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March 2020

Mountain Spy :: March 2020

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"How can a poor college guy earn a free lift ticket?

THE QUESTION: “I’m a local college student, and I can’t afford a pass right now. Are there any opportunities for me to earn free lift tickets or a season pass? ”

This question aimed to see how staffers react to a poor college kid looking to EARN free skiing—not a poor college kid begging for a handout. A lot of the staffers seemed turned off right away rather than trying to help. Perhaps all they heard was “college student” and “free.”

At this point in the season (late January) it was surprising how many staff members still weren’t moved by the Spy following up with the idea of working there to earn a pass. Help on weekends and holidays? Yes, please. For many, though, preconceived notions about poor college kids seemed to prevail. Others, thankfully, welcomed the opportunity to help the Spy find a job so he could get a pass.

Mountain Spy needs to know what to ask next. Send questions to If we use your question, you are immune for that issue.


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose ski. Then chose customer service.
First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: I’m a, what? Sorry.
SAM: I’m a college student in the area. (Repeated question.)
Staff: The best thing to do is to go to our website. Click on the careers button and see what options are available there for employment. That would be your best bet, because as an employee, you do get a lift pass. So, if you can secure a job here, that’d be your best bet.
SAM: So, working is the best bet to earn, like, a free lift ticket or season pass?
Staff: That is the only way, unless you want to buy one.
SAM: OK. Thank you very much!
Staff: OK, cheers.

Score: 7
Comment: Tough start, but a pretty strong finish. He was straight to the point and directed me where to go for the only way to get a free pass.


Answering phone: Automated system. Chose guest services.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: We don’t. We do, like, discounts on our season passes for college students. Nothing for, like, lift tickets. That’s about it.
SAM: OK. Thanks.
Staff: Yeah, no problem.
SAM: Have a good one.

Score: 1
Comment: I’m looking for a way to EARN a free ticket/pass. Thanks for brushing me off.


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose general.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: There is not. I mean, we did a promotional period for our early bird season passes. We had another offer in November for a deal with four lift tickets.
SAM: I’m looking for how to earn free lift tickets or a season pass. I’m available to work. That would probably be the best bet, for me. I am open weekends and holidays. I don’t know if you guys are hiring at all.
Staff: For that I would have to pass you over to human resources. I mean, when you’re an employee here at the resort, you get a free pass. But I can pass you over to human resources, and we will see if there’s any job openings for you, OK?
SAM: Is it OK if I call them directly?
Staff: Of course. The number is 000-000-0000.
SAM: Thanks! Gave a great day.
Staff: You, too!

Score: 8
Comment: She was very nice, but, once again, the term “earn” didn’t quite get through. After a prod, she did well, and made the right move to get me to HR.


Answering phone: Not sure. No greeting.
SAM: Hello? Is this (resort name)?
Staff: (female) Yeah.
SAM: Great. (Stated question.)
Staff: For? Hold for a little bit. I’m going to pass you to my supervisor.
SAM: OK, thank you. (holding)
Second contact: Male.
SAM: Hi. I’m a college student at X.
Staff: OK.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Just by working here.
SAM: Right on. That’s the only way?
Staff: Yup.
SAM: Are there any open positions right now?
Staff: You know what, go to ABC website. On the employment page, on the bottom of the homepage, there’s a link. I’m sure there’s positions open.
SAM: OK. Thanks very much.
Staff: You bet. Bye.

Score: 2
Comment: Maybe it was a technical error, but who picks up the phone without saying hello? Both staffers were a bit terse, too. Points for directing me to the website, but that’s about it.


Answering phone: Automated machine. Connects to customer service.
First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yes?
SAM: I was just curious if you guys had, like, any options for that. I really can’t afford to pay for these things.
Staff: No, we really don’t. There’s no scholarship, per se, if that’s what you’re wondering about.
SAM: Not looking for scholarships. Do you guys have employment opportunities?
Staff: Yes, if you go online to XYZ website, there is an area on the website in the upper right-hand corner for employment.
SAM: Alright.
Staff: You can go down through there. It actually says “jobs.”
Staff: You can take a look at that and go down through and it kind of guides you through what to do.
SAM: OK. Thank you very much.
Staff: All right. You’ve got it. Good luck.
SAM: Thanks. Have a good one.

Score: 7
Comment: Overall, he did really well. Slight misunderstanding at first, but then guided me to where I needed to go.


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose customer service.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: So, you can work here part time and you get a season pass. Then the other option, I don't know much about it, there's this program called X. That is, like, skiing for people with disabilities and I know you can volunteer with them and I do believe you get a season pass if you commit to a certain amount of days in the season. So that's the two options I know about.
SAM: OK, cool.
Staff: Yup.
SAM: Alright. Thank you very much.
Staff: Yup. Thank you.

Rating: 5
Comment: So close! She was very polite, offered two options right away, and then…left me hanging. Where do I learn more about these opportunities?


Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose guest service agent.
First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: No. Like, like, free? No, we don’t have any of that.
SAM: You guys don’t have any opportunities at all? Like, I’d be willing to work on weekends and holidays if staff get a pass.
Staff: We’re just not… we’re just not hiring right now.
Staff: So, no. Unfortunately, no.
SAM: OK. Thank you very much.
Staff: All right. Have a good day.

thumbs downScore: 0
Comment: This was pretty awful. A fully staffed resort? No. There were jobs listed on its website.


First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Right. So (laughs), there’s two routes. I mean, I’ve only worked here for a couple months, but I do know of these two.
Staff: Number one is to work here. Get like a part-time job, you know, just maybe weekends or something. You get free skiing for the whole season as long as you’re working here still.
SAM: Oh, that’s kind of sweet.
Staff: Yeah, it’s a really nice value if you actually go skiing, unlike me (laughs).
SAM: (laughs)
Staff: The other thing, too, is, um, what’s your major?
SAM: I study marketing. It’s all online.
Staff: Oh, gotcha. Gotcha. I was going to say if it was like a medical major, we have the ski patrol. I don’t know exactly how much they require, if they require a degree or if they require some amount of experience, or if it’s just general first aid and stuff. But I think if you do six weekends or a certain number of weekends working for them, then they give you a free season pass. But that’s all volunteer work there, though. That’s the thing.
SAM: OK. Soooo, that’s the catch, it is all volunteer?
Staff: For the ski patrol, yeah. It’s interesting work, but there’s definitely other opportunities here. You know what? There might be somebody in the office. I’m gonna transfer you to payroll. See if, you know, there’s just some general office work to do or something.
SAM: Can you give me the number, and I’ll give them a call?
Staff: Sure thing. It’s 000-000-0000.
SAM: Great. Thanks! Have a good afternoon.
Staff: Yeah. You, too!

thumbs upScore: 9 (THUMBS UP)
Comment: I appreciate that he took the time to share some options, even if he wasn’t 100 percent on either of them. Super polite and relatable. Ultimately, he made the right move to get me to someone with direct knowledge of the job opportunities. Not quite a 10, but the best score of the lot.

Identity Revealed: Alpine Valley