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Crystal ski. grrrrgh

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Went to Sweden with Crystal on the 17th of December. Everything fine, hotel great, skiing of what there was, was pretty good too. However the resort did not officially open until the 21st Dec, four days into the holiday and was nothing to do with the weather. I booked this back in August and at no point did Crystal for the six months until we went, mention that the resort wouldn't be open for half the holiday. There were a few lifts open and so we did get some skiing in but our actual hotel, sold to us as ski in/out had its own drag lift which didn't open until the whole resort opened and neither did about 40 of the lifts out 49 I think.

Well I didn't want to make a big deal out of this as we still had a good time and I'm not a professional complainer but I thought I would email their customer services and see what the had to say as we had also booked our ski passes through them as well. Also the shop that my OH and my Son had booked some gear was supposed to be in the hotel but of course that was not open either until the 21st.

So what did they say, well nothing because they ignored the email. I wrote another email asking them to not ignore it and possibly even acknowledge they had received it. Again silence. I considered that I would just swallow this and forget about it until I see that they had very quickly responded to some feedback I'd left on "feefo". There was a patronising statement about the resort not being open stating that"they couldn't control the weather" and that was why the resort was closed. Which was a total lie in the hope it would make me look like a complete idiot who was upset about the weather on my skiing trip.

So now I wondering how to proceed and this is probably about just getting an acknowledgement that in future they would inform people of resort opening dates at the booking stage. I'm not looking for compensation at least I wasn't but now I'm not so sure.

Do I go to some ombudsmen or grow up and get over it coz this is how TO's behave.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@FrequentFaller, title your email (letter) withĒOfficial ComplaintĒ. This they have to log and respond to and will trigger their formal process.

I also wonder if there is any equivalent to the sale of goods act (I appreciate this ISNT goods) which is about being fit for purpose?
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@FrequentFaller, Have they actually done anything wrong, ie, could they argue that itís not their responsibility to ensure the resort and all the lifts are open? I donít know either way, just saying they might say that?
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@NickyJ, I'll try that
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Markymark29,
I'm sure they will say all sorts of stuff when I or if I ever get a reply. Maybe you're right and they could sell lots of skiing holidays during the summer months and say well its not our fault the resort was closed and none of the lifts where open.
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It strikes me that if you sell a skiing holiday, ski hire and llift passes, then skiing, ski hire and lifts ought to be available.

I do think there's an element of caveat emptor too though, given that this is super early season. Someone in the last few years was caught out this way with St Gervais or Les Contamines. Lots of French resorts won't open properly till very shortly before Christmas, whatever the depth of snow.

Yes, complain in a way which is harder for them to ignore - I would, in these circumstances.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@FrequentFaller, I would get it in writing from the resort as to when the scheduled opening was, when it was first announced to be that date i.e. when they put it on their website that the lifts would open, was it changed at any point for any reason etc and then go back to Crystal. I'm not defending them in any way but can't help but think that they wouldn't deliberately set themselves up for problems of this nature. If they did then thats a monumental error?

Hopefully m'learned friend the snowHead TatmansTours will see this thread and give you a steer.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@FrequentFaller, this is entirely unacceptable if this was the official opening time of the resort, announced in advance. Nax in Switzerland does not open when there is no snow. There has been no snow for the last two years - so opened in late Jan. Not so Crans Montana, which has artificial kit, and opened as per the stated official opening date which was on the website from the Summer onwards. Check with the resort. If they had an official opening date and this was later than your arrival then the TO is definitely at fault and has breached contract - ie they sold a ski holiday when skiing was known not to be possible. Far more ambiguous if the resort put back its opening time. Also unacceptable for them not to respond, but entirely normal (bad) behaviour. I found that, after 6 months of complaining to an air carrier in an entirely open and shut case but having no sensible responses, that posting on a consumer website produced an immediate and compliant response. I think that they have robots monitoring the sites. Post clearly about Crystal and the situation and see what happens.
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I think Duved opened 24th November and the VM8 on 1st December. They donít publish an opening date as such. The angle I would take is that as a specialist ski holiday operator, they should know their destinations. The amount of ski lifts and pistes open is always limited that early in the season, and they should have informed you of this. Especially being sold ski-in-ski-out accommodation, as I bet Copperhill Liften (assuming thatís where you were staying) has never been open that early.
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My personal experience leads me to believe that Crystal operate on such very thin margins that you won't get very far. I've had a bad experience with them, after which I vowed never to use them again. They are in the "pile 'em high / sell 'em cheap" end of the market and I don't think they spend as much on staff and staff training as other TOs. We never travelled with them again after the above incident and I suggest that you ask yourself whether you want to, given your experience. I don't think they have a long-term future, especially in conditions of a devalued £.
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@Themasterpiece, I was actually staying at the Tott although I also discussed this issue with some people who were staying at the Copperhill when I was out there. They did say they would also kick up about it, whether they did or not I dont know.

Having just visited the Skistar website it states quite clearly that the VM8 would open on the 1st, the Vm6 on the 8th and the rest on the 21st which included the Tottliften which was our hotels main lift.

I'm not sure when that page was put up but I've emailed them to let me know.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@LaForet, Unfortunately I am actually going with them again on the 24th Feb to the Dolomites.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Had cause to complain to Crystal twice in recent years. Got replies, even pathetic explanations, occasionally verging on apology, but no signs of goodwill or offers of recompense, even when there was definite fault, maybe even negligence, on their part and it could have had serious repercussions. The reality is that they just want your money and don't really give a monkey's about customer care once you're safely transported there and back ( and not always much in-between).
Customer loyalty and reputation seem to matter little, either.

To the OP: check out Consumer Rights Act 2015 on Google. Covers services, not just goods. Other statutory rights also exist which may be of assistance. Sounds to me like there was some misrepresentation in the Crystal advertising / brochure, but only you can really determine if it's enough to take further action, if you have a claim for losses ( probably not if you did get to ski) or a partial refund, for instance.

I will still use Crystal or other TOs, but very much only as a cheap flight/accommodation provider. Don't trust what they write, say, offer or promise otherwise. Caveat Emptor, and check your own resort and other info.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@FrequentFaller, I am back today from Val di Fassa with Crystal. I have a tale to tell, when I am less tired, have more time and no 10 hr shift tomorrow. It involves a 13 hr flight delay on way out, lack
of communication, talk of a 'compensation letter', then no such thing. Last advice given was to email or phone Customer Services to get the process started. To ring, we were told, was the best option. So perhaps you should try ringing?
Time will tell. I will add my story to yours, if you are ok with that, when I get around to it and report back on how well (?!) I do with compo.?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
robboj wrote:
@FrequentFaller, I would get it in writing from the resort as to when the scheduled opening was, when it was first announced to be that date i.e. when they put it on their website that the lifts would open, was it changed at any point for any reason etc and then go back to Crystal. I'm not defending them in any way but can't help but think that they wouldn't deliberately set themselves up for problems of this nature. If they did then thats a monumental error?

Hopefully m'learned friend the snowHead TatmansTours will see this thread and give you a steer.

Precisely this. Resorts that a major TO like Crystal go to typically publish their planned opening times. It could have been that the resort opened late due to conditions, ive gambled on early season before with mixed results (mostly good but a four day trip to les Arcs where only 2 or 3 lifts in resort were running and pistes were awful, we spent most of the holiday in the pub).

The ski hire though, thatís another story.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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I find complaining very publicly on Twitter usually gets companies interested. I've even had success in France where customer service is almost non-existent.
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Have you told them what you think a good remedy would be? It may help if you tell them that you want X, Y and Z in recompense and at least that gives them something to work back from. Lots of people complain in my experience without setting out what they want which leaves a company slightly stymied as they donít know what to give you to make you go away...
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
We've used them three times, previously with mostly minor but annoying issues. Then last year after they told us our accommodation was no longer available ten days before we were due to fly (I'd booked it almost 10 months earlier) and tried to shove us in a shoebox with a tiny refund, I also vowed never to use them again. I posted about it here as many will remember, and lots of people were very helpful which resulted in us able to cancel just the Crystal accommodation altogether but keep the decent prices for the flights and transfer. We were then able to use the refunded accommodation to rent a very very fancy place for less than the Crystal refund so it all worked out better than we could have hoped. Crystal then went on to even screw up the ski passes (firstly gave us none, then the ones they gave us ended up leaving us stranded first day when we found they didn't work!) but after that we had a very lovely holiday.

What made me laugh though was on the transfer bus home, they gave every single person on the bus a "feedback" questionnaire except us! I've also heard others say that after they've had a major issue they don't get a feedback questionnaire either.

I do wonder if posting here invisibly spurred them into action and taking me seriously rather than forcing us to use their shoebox. So I really hope they see this and do the decent thing! Good luck!
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Hit up abta & atol.
If you by any amount over £100 by credit card (not denit card) file a dispute with them under section 75

This is a case of being missold imo
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Following with some trepidation now.. We also go to Val di fassa on 24th Feb with them.

Worried about the tour operator, not being there at the same time as Frequentfaller....
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Out of interest - what dates did your passes have on them? Did you pay for a 3 day pass and get 3 days of skiing or did you pay for a 6-day pass and get 3 days of skiing? If Crystal sold you a 6-day pass for 3 days of skiing then you at least have a case for a refund on the unused days on the lift pass.

The moral of the story is that Crystal are made of the stuff which comes out of dogs' bottoms. They are an awful company and everyone I know who travels with Crystal either (a) has a crap time and never goes with them again, or (b) has a crap time but for some reason thinks that the crapness of it is characteristic of the ski industry not just to Crystal, and books again for repeat crap times living blissfully in the ignorant believe that the crapness is unavoidable.

Can anyone on this thread who books their trips with Crystal please enlighten me as to why you do it to yourselves?
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@dp, Price.. !
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Roguevfr,
As a previous post said, they'll get you out there and bring you back. The rep girls are all quite sweet but fairly ineffectual not really having the power to do much. Having been with them a few times all I would say is don't get persuaded to go on any of their excursions which they will try and convince you of doing on the transfer bus. They are all crap and terrible value for money..
To be quite honest if your expectations are not that high you won't need them. Just enjoy the skiing..
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Some years ago we booked with SkiBug who I think may be on SnowHeads. What a contrast to your story.
We were due to go on the second week of the season. We had booked early. Well in advance of the holiday dates we were contacted by SkiBug who told us that the resort had changed their provisional opening date and we were now due to go on what would be the first week of the season.
The rang or emailed us several times to keep us updated.
We were well aware in advance that the resort may not be fully open.
We were offered the options of changing dates, cancelling or having a partial refund and still going (the first week of the season was cheaper in their brochure and we would now be going on what had become the first week in the season).
We had an excellent time and have recommended SkiBug to others.
They were great.
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@dp, We used Crystal a few years back, largely because they were the only people with space in the hotel we wanted to go to. Price was good and service was excellent. I wouldnít have a problem rebooking with them.

Donít forget that as one of the biggest operators they are bound to get a large number (if not a large proportion) of complaints. Overall, they seem to have a reasonable reputation

http://www.crystalholidays.co.uk/press/crystal-ski-holidays-takes-home-the-trophy-as-best-ski-operator-at-the-guardian-and-observer-travel-awards-2016/
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I have been using Crystal on and off for years.

I have generally found the Reps made a big effort to be helpful. If things did go pear-shaped, it was usually on "Transfer to the Resort" day...where it could quickly turn into barely controlled chaos, as there are so many variables that can go wrong - usually as a result of delayed/re-routed flights.

The exception to that, is when they sacked a Chalet Girl and left a hapless, inexperienced lad in charge of 13 people, without help. It took them a couple of days to find a replacement. We had to talk him down from jumping off the 3rd floor balcony. Toofy Grin
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I've been with Crystal many times - never had a problem and am going again with them shortly. However, I have no need for their reps.

I use a TO mainly for the transfer and the assurance that if something bad happens, they will ensure that I get home : Peace of mind I suppose.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@dp, been with Crystal twice and had no problems. Cheap s/c holidays and exactly the service I expected. It helps that I donít really want anything from the reps except where/when the transfer bus is, a lift pass, an idea of where my room is and what shop I need to pick up skis from (before I had my own).

Twitter is a good place to complain, companies will subcontract their social media to specific companies so there will be some kid on minimum wage trawling through any post about Crystal. At least this gets it seen and theyíll kick it up to Crystals own PR to deal with.
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You know it makes sense.
FrequentFaller wrote:
... Having just visited the Skistar website it states quite clearly that the VM8 would open on the 1st, the Vm6 on the 8th and the rest on the 21st which included the Tottliften which was our hotels main lift.

In that case not sure how much of the complaint is valid. It was early season. The resort was open. Some lifts were open from the start of the week, and the others opened as scheduled during the week. For the first half of the week your accommodation was perhaps not in the most convenient place for the lifts that were running, so you may have needed to use a bus. But it seems likely that the holiday price, for that accommodation in that week, would have taken at least some of those factors into account.

Potentially valid points would seem to be: if it was really sold to you as ski-in/ski-out for the whole of the specific week you booked; and equipment hire from a closed shop.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Ive used them all in the 90ís and in the internet era canít believe that they still exist, and even more so why people use tour operators. Sorry but so many bad experiences, and untrained staff - we stay well away from them. You get what you pay for is my view. If you start from a point of expecting the worst and if you get better then you can be pleased was always my view of volume TO companies Youíve only to look at the people in resort, the margins they operate on and the way they organise transfers to realise from the outset itís a bad experience. Most resort staff are inexperienced and there for one thing, to ski/ board and party...if they can hold down a job between this then youíll be the ones as their customers who have to make do with their moods, poor customer service and late arrivals, plus cooking (thereís another subject altogether)....the high-end specialist ski operators are probably better but donít represent good value in my view. I see their buses floating about and picking up/ dropping off and canít help but laugh. We have friends whoíve used them and are back going indi again, that tells me a lot.

Good luck to the OP I seriously donít think youíll get anywhere though with a complaint, they donít have a service culture and wonít understand (or want to understand) your issue.i hope Iím wrong.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Sun 14-01-18 15:17; edited 1 time in total
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I use them as a way of getting flight, transfer and accommodation in Austria. Not organised enough to book flights when they first go on sale so by the time I am booking the economics donít stack up in favour of DIY. Mostly go end Feb / early March. Might go on a trip to another resort with them if it somewhere we wouldnít spend a week in - trip to Maria Alm offered from Bad Hofgastein and without a car it wouldnít be that easy to do yourself and we have never skied there. Never do any of their non skiing excursions and donít take their ski hire.
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@ecureuil, Well it meant that two lifts where open and 47 weren't which in my book makes it that the resort wasn't open and it makes the lift pass very expensive. Also the main point is that if crystal had pointed out that the resort wouldn't be open for four days I might have chosen another resort. Having not met anybody who had ever been skiing in Are or Sweden for that matter, I presumed as it was so far north and they often have snow from October that everything would be in full swing by mid December. I guess it could be argued that I should of done my own research but as the TO was taking bookings from 17th Decenber why would I think otherwise. If you booked a golfing holiday at a golf club in the US and got out there and 17 of the holes were closed you'd be a bit pizzed off wouldn't you. Or as I said on the OP just put it down to experience.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@FrequentFaller, if one baby lift is open the resorts open, thatís what they do. Thatís not the operator itís the t&cs if the lift companies the world over.
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@FrequentFaller, have you already had a word with them to get their side of the story?
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@alti - dude, the OP has tried, but they are not responding.
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Iím still not clear if the resort was meant to be open and the date slipped due to conditions, or if Crystal just sold a trip where the resort didnít open until part way through the week. I guess the former, in which case it just sounds like bad luck and they could have been better to highlight it...but I canít be alone in actually checking conditions of a resort before I travel there.
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@FrequentFaller, ...oh dear...Squirrel may well be right. If one lift is operating the resort technically is open. The T&Cs for many operators do state this. But there's a different between goodwill and the legal situation - I have had lots of goodwill from companies by being reasonable and calm. Plenty of examples re flights etc ... where being reasonable produces a good outcomes. One memorable was Zermatt, where we turned up having flown for a weekend on the top, in June. We arrived in resort to low cloud, Alpine drizzle and high wind. We walked through the town with skis and boots, getting sodden and feeling glum. At the lift kiosk I deployed my worst French and the cashier laughed and said in perfect English - your accent is good and your French is terrible - we laughed. She explined everything was shut but they would be reviewing it at 9.15am. She then directed us to a local ski shop where she said 'he'll give you a coffee if you say I sent you'. Perfect. As we gathered up kit, a group of youths from across the pond arrived and shouted loudly at her '..WHY IS THE MOUNTAIN NOT OPEN...' - I smiled as she said in perfect English '...I am very sorry I do not speak English...'. At which point the youths all grimaced at each other and trudged back into town. The lifts opened 30 minutes later, we smiled and chatted with the Nice Woman and had a great day on the hill. Didn't see the youth contingent on the hill at any time. Although we did see some unfeasibly skinny Swiss youth teams.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@SnoodlesMcFlude, It was nothing to do with the weather...In fact the first few days when it was shut was better than the days of when it opened.
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FrequentFaller wrote:
... Well it meant that two lifts where open and 47 weren't which in my book makes it that the resort wasn't open and it makes the lift pass very expensive. ...

But the number of lifts isn't really the best measurement ... I don't know Are, but from looking at a piste map the two lifts that were open for the first few days appear to give access to around 10-12 pistes, or something like 10% of the resort. Most places would definitely classify that as "open". Resort lift passes being cheaper up to 19/12 might have been another indicator that there could be some restrictions prior to that date.

I'm not saying you don't have a case - only you know exactly what you were told / promised - but you stand a better chance of getting a result if you stick to any areas where the TO is definitely at fault.
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@SnoodlesMcFlude, he said in the first post that the official opening date was four days into the holiday - that's outrageous that Crystal would make that mistake and then ignore his complaint

I would definitely try facebook, twitter etc usually motivated a company to respond
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