Locals Duped by Compagnie du Mont Blanc Ads?

According to an article published in Monday’s edition of regional paper Le Dauphiné Libéré (titled in English “With or Without Courmayeur” - page 7) the new season and yearly passes for the Mont Blanc ‘Unlimited’ area are actually quite the opposite and do not include Courmayeur. Pistehors.com reader Rich already told us that the Mont Blanc unlimited season pass advertises access to Courmayeur all season long. However when he went to buy his pass the CMB revealed that it was a “mistake” in the advertising.

Angry residents are being denied even a few measely day passes in the Italian resort, whilst tourists buying 1-15 day packs do get 1-2 days in Courmayeur as part of their ‘Mont Blanc Unlimited’ packs. What angers residents the most, is that many who were yearly or season pass holders last year, received a mailing from the Compagnie du Mont Blanc with a big glossy color folder gloriously explaining the 2 new passes and how wonderful the new ‘Unimited Pass’ would be. The offer was the talk of the Chamonix valley and despite a hefty price hike everyone was really excited about the offer.

This brochure clearly states that Courmayeur is on the new ‘Unlimited’ pass, and clearly shows in red the outline of the area served by the ‘Unlimited’ pass as inclusive of Italy and makes a great deaol of ‘unlimited’ cross border access. Readers were invited to mail in their order to recieve a discount on the new passes before November 20th. Anyone doing so will probably not find out that they cannot ski in Courmayeur without paying extra until they receive their passes or if they read about it in the press or by word of mouth.

Quelle horreur to those who have gone to the caisses at the Montenvers train station to buy their lift pass in person - they are told that Courmayeur is NOT included!! Residents who have asked for AT LEAST what a tourist would get (such as a day pass for Courmayeur) are also told NO!

They never miss an opportunity with anti-English rhetoric in the Dauphine - the article takes great pains to point out that the name of the new pass is Anglicized and that it was probably an idea created by a Parisienne marketing company, and goes on about how great English speaking ‘freeriders’ on holiday for a week or two will feel with their new pass which gets them to Courmayeur (in comparison with local season pass holders who are now gritting their teeth in rightous anger).

Why not instead direct anger at a more worthy target such as the leeches at the Compagnie du Mont Blanc who launched this massive and misleading advertising campaign at the local population in a clear attempt to sell locals more of the expensive passes without letting them realize just how little they were getting for their money (while at the same time taking all the fun out of the cheaper pass by removing access to the Aiguille du Midi)?

The paper made no attempt to speak directly to or quote directly the Compagnie du Mont Blanc spokesmen, but the opinion piece says that the cashiers when asked just blame a ‘marketing error’ for the problem.

So can the Compagnie personel not READ their own literature before they mail out this advertisement to hundreds of locals? Or was it in reality a clever way to get more people to buy the more expensive pass without realizing how badly they were being treated? Because what has really happened is this for season’s pass holders:

1. The old Cham Ski pass is now without access to the Aiguille du Midi so is an unappealing option to the serious skiers.

2. The old Cham Vallee pass costs quite a bit more dosh than last year, and all you get for that hefty price hike compared to last year is the top station of the Grandes Montets thrown in. Big Deal. The queues there are so long most of the time that it is actually not very useful. You are not given access to ski at Courmayeur, which on the other hand the average tourists do get on their 1-15 day ‘Unlimited’ passes.

Why not call this one the ‘pay more and get less season’s pass’ instead? This is a slap in the face to the local population and seasonaires who have had to suffer rising costs of living, rents and properties (and declining amounts of reasonably priced restaurants and bars in the region, but a rise in pricey exclusive ‘clubs’wink as well as huge price hikes in seasonaire ski passes - and now are told ‘we are not worthy’ of the new link to Courmayeur that the tourists are given.

Come on Compagnie du Mont Blanc - live up to your advertising and give season’s pass holders the Courmayeur that you promised to us - or at the very least you could offer to give us Courmayeur on the (many) days when you shut down Chamonix lifts for avalanche or winds (which is quite frankly what most of us were going to use it for anyhow)!

So all in all, for Chamonix season’s and yearly pass holders, I can safely say the Compagnie du Mont Blanc has royally screwed us all. Merci Beaupoop CdMB.

Further Information

Chamonix lift pass to include Grands Montets

Posted by on Tuesday, 14 November, 2006 at 10:59 PM

Well PH.com is already in the CMB’s bad books for another story so that should fouille la merde a bit. From the feedback I’ve heard the CMB has not been making any friends with their intransigence.

Is it hubris on the part of CMB not to do the decent thing and live up to the marketing? Do they simply have a captive audience? It is not as certain as it seems. Local rider Phil Ingle has left the area for pastures new, will others follow in his ski tracks?

CMB is not the only area feeling the wroth of skiers. Locals in the Pyrenees are furious that both Cauterets and Luz have stopped “Gens du Pays” discounts saying that they are discriminatory under current legislation.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 16 November, 2006  at 12:47 AM

The new Compagnie du Mont Blanc website is up - and still describes the Unlimited Forfait as inclusive of Italie in an UNLIMITED way (not 1-2 days). AND they still invite you to download the form to order a season’s pass AND they still make NO mention that the season’s pass does not include Italy. It is ONLY mentioned to you when you go to buy the pass.

Posted by  on  Saturday, 18 November, 2006  at 12:19 PM

And . . . one further hard to believe thing - for a company which complained of a downturn in tourism last year ... to get their ‘new’ website prices for 06/07 up only on November 15 and only in French (the English site is still ‘under construction’wink is really really pathetic. Do they not realize that people plan their winter holidays AHEAD of time - people will try to book winter holidays in summer - and with no website information on the skiing they are less likel to book Chamonix than a resort who is more ‘with it’ on their marketing skills.

Posted by  on  Saturday, 18 November, 2006  at 12:22 PM

I checked with our lawyer who said that for anyone who bought a lift pass by mail-order or over the Internet based on the information Firechick has described would have a contract with the CMB for skiing in Courmayeur. Obviously a lot would depend on detailed wording of the publicity but is sounds like the CMB are skiing on thin ice with this one.

You may need to contact the repressions des fraudes and/or the association de defence des consommateurs. Obviously this would not apply where you buy a lift pass in person and are told that it doesn’t cover Courmayeur.

It is pretty shabby that many ski resorts can’t keep their websites up-to-date given a core part of their clientelle will use this medium to find information. My particular bug-bears are webcams that go off-line in April to reappear sometime in December and “Flash” sites that are completely unnavigable. The CMB’s website had crashed this morning so I couldn’t have a look at the current T&C of the Unlimited Pass.

Posted by  on  Sunday, 19 November, 2006  at 12:06 PM

Prices up Services Down, what’s new? CMB need the Chamonix’s rep for serious skiing but do little to cater for serious skiers...if they’re throwing in GM top tickets maybe they could do something about the length of wait, what ever happened to thier bin tickets?

Posted by  on  Sunday, 26 November, 2006  at 01:00 AM
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