Barry Nashen Alps

Barry Nashen skiing in the Alps.

I have known Barry Nashen for a very long time. Friends and family merely refer to him as “Schmidt,” for reasons I never understood. Nonetheless, I always great him warmly as “Schmidty Boy!” By day he and his brother Jeff run Nashen Technologies , a go to source for IT solutions and consulting.

Barry is also in extraordinary physical condition, eats healthy and loves the great outdoors. Skiing is among his passions. So when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Station Mont-Tremblant skiiers being denied refunds for their Tonik season passes he sprung into action and became the lead plaintiff in a new class action suit.

The pass gave access to 119 days of skiing between November 22 and April 19. Because of COVID-19, the mountain closed on March 15. That deprived holders of almost a quarter of the days they had paid for.

"Mathematically, I lost 23 per cent of the days, but 80 per cent of the fun was yet to come," said Barry, adding that he prefers to hit the slopes on beautiful spring days rather than the coldest ones in January.

Normally Barry uses his Tonik pass about 20 days per eason. This year he completed about half of that.

"I wrote to customer service in early April to ask for a refund,” Barry explained. “They never responded to my email. It's disrespectful!”

Since his subscription had cost him $567 (including taxes), he is seeking a refund of $129, which represents 23 per cent of the days lost (27 days out of 119). He is also claiming a refund of $21 for the unused portion of the Tonik privilege package, which entitles him to 20 hot chocolates, whereas he used only seven.

The resort offered "a $50 rebate applicable to the purchase of a Tonik pass for 2020-2021, which is completely insufficient and does not correspond to what the law requires in cases of force majeure," lawyer Joey Zukran of LPC Avocats, who is handling the case told La Presse.

In April, another class-action lawsuit was filed in the United States by holders of the Ikon Pass, which serves as a season pass at Station Mont-Tremblant while giving access to the other resorts of Alterra, the U.S. company that bought Tremblant in 2017.

Alterra's competitor, Vail Resorts, was also the subject of a class action lawsuit in the United States. But the lawsuit was dropped because the company decided to offer credits ranging from 20 to 80 per cent to holders of its various tickets and subscriptions, including Whistler Blackcomb in BC.

In Canada, COVID-19 has resulted in cancellations in a host of other areas, without consumers being able to get their money back.

Three class action suits have been launched against airlines. Another is against a dozen companies reselling tickets for shows that refuse to refund tickets for events that have been postponed because of the pandemic, contrary to the Consumer Protection Act.

For my friend Schmidt, this is not all about the money: but the principle.

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