welcome, bye.

Rating: 4

Comment: OK, yeah, what they had to offer was clear cut, but also clear cut that they could give the customer a little lovin'.

Colorado, Large Area

First contact: Operator, transferred me to ticket hotline

Answering phone: automated woman, chose season passes

Answering phone: automated woman, again! Broke down the season pass options, chose operator

Answering phone: Young guy, talked slowly and was patient. Very nice.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK well how much do you plan on skiing?

SAM: I try to get on the hill as much as I can. I work part-time so a couple days a week and hopefully every weekend.

Staff: Oh good, all right. Are you located in the state?

SAM: Yes

Staff: OK then, you're best deal would be the X pass which offers unlimited, unrestricted access at X, Y and Z mountains. You would just have to go in person the first year to get it and then its renewable online. That's about it. You also get friend coupons for any guest of yours for at any time, so if you ski more than 5 times that's the best option for you. It's a really great deal for what you're getting.

SAM: So You think that's the best option for me?

Staff: Oh yeah, definitely if you ski as much as you do.

SAM: All right, thanks.

Rating: 5

Comment: Nice guy, great customer rep personality, tried to connect with me, even though the conversation was limited. Usually I'd give more points for the personality but here's my beef: no price mention at all and after going through two automated sessions of season pass offers he only mentions one. Is he really sure that's the right deal for me?

Washington, Medium Area

First contact: Automated service, put on hold for operator. Hold time: 10 seconds

Answering phone: Woman, kind of friendly but in a rush.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: How old are you?

SAM: Twenty-one.

Staff: OK, then you have one choice, an adult season pass. (Silence... crickets.)

SAM: Oook, so that's my only choice then huh?

Staff: Yes, unless you're planning on becoming a part of the ski patrol or something like that.

SAM: Well all right then, thanks.

Staff: You're welcome, bye.

Rating: 2

Comment: Failed to do the math that I'd at least be eighteen if I graduated college already, but I won't hound her for it. Even so, she was way too quick to get me off the phone, gave me one sentence answers and didn't give me any details about the one pass that I have to get, namely price.

California, Medium Area

First contact: Automated service, got lost, ended up at HR and then finally transferred to the season pass office.

Answering phone: Woman, friendly, but very short.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Well we only have one kind of season pass. It'd be an adult pass and right now their on sale for $xxx until October 31 when they'll go up to $xxx. Have you always gotten a pass around here?

SAM: Well I just left school on the middle coast so I'm new to your area and I'm sure the pass system is a little different.

Staff: Well yeah, you know, so the adult pass is what you'll want to do.

SAM: OK, thanks so much.

Staff: You're welcome, bye.

Rating: 5

Comment: She was nice and at least gave the price but she could have engaged herself a little more in the conversation or asked a relative question. And yes, for secrecy's sake, mountain spy is from the Middle Coast.

California, Medium Area

First contact: Automated service, chose operator option

Answering phone: Young guy, rather confident

SAM: Stated question, transferred to season pass office

SAM: Stated Question

Staff: Ummm, well the best deal in the industry (whoa, bold claim) is our $xxx mid-week pass which is five days not including holidays. So it's only $xxx and that's an outstanding deal. (It was pretty good, but the Spy has been around and seen better.) The next is a value adult pass which is seven days with eight blackout dates. If you wanted the full-on pass it would be $xxx without any blackout dates but if you're a hardcore skier you probably wouldn't want to ski on all those holidays.

SAM: Yeah, I'm going to want to come as much as I can but would definitely steer away from a holiday like MLK Day.

Staff: Haha yeah, so your best bet would probably be the mid-week pass or value pass.

SAM: OK, yeah, that sounds pretty good. Thanks.

Staff: No problem man. (I'm a chick but whatever.)

Rating: 7.5

Comment: Totally nice and laid back, took his time explaining the small amount of information and actually tried to sell what a great deal it was-put in some personal effort. Honest as well, always a plus.

Utah, Large Area

First contact: Automated service, chose general info option

Answering phone: Young woman, nice

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Um well there's an adult season pass which is $x,xxx (Holy smokes! But looks as though it's totally worth it.) and we have a power card for Utah state residents only and you purchase it for $xx dollars and when you get a day lift ticket you get $xx dollars off each time. That can be used throughout the whole season. Then there's the moose card which has X days of skiing on it that can be used for anyone, you or if your friend wants to use it.

SAM: Great options. Can they all be used on holidays and weekends too?

Staff: Oh yeah all of the above. Also, if you don't use up all the days on the moose card they'll roll over to next season.

SAM: That's convenient. Thanks.

Staff: Oh you're welcome. Bye

Rating: 8

Comment: Great attitude and had a personal feel but lacked a little on the info. She could have found out how much I ski to help me narrow the options down. Other than that, solid effort.

Quebec, Medium Area

First contact: Automated service, chose operator

Answering phone: Young women, friendly

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, could you give me a few seconds?

SAM: Sure. (She came back to transfer me.)

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, um, when are you available to ski? Are you more free during the week or on the weekends?

SAM: I'll be skiing as much as possible. I'll work part time so during the week some and then every weekend.

Staff: OK so then you'll want the unlimited pass, so this one would cost you $xxx plus tax because you aren't a student anymore right?

SAM: No I'm not.

Staff: So that would be about it then. If you buy it before the 9th of October you'll get a rebate, so we'll charge you $xxx instead.

SAM: OK, is that my only option really?

Staff: Yes, if you want to ski as much as possible.

SAM: OK thanks then.

Staff: You're welcome, bye.

Rating: 8

Comment: She was very clear, to the point and nice, so I shouldn't fault her for the lack of choices-even though I will.

Quebec, Medium Area

First contact: Automated Service., chose operator

Answering phone: Young woman, friendly

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, well, if you plan to ski quite a bit then our full season adult pass would work the best for you I think. Do you ski quite a lot?

SAM: Yes I do, as much as I can. So a little during the week when I'm not working and hopefully every weekend.

Staff: OK then, yes, I think the adult pass would be best, it'll give you unlimited access through the season, weekends and holidays. The price for that right now is $xxx, and it is a good deal for the area.

SAM: OK thanks so much, is that my only option?

Staff: Well if you ski as much as you do that really is the best choice. We have other options, which are less expensive but there are restrictions, so you may not like those.

SAM: Well OK then, that works. Thank you.

Staff: Oh you're welcome, thanks for calling, hopefully you'll decide on the pass, you can buy it over the phone or on our website at

SAM: Thanks so much. Bye

Rating: 8

Comment: Short and sweet with the explanation and very kind. Couldn't have indulged me with the other options but she seemed to know that the full pass would be more beneficial for me.

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Mountain Spy September 2006


The Question:

I moved here from Colombia a few years ago and I do have a green card. I've been snowboarding for the past couple of years and I love it. I am calling to see if you have any openings at your area?

For this edition of Mountain Spy, our 007 Liz Eren teamed up with SAM part-timer, Astrid Ramirez-Jacobs. Armed with a phone and a great Spanish accent, Astrid hit the lines to try and gauge how areas handle HR and how welcoming they are to diversity. As always, we called a geographic mix of ski areas, as well as a mix of small, medium and large areas. Astrid rated her experiences on a scale from one to ten with some commentary.

Vermont, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine, 3 choices, none were HR, chose reservations.

Answering phone: Young girl.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, let me transfer you to someone that can help you with that.

Hold time: 10 seconds.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: We actually go through a company called IWS which is International Work Solutions. If you want to give them a call. Let me get their number for you.

SAM: OK, thanks.

Staff: Do you have an H2B?

SAM: No, I'm a legal resident.

Staff: What kind of visa do you have?

SAM: No, I don't need a visa, I'm a legal citizen.

Staff: Where are you from?

SAM: I live in Massachusetts. I'm looking for a winter job because I know this is the time of year that you usually start to hire people.

Staff: Well, we don't have any housing or insurance here, though, so you might not like it. I would probably suggest XX ski area or XX area. I would check thereOK?


Staff: OK then, thanks a lot.

Rating: 2

Comment: First, she assumed I needed to go through an international program even though I stated at the beginning that I am a legal resident. And even after I restated that fact, she clearly had her doubts. In HR, the person answering the phone should, minimally, understand what a legal resident is. And punting me down the road to two other ski areas? I am utterly baffled.

California, Day Area

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator.

Answering phone: Woman. Very receptive and friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Well yes, we'll definitely have openings for snowboard instructors

SAM: Well, I'm actually not that good. I love it, though, so I'm looking for any job at the mountain.

Staff: OK, let's see, do you have a social security number?

SAM: Yes I do.

Staff: Oh perfect, so you're completely legal to work in the United States on your own.

SAM: Definitely.

Staff: OK, well we're going to have a job fair on xx and then another one on xx. Where do you live?

SAM: I live in L.A.

Staff: Oh, OK, that's great. Then the best thing you could do is come up to one of our job fairs and that way you can meet all of the department advisors and find out which one would work best for you.

SAM: OK, thanks a lot.

Staff: No problem.

Rating: 8

Comment: Though not a ball of energy, she got to the bottom of my legal status in a simple way and then pointed me in the right direction, and even added an explanation of why it's good to attend the job fairs. Almost perfect.

Montana, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator option, transferred to HR.

Answering phone: Woman, great mood.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, are you looking for an opening right now or were you looking for the winter?

SAM: I am looking for the winter.

Staff: Um, ahh, we'll have a ton of openings for the winter and they all will be on the website in about three weeks. So check and see which one you'll like and then you can fill out an application and we'll give you a call.

SAM: Oh great, thanks. (waiting for a website. . .nope.) What's the website I can visit?

Staff: Oh, it's

SAM: OK, thanks so much.

Staff: Oh you're welcome, thanks for calling.

Rating: 8.5

Comment: VERY nice and led me through the process so I could be prepared for the time when they do start hiring. Minus points for the website omission, but grade A for attitude.

Maine, Small Area

First Contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Woman, quick to answer.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Well, we already have eight from Argentina to teach skiing. (And that affects me how?)

SAM: Oh, well I don't mind other jobs besides teaching

Staff:Nope, that's pretty much all we need. Thank you though for calling.

SAM: OK, well thank you.

Staff: You're welcome, good luck.

Rating: 2

Comment: OK, perhaps they only have a quota of eight people with accents? Do they not want any individual interest for a job? At least she wished me luck.

Medium Area, Michigan

First contact: Real person! Woman, quick to answer though.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Oh no, we don't right now. We don't hire until the winter.

SAM: Oh OK... (cut off)

Staff: OK, bye.

Rating: 0

Comment: Not only will I not call back there for a job, I will never visit as their guest. Unless there was a fire raging at her door, there was no need for practically hanging up on me.

Medium Area, New York

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator and administration services.

Answering phone: Woman, nice.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Umm, I'm not sure. One moment. (Woman holds the phone away, but still close enough that I can clearly hear her, and repeats the question to her colleague. However, she changes my question and gets all the details wrong.)

Staff: OK, um, you'll have to come through the agency that we work with, OK?

SAM: Well, how come? I'm a legal resident so I don't need a sponsor or any visa.

Staff: Um OK, let me send you over to Paula.(Transferred to accounts payable. Answering machine.)

Rating: 3

Comment: She tried to help out the best she could by asking another person, but she did not repeat the question correctly and didn't try to understand it any better. Unfortunately, just not enough effort. And the transfer to accounts payable? I hung up thoroughly confused.

Medium Area, Minnesota

First contact: Young woman, very nice.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: There could be, I'm not sure if we have any right at the moment are you looking for full time?

SAM:Yes I am, for the winter.

Staff: Oh OK, well then you can just send in an application by going online at and it'll give you a full listing of what's available for the winter.

SAM: OK, thank you.

Staff: Oh, you're welcome, thank you.

Rating: 7

Comment: Super polite. Got to the point without rushing. She told me the basics of exactly what I needed to get started. Solid effort.

Colorado, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine on automated caffeine. Spoke WAY TOO FAST, chose operator.

Answering phone: Woman, also having recently enjoyed an energy drink.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, hold on, let me transfer you to the right person.

Answering phone: Enthusiastic sounding woman.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: Um, to teach snowboarding or skiing?

SAM: Um, not particularly. I'm not that good but I love it. I'm looking for any type of job at the mountain, really, so if you have any openings at all.

Staff: Absolutely, you said you have a green card?

SAM: Yes, I do.

Staff: Well great. I have jobs working inside with children. I also have jobs as cooks for the children. Things of that sort. Where do you live?

SAM: I live in Denver.

Staff: OK perfect. Well If you go to our website. . .if you go to Let me check for you quick first if we have that posting available. Are you looking for full- or part-time work?

SAM: I was looking for full-time during the winter.

Staff: OK, that's good. OK I got it. So if you go to and go to the very bottom and click on jobs-it says "get a job." Haha sort of an interesting way of putting it, don't you think? (So excited, such a nice change.) And then it'll ask you what job type and then it'll say management or ski school. It says that we have available. . .hmmm It says we have childcare attendants, etc. and what you can do is click on any of those and you can apply online. And then you can put my name on the listing-my name is Jane Smith. What is your name?

SAM: Gave her a name.

Staff: OK great, I'm looking forward to seeing your application. So glad that you called!

Rating: 9.5

Comment: Extremely pumped that I was calling and asking for a job-someone finally cares! Talked me through where to go on the website-even better. She made it feel personal, which is a huge deal! If I didn't have this job, I might consider moving west...

Identity Revealed: Winter Park.

Vermont, Large area

First Contact: Automated machine, 5 options, chose general resort info.

Answering phone: Young woman, friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK umm I can transfer you down to HR, they can let you know what they have available. Hold on one second.

SAM: Restated question.

Answering phone: Woman, sort of friendly.

Staff: Um, we do have some. Do you have computer access?

SAM: Yes I do.

Staff: Go to, go to um,

SAM: OK. Do you have any housing? I live in Massachusetts

Staff: Um, if you're coming for the winter, there may be you'd have to talk to our housing manager. I can't transfer you, because we're in a temporary location right now and our computers are all off so I can't really transfer you, but if you call XX, his number is xxx-xxx-xxxx and he can help you out.

SAM: OK, thanks a lot.

Staff: No problem.

Rating: 5

Comment: Immediately led me to a website she thought could handle all my questions, but it might not have, who knows, she didn't tell me anything about it.

Large Day Area, Massachusetts

First Contact: Automated machine, 9 options, chose operator.

Answering phone: Woman, fast talker but friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: What you probably want to do is come up to our career fair that we have ever year in the fall.

SAM: When is it?

Staff: Hold on one second, it's in September but let me check the date.

Staff: As of right now it's scheduled for September 11. They haven't set a time yet so I'm not sure about that. (Silence.)

SAM: OK, well do you have any housing at all?

Staff: The mountain itself doesn't provide any housing. (Silence again.)

SAM: All right then, thank you.

Staff: You're welcome. Bye.

Rating: 5

Comment: Career fair will obviously give me all the info that I need. However she didn't give me a time, didn't give the website where I can keep a tab on it to find out the time and didn't offer where to find directions, etc. A bad grade for the complete shot down about housing. Tough way to end a conversation. Leaves me looking somewhere else.

Medium Area, New York

First contact: Automated machine, chose 0 for further assistance.

Answering phone: Woman, nice.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, let me connect you to that department.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: Not at this time. (Dry tone.)

SAM: OK then. Thank you.

Staff: You're welcome. Sorry. Bye.

Rating: 1

Comment: Be sorry you didn't give me anything else to work with When there might be any openings, are there ever any openings? Something, anything? She said sorry, so at least her manners grant her a rating of 1.

Large Area, Colorado

First Contact: Automated machine, 9 options, chose the one with the most departments.

Answering phone: Woman, anxious.

SAM: Stated question...she interrupted the question and transferred me to personnel.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: We do, um If you want to go on our website. Do you have access to the internet?

SAM:Yes I do.

Staff: OK, go to and go to Jobs, it'll be listed at the very bottom. If you click on that it'll list all the winter jobs.

SAM: Just a quick question, do you have any housing at all?

Staff: We actually don't, but there is information on the site there about other options for you.

SAM: OK, thanks a lot.

Staff: You're welcome.

Rating: 7

Comment: Short and semi sweet. Directed right to the website with guidance on where to go. Could have tried to get involved a little more, too distant and lacked any warmth.

Large area, California

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator, transferred to HR dept.

Answering phone: Young girl, friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yeah we do actually. We're starting to hire for next winter. There's a current list of all of our job openings online. You can do the applications online and start the whole process there.

SAM: Do you offer housing at all?

Staff: We do offer it. It's all done through the department managers though. So it's not guaranteed that you'll get it but once you apply online you'll start working through all of that.

SAM: OK, thanks so much.

Staff: You're welcome.

Rating: 8

Comment: Friendly and simple-where to go and where to start the application process. But I'm picky and she didn't give me the website address.

Large area, Wyoming

First contact: Automated machine, chose customer service, transferred to HR.

Answering Phone: Young girl, nice and patient.

SAM:Stated question.

Staff: Um yeah, do you live in the area?

SAM: Yes, but not too close so I was wondering if you provided housing?

Staff: Umm, we could. We have been reserving apartments through xxx Apartments. And, um, the thing is a lot of people in those places have just left to go back to college so we gave up some of the units. However we could definitely try to get one for you. So yeah, what we have is seasonal or year-round. You could stop in or go to our website at You can go right to jobs and look around there and either apply online or send in a resume. Starting there would be the best thing to do.

SAM: OK, thanks so much.

Staff: No problem.

Rating: 8.5

Comment: I felt that she really wanted to help as much as she could for my situation. She gave me the website before I asked and listed the options I could chose from. Patient, helpful and polite. Actually made me want to work there.

Large Area, Idaho

First Contact: Automated machine, chose customer service, transferred to HR.

Answering phone: Woman. Sounded like she was under the influence of a drowsy cold medicine.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yeeaah all of our available listings are on the uuh, the Internet (15 seconds to mutter that one sentence). So if you want to work for us just go to our website and fill out an application. And then you can send in a letter with all your information and your situation, that you have a green card and those things.

SAM: OK, I'll check out your website. (Haven't told me what it is yet though!)

Staff: Yeeah, you should do that. So yeah, the address is and you'll see the jobs available.

SAM:Sounds good, thanks.

Staff: You're welcome.

Rating: 4

Comment: Decent information on where to go, but wow, I thought the woman was going to fall asleep on the phone.

Large area, Vermont

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: I believe we do. Do you have computer access?

SAM: Yes, I do.

Staff: OK, good, so If you go to you can see a full list of our job offerings that we have right now.

SAM: OK, perfect, thanks. One more question, do you offer any housing?

Staff: Um, I don't know if we do that (SiIence).

SAM: Well OK then...(interrupted)

Staff: OK, you're welcome. Bye! (I never said Thank You!!)

Rating: 2

Comment: OK, yes she told me the website, and she was nice and direct, but she was definitely not paying attention to me or my questions.

Medium area, Pennsylvania

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Young woman, nice.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Uh, we don't really. You're still welcome to fill out an application. We could keep your application on file for the future.

SAM: OK, well, where can I fill one out?

Staff: You can fill it out right here at the mountain. (silence).

SAM: Um, OK, then, thank you.

Staff: You're welcome. Bye!

Rating: 3

Comment: Nice, but not very helpful. I had to extract the information.

Small area, Connecticut

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Young woman.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, we don't hire until December.

SAM: OK, thank you.

Staff: OK, bye.

Rating: 1

Comment: One point for at least saying when they hire. Overall, though, a poor effort.

Medium area, New Hampshire

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Woman, not very happy sounding.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Excuse me? You're looking for who?

SAM: I'm looking for any type of job you might have.

Staff: We're not hiring right now (silence).

SAM: OK, um, thanks I guess.

Staff: Uh, you're welcome. Bye.

Rating: .5

Comment: Very unfriendly person. And, if they are not hiring right now, they could tell me when they are.

Medium area, Pennsylvania

First Contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Woman, a little unenthusiastic.

SAM: Stated question .

Staff: Um, you can ahh, umm, hold one second.

Staff: OK, umm you can get on our website and get info. Do you, ahh, have it?

SAM: No I don't.

Staff: OK, it's and also we have a, uhh, job fair on X date from X a.m. to X p.m. and then on X date from X p.m. to X p.m. Uhh, yeah, those are right.

SAM:OK, thank you.

Staff:Uhh, OK, you're welcome.

Rating: 6

Comment: Too many uhhhs and ums. Had more to offer than the others, though, and she got the basics out. Can't fault her too horribly.


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Mountain Spy July 2006


The Question:

I'm looking for an alternative to the beach this summer with my family, I have two kids and was wondering what sort of summer activities your mountain has to offer.

For this edition of Mountain Spy, our intern, Liz Eren, aka 007, once again called a random geographic mix of ski areas, as well as a mix of small, medium and large areas. Liz rated her experiences on a scale from one to ten with some commentary. Liz started her search on-line and then went to the phones. Were there any common themes? Yes. It appears that people who answer our phones are perfectly comfortable with dead air.

Medium Area, California

Homepage summer graphics: no

One click to summer activities: no

First Contact: automated answering machine, pressed 0 to speak to live representative. Transferred once.

Answering phone: Women, friendly, attempted to be helpful.

SAM: stated question

Staff: Um, we actually don't offer anything at the ski area itself. As far the area though, there is camping, fishing, kayaking and hiking. There is enough that should be able to suit what you're looking for.

SAM: Well I do have two kids who are 5 and 12 so I'm wondering if there is anything specifically for families to do together.

Staff: Well it really depends on what you want to do or what you're interested in. There aren't like designated activities that are geared towards families. You know, we don't offer anything in the summer at the mountain so I'm not exactly sure. It's actually not a good idea to come to the mountain right now because we're doing a lot of construction and it's not the ideal place at the moment.

SAM: Well, OK, but you did say there are activities in the valley so would I be able to just come up and easily find something to do in the area around the mountain?

Staff: Well there is XX cross-country and I know they offer a lot of summer stuff. They're right in the village below us, there is a link from us at We don't list the details of the activities but we do post what local businesses offer. So if you go to our website you should be able to find something.

SAM: Thank you, that should hopefully lead me to somewhere, I'll give that a try.

Staff: No problem, have a nice day.

Rating: 4

Comment: The women tried to give me answers but seemed to get caught in the confusion of explaining to me that the valley offered activities but not the mountain itself. Helped as much as she could without knowing many details and sounded like she was caught off guard. Ultimately led me to the website as a last resort to let me do the investigating myself which didn't lead me very far.

Large area, Quebec

Homepage summer graphics: yes

One click to summer activities: yes

First Contact: French and then English automated service. Put on hold: thanked me for my patience and apologized for being put on hold.

Answering phone: Women, friendly but pushy.

SAM: stated question.

Staff: For where? Here?

SAM: Yes.

Staff: Well how many kids do you have?

SAM: Two. They're 5 and 12.

Staff: When were you planning to come? Are you looking for a condo or hotel, how long were you planning to stay?

SAM: We were planning to come for the weekend and potentially stay Saturday night.

Staff: We do have family specific activities but not during weekends. It does run during the week, and you put your kids into certain activities. They can go on different tours like the canyons and things. It would be OK for the 12-year-old but not for the 5-year-old. Many families do come down for mountain biking though and they would typically choose a hotel with a pool. There are many different hotels you can choose from in the area that have pools for the kids.

SAM: Well OK, but you don't offer any activities during the weekends?

Staff: There's nothing planned except a visit to the duck farm or you can the ride the gondola up the mountain.

SAM: Hm well all right then. (Totally confused at this point of why a mountain with so much on the website is saying they don't offer any weekend activities?) Is there information on your website about what is offered?

Staff: Yes, of course, the website site is and you'll be able to find everything you need.

SAM: Thanks so much.

Still so confused with the no weekend activities that I actually called back to find out why after checking the website and finding out they do offer everything imaginable on the weekends.

SAM: Explained my confusion, admitting I may have heard wrong.

Staff: Oh, well, we only offer the XX during the week for families.

SAM: (left in the dark again) Well what exactly is the XX?

Staff: It's specifically for kids during the week where kids can go on their own with the tours and take different adventures.

SAM: Oh, OK, but I checked your website and you do offer all the other general activities during the weekends.

STAFF: Oh yes, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, numerous things to do. There are just no kid-specific tours or adventures.

SAM: OK, thanks so much, I understand it now.

Staff: No Problem.

Rating: 5

Comment: Whew, quite the investigation to figure it all out. The website explains everything in explicit detail but the first customer service rep was completely lacking in that area going from briefly mentioning the XX to advising me to stay in the hotel with a pool. Why would I want to hang out at an indoor pool during a summer day? Too back and forth and not enough direction of what they could offer me.

Large mountain, B.C

Homepage summer graphics? yes

One click to summer activities? yes

First Contact: Automated machine. Gave daily hours right away. Chose general inquiries.

Answering phone: Women. Friendly and thorough but talked like she was in a race.

SAM: Stated question

Staff Well I mean at the moment this is actually our first day for summer activities so the mountain is just opening now for all of that. The bike park opens completely on the 24th and the sight seeing tour on the 21st. If you're coming up this weekend there is glacier skiing and some of the bike park. I don't how young the kids are but there is an adventure zone that includes just about everything.

SAM: Well yes, I was just going to ask about that, my kids are 5 and 12 so is there plenty for them to do either has a family or age-specific activities?

Staff: Oh yeah, the adventure park has everything from mini golf and a climbing wall to the luge, trapeze, balloon castle and slide, a big walking maze, bungee trampolines and so much more. (So much more? Holy smokes, what else could you pack into an adventure park?!)

SAM: Oh, wow and even my 5-year-old can participate?

Staff: Oh yeah, they'll be able to do almost all of it.

SAM: Great, perfect.

Silence. Waiting for anything more from her like a website referral but it didn't happen.

SAM: Well then, can I get further information about all of this from your website?

Staff: Oh yes, the website has everything with the all the details and additional things you can book that you actually can't book from this number. There's also white water rafting, ATV-ing, sledding hmm what else do we have, glacier hikes , and oh yeah, horseback riding you can find on the website, too. (My gosh, this place is like super ski mountain.)

SAM: So much, good to know. Thanks again.

Staff: You're welcome, anytime. I hope you do come visit us.

Rating: 8

Comment: Since this place could be a substitute for Disney World, (and after checking it out I'd almost rather go here) the customer rep did a good job of trying to squeeze everything in while also trying to accommodate my very open ended question with the kids. Talked a little too fast though and really made me have to pay attention if I wanted to catch everything.

Medium area, MA

Homepage summer graphics? yes

One click to summer activities? yes

First Contact: Automated machine. List of options: waited on the line for resort operator.

Answering phone: Woman, nice, moderately patient

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, well you could uh. (silence) Well, when were you planning on coming up?

SAM: I'm not really sure yet, over a weekend, probably in July.

Staff: Well, we have an Alpine slide and in the first or second week of July the mountain coaster should be done. We have Mini gold, mountain climbing, a bouncy bounce, hiking, mountain biking along with some other general outdoor activities.

SAM: That all sounds wonderful, and like I said I'll be with my family and I have two kids who are 5 and 12. So are there age-specific activities for them or family-specific activities in general?

Staff: All the activities are good for kids. Your five-year-old would have to be accompanied by an adult though for the mountain coaster and the Alpine slide.

SAM: Oh OK. What exactly is an Alpine slide and the mountain coaster?

Staff: Do you have Internet access?

SAM: Yes I do.

Staff: OK, well good. You can log onto where there are all the descriptions of our activities along with the prices and everything.

SAM: OK, so I can go to your website and find out everything I need to know?

Staff: Oh yeah, you'll be able to find everything you need.

SAM: Thanks so much.

Rating: 8

Comment: Very accommodating and was the first to actually lead me to the website where I would be able to find out all the info. Friendly, yes, but definitely used the website as their ticket out of having to manually answer my questions and explain what things were.

Large area, Utah

Homepage summer graphics? yes

One click to summer activities? yes

First Contact: Automated service. Seven options, chose operator.

Answering phone: Woman. Patient, friendly, made her best attempt.

SAM: Stated question

Staff Well, I can transfer you to reservations for more info. As far for kids go though we have the little adventure camp which is basically just a day care and once a week they take them off-site to a recreation center for swimming and things or to the aviary.

SAM: I was planning on weekends actually and was just curious what activities you had either for families or kids specifically.

Staff: Well, we don't have planned activities during the weekends but we have all-season adventures that the kids can take part in like a boating trips and so on.

SAM: Oh, well yes, I meant what in general do you have that my family could participate in if I came on a Saturday, let's say.

Staff: Of course. Well there are many other activities in the area that you can take part in when you come. There is an Alpine slide and bungee trampolines and also a new attraction we have which is the XX. It's like the Alpine slide but made for older kids so it's a little more aggressive. We also have horseback riding and hot air balloon rides.

SAM: OK, but I'm a little confused, you said all of that was in the area but not at the mountain itself?

Staff: Right, they aren't actually on the mountain but right in the area, so if you come to the mountain we have an adventure desk where you can get all the information you need about any of the activities.

SAM Oh, all right.


SAM: Well, can I go online and find out more about what you have to offer?

Staff: Oh of course! You'll be able to find out everything. (Haha, so excited!then why didn't you mention that before you went dead quiet and left me to think of it myself?? And no actual web address mention either. No good.) Did you still want me to transfer you to reservations?(What for?)

SAM: Oh no, I'm all set, you gave me a good overview. Thank you.

Rating: 6

Comment: Not a bad overview once we got through the confusion of what "family activities" meant and what exactly I was asking her. Good attempt to give me a basic understanding of what they had. However, failure to mention the website to keep my interest going gets minus points.

Medium area, PA

Homepage summer graphics? no

One click to summer activities? yes

First Contact: Automated service-listed two options, chose general information.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK where are you staying?

SAM: I'm not sure if I'm staying yet, I just wanted to see what you had to offer.

Staff: Well on site, when you rent a town site, you have access to the beach or at XX village you'll have access to the pool and the tennis courts.


SAM: Well OK then, those sound OK.

Staff: Well yeah, and there's a state park right in between the two mountains, with hiking, biking and a beach area there.


SAM: OK then, thanks so much.

Rating: 3

Comment: Just not enough substance to keep my attention. Didn't even feel like asking about a website because everything wasn't really at the mountain. Total turn off with lack of personality.

Large area, N.M.

Homepage summer graphics? no

One click to summer activities? no

First Contact: Automated machine, waited for assistance.

Answering phone: Woman, friendly, but a bit impatient and seemed like the task of answering this simple question was exhausting.

SAM: Stated question

Staff:We don't have anything going on yet this weekend. Umm, the following wait, what is the date today?

SAM: Uh, the 5th.

Staff: OK, so we don't open the lifts for the summer until the 22nd. Until then there's hiking, and a restaurant that's opens everyday.


SAM: OK, well what do you have once you open the lifts on the 22nd?

Staff: We'll start our lifts then and we'll open the Eurobungy and tower maze and we have disc golf.

SAM: Oh wow, those sound interesting what are they?

Staff: Well Eurobungy is have you ever seen what gymnasts practice with? With the, ah, side straps, that are hooked to huge bungy cords that go up and they can do all these flips and crazy things in the air all over the place? (Cripes, that's a mouthful, and, no do I want my kids doing "crazy things in the air all over the place.")

SAM: Um, I have a vague idea.

Staff: Well yeah, so that's a Eurobungy. Then a tower maze is just a bunch of big rubber bands almost that crisscross up this giant tower and the kids have to maneuver their way to the top if they can.

Silence. (Again. Will anyone learn??)

SAM: So you have those three activities and then hiking?

Staff: Yes hiking, and if you have kids (kids? Did I not mention that in the initial question?) with you I'd highly recommend the hiking because it's a nice gradual hike and there's many little streams and all the flowers are out, so it's just beautiful right now.

Long period of silence-tried to hold it out this time and see if she'd get the clue, but of course, no.

SAM: Well, OK then, the hike does sound nice. Can I go on your website to find out the details and what not?

Staff: Well yeah, our website is, but you can also go to the valley website to find out more about area activities or the chamber of commerce website to look at the national forest activities where you'll be able to find out loads of info.

SAM: Um, well OK then. Thanks.

Rating: 6

Comment: The women attempted to be helpful but what a nutty description of the Euro bungy a nervous or hesitant mom wouldn't let her kids go near the thing. Also, she gave the website information without realizing that I had already checked and there were no summer activities links.

Large area, Utah

Homepage summer graphics? yes

One click to summer activities? yes

First Contact: Live person!! Woman, sort of friendly, sort of really dry.

SAM:Stated question

Staff: One that we will have begins in the middle of ah Sep- ah Jul- ah begins in the middle of June. So yeah, June. We have mountain biking with a couple lifts that will take you up and you can go hiking as well. The lifts will also take you from the main lodge to mid-lodge where there is a restaurant. (Silence) Umm, outside of that there will be the occasional concerts and that sort of thing.


SAM: Uh well, OK. Like I said I am coming with my family, so I have two kids, one that is five and twelve and was just wondering if there were age-oriented activities or are biking and hiking all that you offer?

Staff: Well, they do have a children's camp that you can put them in for the day and they'll do other activities. I can transfer you over to the children's center if you'd like to sign them up?

SAM: I don't think I want to do that just yet, I really just wanted to see what you had. (Waiting for some kind of response but of course, nothing.)

SAM: Would I be ale to go to your website and find further information about all of this?

Staff: You should be able to(should? That's like saying I should be able to get a double cheeseburger at McDonalds) under and then select summer where you can also go to events.

SAM: OK thanks.

Staff: Sure.

Rating: 4

Comment: I would have gotten more enthusiasm out of an automated voice the woman barley had a personality and responded in a "it is what is so take it or leave" sort of way. I'll leave it thanks.

Large area, ME

Homepage summer graphics? yes

One click to summer activities? no

First Contact: Automated machine-eventually connected to guest services.

SAM: Stated question

Transferred to reservations.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: OK, let me see, um actually I going to put you over to the concierge. Hold on and let me see who is down there. Hold on one second please.

Put on hold for 30 seconds. Recording about how great the mountain is and what you can do there.

Answering phone: Competition department answering machine (competition dept. what the??). Called back. Got customer service rep again.

Answering phone: Woman, friendly.

SAM: stated question

Staff: OK, let's take a look here, are you staying overnight?

SAM: I'm not sure yet, I wanted to see what you had first.

Staff: As far as right on the mountain we have a new golf course and you can do mountain biking and hiking. We have two resort hotels and there are condos. Most people stay in the hotels because the condos aren't air-conditioned. So you have a couple options. (That whole lodging thing came out of nowhere.)


SAM: Well OK, but I'm really just trying to find out about your summer activities. I have two kids who are 5 and 12 and was wondering if there was anything else for them?

Staff: Oh, OK, well if you go into the town there's laser tag, bowling and a water slide park. That's less than 10 minutes from us. There's also the access road where you can find canoeing, kayaking and ATV tours.

SAM: So there isn't much for my 5-year-old on the mountain then?

Staff: No, not as much, there is more for your younger one in town.

Silence. I'm starting to hear crickets in the phone.

SAM: Well, OK, can I go on your website to find out further information about what you have to offer?

Staff: Of course, it's So if you wanted to stay in the hotel you can do that. The rates are $135 if you wanted a regular room with a queen size bed or if you wanted to go a little bigger for some more room we offer suites with a full kitchen, queen bed and living room with a pull-out couch or with a connect room. That would run around $158 per night. (Why is she still rambling on about hotel rooms?? I'm confused.)

Rating: 5

Comment: Not very impressed. The customer service rep really strayed from my question which I had to bring up a couple of different times and her attachment to trying to sell me lodging turned me off a little. And of course, had to ask for the website address.

Medium area, CA

Homepage summer graphics? no

One click to summer activities? no

First Contact: Automated machine, 8 options, chose operator.

Answering first: Woman, friendly, seemed a little stumped.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Um, ah we don't have any, ah, public activities. We do have weddings and family reunions, things like that on the weekends

SAM: OK, so you don't offer anything like mountain biking or anything like that?

Staff: No no, there's hiking nearby but that's about it.

SAM: Well OK then, thank you though.

Staff: Of course. Bye!

Rating: 7

Comment: The woman was nice and did attempt to make an effort to satisfy my question but there was obviously just nothing there.

Large area, Idaho

Homepage summer graphics? yes

One click to summer activities? yes

First Contact: Real person!!! Woman, very friendly, could very well be a children's entertainer.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Oh! (So excited already, good start). Well, we have mountain biking, we have golf, we have hiking, we have lake access, we have boating rentals and we have kayaking from that lake access. We have-do you have computer access?

SAM: Yes I do.

Staff: OK great, if you want to log onto our website you'll be able to find out all about our summer activities. The address is and it'll list everything. You'll just want to go to the summer link and we are a four-season resort so you'll also be able to find everything about lodging as well. Just let me know if you have any further questions and I can transfer you to someone who can help you.

SAM: OK, sounds perfect, thanks. I'll check out your website.

Rating: 9

Comment: Got off the phone actually wanting to go look at the website and find out what else they have because the girl was just that nice and seemed like she really wanted to help. It's all in the attitude which she receives an A for. Slight deduction for rambling a bit at the beginning.

Medium area, MN

Homepage summer graphics? yes

One click to summer activities? yes

First contact: Automated service, 9 options. NO idea which one to pick. Decided to choose "campground" option.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Um, at our camp ground? Nothing. Yeah ya know, we have a shower house and water hook-ups but no playground, no pool, no activities, hehe. (The best thing to do is laugh at yourself. Having no problem being able to offer me nothing but camping)

SAM: OK, that's fine so it's just camping then. Does the mountain itself offer anything else.

Staff: Um, no they don't.

SAM: Well OK then, thank you though.

Staff: Sure, of course.

Rating: 5

Comment: OK, the woman was completely polite and almost proud that camping was all they had. However, I checked the website and they do offer biking, hiking and local paintball. I was not satisfied yet, a spy never is.

Called back: Explained that I checked out the website and saw there was hiking and biking and paintball. Put the woman on the spot to see what would happen. Didn't give her any leads

Staff: Um, oh boy, yeah that has to be changed, the people just haven't-well so there is no paintball, there hasn't been for years. I should do something about that about though. As for mountain biking there are couple trails close by to the campground, but they are limited.

SAM: All right, so no paint ball and only a few biking trails then?

Staff: Oh yeah, no more paint ball, sorry.

SAM: It's OK, thanks for clearing it up.

Staff: Your welcome, bye!

Comment: OK, a total F for having absolutely no idea their website was telling a completely different story, especially when the site is pretty developed. However, still very nice on the phone and actually pleasant to talk to.

Rating: Still a 5. 

Medium area, VA

Homepage summer graphics? yes

One click to summer activities? yes

First contact: Automated machine, 6 options. Ended up having to dial another number to get anywhere.

Answering phone: Woman, nice, but in a rush.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Well we've got golf courses, we've got tennis courts, hiking, we've got an outdoor pool, indoor pool, exercise facility, our out-of-bounds program has in-line skating, BMXing, mountain biking, we've got a climbing wall, paintball, putt-putt golf, (Wow, breathe!) we've also got lake facilities with swimmin' and fishin' and road bikes I think I've hit all the hot ones, haha.

Silence, again.

SAM: Wow, I guess you did cover just about everything. Is there a website that I can go to find out all the details?

Staff: Yes, of course, it's and you'll be able to look at everything. Oh yeah, and I forgot about horseback riding. (Let's not forget the horseback riding, just in case I plan to stay forever and run out of things to do)

SAM: Sounds great, thanks.

Rating: 8

Comment: Kept it simple by running off everything they have, which isn't bad because it does let you know exactly what you asked for in the most basic way. Yet this lady was in a hurry a little too much and sounded a little detached was trying to be friendly, but not trying to connect with me.

Small Day area, Midwest

Home page summer graphics: Yes

One click to summer activities Yes

Phone First Contact: automated machine, four options, chose summer activities.

Answering phone: Automated person (melancholy voice. . .sounded like his automated dog just died). Gave hours of all activities-mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, alpine slide, mountain tram. Listed adventure center offerings of rock wall climbing, canoeing and kayaking. Said that all activities are weather dependent and to please call the adventure center for more detailed information at 555-555-5555. Very loud beep when the message was over and then hung up on me.

Rating: 4

A little odd that they didn't give you an option right away of talking to a person about summer activities. Maybe you shouldn't solely rely on automated machines as your first impression. Big turn off.

Large area, N.J.

Home page summer graphics: Yes

One click to summer activities: Yes

First Contact: automated service, 6 options, chose guest services.

Answering phone: Young woman, very friendly, patient. Did not rush.

SAM: Stated question

Staff: Well we have the water park, um, there's ya know a lot of farms in the area to go to and there's hikes to go on. We have lots of state parks and beaches and horseback riding. Were you looking for something specific that you wanted to do?

SAM: Well, not particularly. I'm coming with my family and I have two kids who are 5 and 12. I was just wondering what you had in terms of maybe age-oriented activities or even anything for the whole family.

Staff: Oh well, yeah, it's very family-oriented. All the activities can accommodate families, even the water park. There are certain slides and sections for different ages and so on.

SAM: All right, well it sounds like there's enough to keep us busy.
(Silence. . .will any customer service rep ever understand not to just leave the customer hanging?!)

SAM: Sooo, is there further information on your website where I can get more details?

Staff: Yes, of course there is, you can log onto and we have special lodging passes, if you choose to book online, that goes along with the special water park passes that you can get for the whole family, if and when you decide to come. It's a big special combination.

SAM: Well, OK then, thank you.

Rating: 7

The women was very nice and did seem to try her hardest to tell me what I wanted/needed to hear. But, the silence at the end of the conversation where I had to ask about the website gets minus points.

Medium area, MI

Home page summer graphics: Yes

One click to summer activities: Yes

First Contact: Woman's voice, "where may I direct your call." It sounded so much like an automated voice that I waited a couple of seconds to let my confusion pass.

SAM: Uh, hi. Stated Question.

Staff: OK, I'll transfer you over to the activities center.

Answering phone: Young male. Really sounded like he hated his job at this point.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: This coming weekend we'll have the pool open, so it'll be an outdoor water park. When were you planning on coming?

SAM: I'm not really sure yet. When I do though I was thinking for the day on Saturday, something like that.

Staff: Aright, after the 16th the outdoor program will begin, but before, we'll have limited things. But after the 16th, the activity park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., we have mountain biking that is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., there is a fitness center which is also open all day, a climbing wall that is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., we have movie rentals and we can setup canoes and kayaks if we have advance notice, (whoa buddy, take a breath) we have great hiking on the mountain, too.

SAM: OK great, that all sounds fabulous to me. Is all of this offered right at the mountain or are some of these local area activities?

Staff: They're all right here at the mountain base.
(Waited to be directed to the website or given some sort of lead. Really long pause. . .really long. Tried to see if I could win this time. Nope.)

SAM: Alrighty then, is there a website I can go to to find out more?

Staff: Yeah, there is. (Silence. . .no kidding.)

SAM: (Laughing) Good to know, is there an address?

Staff: Uhh yeah. . .it's (The silence returns.)

SAM: OK, thanks then, bye.

Rating: 5.5

I decided right then that customer service reps should be out-of-work children's entertainers so there's always some color to the conversation, or some sense of interest in the customer. This guy obviously failed, I would say miserably but he did give me a decent run down of what they had and when it was open. But that is all I'm giving him a little bit of credit for. I got the feeling he was suffering through this job to get a free pass next season. . .cry about it dude.

Large area, VT

Home page summer graphics: Yes

One click to summer activities: Yes

First Contact: Automated service, waited for customer service rep.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Right now the only thing that is open is the toll road where you drive your car up and take a hike. Summer attractions open June 24.

SAM: OK. Well can I talk to someone who can give me some information on them?

Staff: Sure, hold on.

Answered: Woman, very nice and patient. Caught her a little off guard but handled it well.

Staff: Well, we have an Alpine slide (silence-not a bad first answer, but a little funny).

SAM: OK, what exactly is that?

Staff: (Silence at first), Um what I would recommend is going to our website. The website is and it'll give you a better understanding of what that is specifically, along with all our other activities.

SAM: Oh, OK, I can do that.

Staff: OK good-once you get to our website, click on "Summer at xxx" and then click into mountain activities. It'll give you detailed information about what we offer, including ticket prices and it also has pictures so you'll be able to see everything.

Rating: 7.5

She knew right away it would save us both time if I went to the website. I liked it best that she advised the website before I asked, even gave me directions through the website. Quick phone call. . .but the women was kind, patient and kept it short and sweet.

Medium area, N.Y.

Home page summer graphics: Yes

One click to summer activities: Links to regional activities, but it's a dead end-no following link.

First Contact: Automated machine that talked about next year's ski pass deadline and then droned on and on and I stopped listening. I was then transferred two times by the automated machine after choosing options which seemed to be appropriate. Eventually told to leave a message. Gave up and hung up.

Rating: 1-just because I feel badly giving a 0.

It was so annoying that I had to hang out on the phone for 10 minutes and, ultimately, get nothing out of the phone call.

Large area, CO

Home page summer graphics: Yes

One click to summer activities: Yes

First Contact: Automated machine, chose activity information option.

Answering phone: Younger girl, very polite, enthusiastic.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Uhhhh, let's see here, are you coming this weekend?

SAM: Well I'm not sure yet. I just wanted to see what activities you had to offer.

Staff: Well, your best bet would be to come up later on this month. The mountain actually opens everything on the 27th. As far as activities go we have hiking, mountain biking and we also have things for the kids, let's see if I can find everything (short pause. . .wondering exactly where she is looking). Right, so we have one of those bunchy uh. . . I'm trying to figure out exactly what they are called, we have the paddle boats and we're also going to be offering go-carts. Another cool thing that we have is called XXX. I'm guessing you're familiar with the mountain?

SAM: I've skied there a couple times but I've never come during the summer.

Staff: All right, well we also have horseback riding and we have a climbing wall just for the kids. Oh right, here it is. . .it's called the power jump-that's the bungy thing. We have a mini-golf course as well for the kids.

SAM: Oh yeah great. I was going to say, my two kids are 5 and 12 so I wanted to see what activities they could participate in but it sounds as though you have lots.

Staff: Oh yeah, you have almost everything for the kids. Then there is an everyday pass for $49 with unlimited access to just about everything. Oh yeah! We have a Diggler which is a mountain scooter, which is really awesome. So the kids can take that all over the mountain on the trails and really have a blast. So the passes have unlimited access to the boats, climbing wall, and free equipment if they wanted to take a bike and ride it down mountain on the soft course.

SAM: Oh, great, that pass sounds like a good deal.

Staff: Oh yeah, it's definitely worth it. Then it's also really nice if you stay later into the night when you can lay under the stars and watch a movie on the big screen. It's really awesome for the family. That's the XX outdoor activity that I was telling you about.

SAM: Well OK then, all sounds wonderful. . .Can I go to your website to find all the details and potentially book something?

Staff: Oh, of course, that's actually where I've been looking this whole time.

SAM: Thanks very much.

Staff: Any time, I hope you come visit us.

Rating: 9.5

Minus .5 for leaving me to ask about the website, but I got off the phone ready to pack the kids. The girl's enthusiasm really was the icing on the cake. She wanted to be as helpful as she could and cover as much as she could, and she took her time. She really seemed excited for me to come and visit. Real point booster: She was looking at the website the whole time-it gave me evidence that I could follow up on all of the activities she mentioned to really give me some good details.

Identity revealed: Copper Mountain.

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