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January 05, 2010

RFID Used to Bust Season Pass Fraud

Interesting use of technology that not only makes things more efficient for skiers to get on the lifts, but ticket checkers to catch folks poaching off others' season passes:

VAIL — As skiers shuffle through lift lines at many Colorado resorts these days, all they need to do is point to the pocket holding their lift ticket or pass. New technology — radio-chipped "smart cards" — have done away with the antiquated hole punch and the visual scan.

But the seemingly invisible pass check has given rise to scofflaws who figure lack of eyeball scrutiny means it's easier to sneak onto the hill.

"Some people have the misperception that it's easier because the pass isn't visible," says Greg Morrison, assistant chief with the police at Breckenridge, where the radio-frequency passes debuted this season. "Actually, it's more efficient and it catches more violators."

"What was intended as a customer-service benefit actually had the increased effect of fraud monitoring," said spokesman Jeff Hanle, noting that Aspen Skiing upped the fee for returning a pass involved in fraudulent use to $500. "This year, we are seeing fewer people getting caught."

Resorts and law enforcement say it's hard to know whether the uptick in fraud cases is from more people trying to sneak onto the hill or from the new radio-frequency technology enabling ticket checkers to more easily spot scammers.

Even though skiers do not need to remove their pass from their pocket, ticket checkers can review a host of data from each pass they scan, including a large photograph of the skier.

Vail Resorts designed its own software for lift-ticket scanning, engineering a system that is both efficient — virtually eliminating lift lines — and hawk-like in its search for scofflaws. Scanners get a $50 to $75 bonus for each scam they disrupt.

"Sometimes, all we have to say is the person's name and if they don't turn around, we go deeper and ask more questions," says Eric Simon, head of product sales for Vail Resorts.

I like the idea of a bonus when you catch someone using someone else's season pass. Smart business sense because what average lift operator wants to be a prick about it unless they have some incentive to do so?

I am such a live and let live kind of guy. I would be worthless as a patroler or lift ticket checker person. Poach a closed run, I look the other way unless you are over your head or take crazy unnecessary risk and I have to save your ass. A little ticket fraud... meh...

Then again I would probably be a bad bartender or waiter for the same reasons.

Posted by Justin at January 5, 2010 02:47 PM

Comments

It's interesting to see what they've added to the card data. We've used something similar for awhile where there were automated gates that would check for the RFID pass. It didn't have the whole photo check etc on it though. Only problem for us was the automated gates would... freeze. A lot.

Now we're back to a hand scanned ticket system using the same RFID mechanism. We've found the hand scanners don't work always either (especially on employee passes).

Posted by: Oft-Piste at January 7, 2010 01:42 PM

I AM HEADING TO BRECK NEXT WEEK AND HAVE NO LIFT TICKETS WHAT SO EVER. WHAT DEALS ARE AVAILABLE FOR SKI IN BRECK, KEYSTONE, VAIL AND COOPER MTN?

A FRIEND OF MINE HAS A SEASON PASS, CAN HE BUY ME DISCOUNTED LIFT TICKETS?

NEED A RIDE FROM DENVER TO BRECK..... ANYONE... HELP?

Posted by: RICARDO COELHO at February 9, 2010 07:50 PM