Some feel duped by gondola offer
Some spectators at last weekend’s MotherLode Volleyball Classic feel they were subjected to an advertising hoax perpetrated by the Aspen Skiing Co.
The hoax, according to reports, involved a letter distributed to spectators and participants at the tournament, held during the Labor Day weekend at various spots around Aspen.
“Welcome to Aspen!” declares the letter, which goes on to express the hope that the tournament was “fun and enjoyable” to all concerned, and invites the letter holder to come for a ride on the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain.
“We would like to invite you to join us on the Silver Queen Gondola,” the letter states. “You will enjoy spectacular views of the Elk Mountain range and the town of Aspen. Hike, explore and discover.”
The last paragraph instructs the letter holder to “please present this letter at our ticket office and receive a $10 gondola ticket. We hope you can join us!”
“Wouldn’t you think they meant a free ride?” asked one local man, who was peeved to discover that when he got to the ticket window, he had to pay $10 per ticket for himself and his family. That’s a $2 discount off the normal ticket cost of $12.
“That’s false advertising,” the man fumed, though the letter does not indicate the holder is entitled to a “free” gondola ride.
Aspen Mountain Manager Steve Sewell, whose name appears at the bottom of the letter, could not be reached for comment about whether any complaints had been lodged by hopeful gondola riders.
But Carolyn Barabe, who works in Sewell’s office, said there has been at least one complaint lodged with the Skico over the matter.
“I actually wrote that letter and Steve signed it,” Barabe admitted. “We’ve done that in the past for every large event. I’ve used probably that same letter for four or five years, and this is the first time we’ve had anybody come in and complain about it.”
The letter is intended to introduce visitors to the idea of taking a gondola ride by offering them the $2 discount, she said, although she admitted that the “girls” passing the letters around at the MotherLode actually misinterpreted the wording to mean the letter holders would get a $10 discount, meaning a gondola ride for $2.
“I had to tell them, `No, it’s not a $10 discount, it’s a $2 discount,” she said with a laugh.
Barabe said the one complaint she knows about firsthand involved a man who was from out of town and was here with his family.
Asked if she thought the wording of the letter might create the wrong impression, she relied, “I’m sure we could rewrite it if it’s a problem.”
Skico spokesperson Rose Abello said that, of the 2,500 Gondola riders logged over the four-day Labor Day weekend, only two expressed confusion about the MotherLode letter.
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The city of Aspen is contributing $1 million to a CDOT project that will see concrete instead of asphalt at the roundabout into town.