The Money Shot – ski holidays and spoons

Skiing family
They're laughing, but that child should really be in school
"Children only get one chance at education and this makes it so much harder for parents to do the right thing" Russell Hobby, the National Association of Head Teachers
  • | by Kristian Dando

Skiing doesn’t come cheap. Indeed, it wasn’t so long ago that it was a relatively affluent past-time, enjoyed largely by high-profile toffs such as Prince Charles.

Nowadays, thanks to last-minute deals and package holidays you don’t have to be a baller to get on the slopes. But it still costs a fair whack – once you’ve factored in rentals, lift passes, flammable gaudy ski attire, robust long johns and spending money, you’re looking at the thick end of a grand. In fact, the Money Shot wasn’t entirely surprised when it learned this week that some people have resorted to faking that ‘just got back from Klosters’ look.

But for those with sprogs or people who work in the teaching profession, it’s even more expensive, such is the way prices get ramped up during holidays and half term by tour operators.

Indeed, the discrepancy in price between term-time holidays and ones in designated school breaks is so eye-poppingly large that parents will often gladly take the fines (£60 per child, if paid in a week) dished out by local authorities as it still works out cheaper than taking them during the holidays.

This week, ski operator Mountainbase drew the ire of education professionals and generated itself untold column inches (and hey, here’s a few more) when it offered to pay the fines of parents who took advantage of off-peak deals with them.

“Are schools in the UK taking the PISTE? (see what they did there?) We think so!” trumpeted Mountainbase’s Facebook account. “So, we have a special offer... Book a week with children at MountainBase/Inferno we will if you receive a fine from your school/local authority pay the fine on copy of a receipt from yourselves.”

Teachers' groups have been up in arms, as you'd imagine. “This offer is irresponsible. Children only get one chance at education and this makes it so much harder for parents to do the right thing,” thundered Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers.

Which leads the Money Shot to ponder why travel companies don’t just make holidays cheaper during holiday time – the answer, apparently, is supply and demand.

If anything, it’s opened up a heated debate. Let us know your views on Twitter or Facebook.

Short change – Money news in brief

Possibly feeling a bit de-mob happy with an election looming next year, the Liberal Democrats have added ‘ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040’ to their manifesto.

Big six member Eon has been ‘blasted’ by politicians after its profits soared by 26%.

Car buyers are being overcharged to the tune of £200m thanks to stuff like GAP insurance. (Here’s more on the sneaky tricks employed by car dealers.)

It’s all go at the Co-op group, with the chief executive Euan Sutherland walking out and branding his former employer as  ‘ungovernable’.

And finally

The Money Shot tends to take a suspicious view of ‘health and safety gone MAD’ outrage, but even it was aghast this week when it learned of a 16 year-old lad being declined buying a set of spoons from Tesco.

Youngster Liam Whelan was told in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t allowed to buy the spoons –used primarily for potentially lethal activities like eating yoghurt, stirring tea or being used an improvised percussive instrument by kindly elderly men and skiffle musicians – because he was under 18.

“I went over to the self-service till and scanned the teaspoons and the machine wouldn’t let me pay. A member of staff came over and asked how old I was, I showed him my moped licence but he said that I needed to be 18,” recalled a miffed Whelan.

A Tesco suit responded: “We do include a till prompt for proof of age on our self-service tills for some items. We ask our colleagues to use their judgment as to whether this should be applied. In this instance, this was not followed and we apologise to our customer for any inconvenience caused.”

Well that’s that cleared up then.

Join us NEXT WEEK for another THRILLING installment of THE MONEY SHOT.