Skiers planning a trip to select New England resorts this winter can now buy cheap lift tickets in advance at
Best known for selling low-priced bulk quantities of items like ketchup, Cheerios, and canned tuna, Costco recently began selling packages of lift tickets and lunch vouchers to the Booth Creek Resorts ski areas, including Waterville Valley, Loon Mountain, and Cranmore Mountain Resort.
''If you used the tickets for February vacation week, it would be big savings," said Kathleen Bennett, database marketing director for Booth Creek Resorts.
The Costco packages represent one of the first forays by ski resorts into traditional retail stores. Most lift tickets are sold at resorts, with a small percentage purchased online or at hotels near the resorts. The Costco packages not only extend the sales reach of the resorts, they also work as advertising, effectively reminding shoppers buying groceries that the slopes are just a couple of hours away.
For Costco, headquartered in Issaquah, Wash., with stores locally in Dedham, Avon, Everett, Waltham, Danvers, and Nashua, N.H., the lift ticket packages are another way to offer savings to members, who pay an annual membership fee of at least $45.
Ticket sales appear to be a growing business for Costco. Locally, the warehouse club chain already sells AMC movie tickets, charging $18.99 for two adult movie tickets and two popcorns. On www.costco.com, Costco sells tickets to theme parks in the Western states as well as tourist, golf, and dining passes.
Of the local ski offerings, the Loon and Waterville packages offer the greatest savings. The Waterville Valley package features two lift tickets and two $10 lunch vouchers for $84.99. Two lift tickets alone at Waterville would cost $88 most days and $98 on holidays.
The third package available at Costco features four passes for the tubing park at Cranmore along with four $10 lunch vouchers for $89.99. The tubing passes alone would cost $76 at the resort or online.
One thing to remember about the Costco ski packages is that they don't save the user any time at the resort. The packages are basically vouchers that must still be redeemed for ski lift passes upon arrival, so you can't just pull up and start skiing.
Currency settlementTo settle charges that it failed to adequately disclose a 2 percent fee on foreign currency conversions,
American Express did not admit any wrongdoing and said it was settling the class action lawsuit to avoid the cost of litigation. The suit focused on whether American Express adequately disclosed that customers who used their card to purchase something abroad were assessed a fee for having the payment made in local currency and the customer bill issued in US dollars.
The settlement follows a court ruling in April 2003 in California that held that Visa and MasterCard did not do enough to disclose their currency conversion fees to customers. Rebates in the California case, which is being appealed, could total as much as $800 million.
US Airways concernsMeg Pier of Nahant landed frequent-flier tickets from US Airways for her honeymoon to Europe this July, but now she's wondering what to do if the airline goes under.
''I'm wondering if they'll be around then and, if not, where that leaves us," Pier said.
There's not much she can do but hope for the best. If US Airways folds, a federal law requires other carriers to carry a failed airline's ticketed passengers on a ''space available" basis.
Federal officials say the law covers all ticketed passengers, including those with frequent-flier tickets, but it's unclear how the reticketing process would work if a large airline were to go out of business. Keep your fingers crossed, Meg.
Bruce Mohl can be reached at email@example.com.