Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fool Me Once, Mother F**kers...

“The Deal” 

Exotic Escape Vacations: Sunday through Thursday - Two Night Stay for Two - Plaza Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Cost - $149.00 

“The Fine Print” 
  • Entire value must be used in a single visit 
  • Reservations required and subject to availability 
  • Merchant cancellation/re-scheduling policy of 72 hours applies; voucher subject to forfeiture 
  • Vouchers include 
  1. Four Show Tickets 
  2. $300 in Slot Play 
  3. In-room 50-minute Swedish Massage 
  4. Daily $25 Breakfast Credit at Hawaiian restaurant 
  • Not valid on existing reservations 
  • Based on double occupancy 
  • Taxes are not included and payable directly to the property upon booking 
  • Children are allowed 
  • Upgrades available 
  • Wifi available 
  • Guest must be 21 to check into hotel 
Want it for free? Get your deal for free when three of your friends buy today’s deal using your personal link below. 

I love a good deal. Who doesn’t? 

So when my sister-in-law’s brother (does that make him my brother-in-law?) sent this deal to my brother through the discount site LivingSocial, encouraging us to buy and make a stay-cation out of it, we were all over it. 

Being a bit of a Groupon junkie myself, I was pretty excited about the idea of spending a few days on Fremont. At the time we planned everything, Tim and I were not exactly getting along, but we were still together and I was thinking it might be nice to have some time away from the house and our normal routine. 

So, even though money has been a little tight, I figured going halfsies on $149 would be fine, especially with the $300 in free play we were to receive. I’ve played mine and Jeremy’s free slot play enough times to know that the return should cover the price of the voucher with no problem. Plus, show tickets and an in-room massage? And free breakfast? Stay-cation, here I come! 

Well, later on that day, after booking the package, Tim and I broke up. My brother was already booking all of the rooms so I figured I would still go along with the plan. After all, two days away from my apartment still sounded like a great idea. And now that the $300 in free play was all mine, I was still okay covering the entire cost of the voucher. 

I’ve never had a problem with the Groupon vouchers I’ve purchased and used. I’ve never before used a LivingSocial deal but how different could it be, right? 

So, this is the point of the story where I use my blog to let everyone know how easy it is to get screwed by a “good deal” when you are dealing with a company that is not focused on repeat business. Now, I will most definitely take responsibility for not asking all of the questions I should’ve before buying the deal. I did take things at face value and thought that what I read in the “fine print” was, in fact, what I was to receive. This is a mistake I will not make in the future. 

We all decided to meet at the hotel at 3pm on Monday to check in together since my brother had booked all three rooms under his name using our different voucher numbers. I got there a little early and decided to get my player’s card so the $300 in slot play could easily be applied to my account. Afterwards, I played a little video poker with my own money, knowing I would be getting a return when my free play was activated. 

Check-in wasn’t bad... a bit of a ridiculously long process, but the Plaza hotel staff was very patient and certainly friendly enough. My brother was starting to show signs of concern as when he spoke to my brother-in-law, who had checked in the night before and was already starting to get some kickback on his vouchers from the LivingSocial help desk that was set up in the hotel. We decided to go see for ourselves what the story was. 

When we got to the help desk, we became inundated with disappointment as we discovered how bad our “deal” really was. 

Remember the fine print? Okay, so this is ACTUALLY what we received for our $149: 

Vouchers include: 

Four Show Tickets 
Yes, show tickets were available. But they were in pairs of two and they were the regular kind of “free” tickets that any promoter on the street gives away. There was a handful of shows, all located on the Strip (nothing downtown) and each one required a drink purchase. So, if I wanted to go see a Beatles cover band, I had to buy two drinks at $9.99 per drink PLUS tax and service fee. So my “free” show was actually going to cost me around $30.00 

$300 in Slot Play 
By far the most disappointing. For one thing, it wasn’t applicable at the Plaza. And it wasn’t $300. It was 300 “promotional credits” to be used at the shit-box Casino Royale located on the Strip. Knowing we were going to be pissed off, we still made the drive down to the strip, fought traffic, found lousy parking and walked the half mile to get to the casino. Once there, we were directed to a bank of machines that took our promotional credits and discovered that the only way to win any money was to hit a jackpot between $1,000 and $4,000. Even if you won anything smaller while spinning the reels, you could not trade those wins in for cash back. You had to play at least $1.00 a spin. We were done with our credits in under 20 minutes. 

In-room 50-minute Swedish Massage 
Ha!! This was cancelled (probably because it was actually going to be free) and replaced with a dining card that is basically a “buy a fine dining restaurant gift card for $100 and only pay $50 for it” kind of crap deal. The guy at the LivingSocial desk tried to make it sound like it was a $100 gift card for a “variety of local restaurants” in the Las Vegas area. But after calling for details, my brother told me that we might be able to spend a little less on a nice birthday dinner for Mom sometime and that was probably about it. Awesome. 

Daily $25 Breakfast Credit at Hawaiian restaurant 
This was the only good thing we received during our stay. Not only did the restaurant let us use it anytime (not just breakfast), but it was actually good food. 

Needless to say, we were angry. But what could we say to the poor schmuck at the table? He didn’t even work for LivingSocial. In fact, he was trying to further “enhance our vacation experience” by trying to get us to take interest in a condo/timeshare. Obviously, he didn’t try too hard given how upset we were. 

My brother-in-law and my dad both gave feedback on the LivingSocial email they received asking “how did you like your most recent LivingSocial purchase?” and I plan on doing the same. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity to blast them publicly as well. 

Oh yeah! And remember this? 

Want it for free? Get your deal for free when three of your friends buy today’s deal using your personal link below. 

We all used my brother-in-law’s link to book our tickets. Guess what? He did not get it for free. What a surprise... 

Now, having said all of that (and deleting the LivingSocial app on my phone, canceling my email updates and vowing to never, ever use them for anything again), I do have a few nice things to say about our stay. 

The Plaza was pretty awesome. I tried to to let what LivingSocial did taint the hotel and casino itself as they really had nothing to do with the overall package. They have recently been through a remodel and I really enjoyed my guestroom and the casino itself. Luckily, they were offering a promotion for new card members where if I earned enough points gambling, I could get up to $180 in free slot play. Like ACTUAL free slot play! (Promotional credits? Are you fucking kidding me?) 

I sucked it up, took some money out of savings and went after the freeplay. I ended up doing well enough to almost break even for two days, not including the $149 I paid for the room. The best part, however, was staying up until 5am the first night gambling with my brother. Mom and Dad had already retired for the night and so the two of us laughed, drank and gambled into the wee hours of the morning. It’s been a while since I’ve had so much fun losing $400. 

However, we were able to get enough points on both of our cards to get our freeplay and it all worked out well enough in the end. 

Additionally, I love Fremont. It was really cool to spend a couple of days down there and be able to grab coffee at The Beat, my favorite new coffee shop in town. The family enjoyed some meals together, I played video craps with Dad, had some great conversations with everyone and even snuck in some one on one time with my friend Whitney. 

Monday night, the family walked around on Fremont and took in the fun downtown atmosphere. 

Fun little basketball set up in honor of March Madness
My brother trying his hand at it... not successfully. :) 
Local mural on Fremont Street 
Almost as good as my deviled eggs... my new favorite snack at The Beat coffeehouse  
Love me some Hennessey's... 
East Fremont is my favorite part of downtown
We definitely made the best of it, that’s for sure. I’m lucky that my family is so kick ass and that we enjoy each other’s company so much. I feel bad because Mom and Dad didn’t win anything and spent way more than they could really afford to since they had planned on being able to have some free gambling money. I feel bad for everyone. My brother-in-law came with his family from Arizona and really got hosed on the deal. 

Definitely a lesson learned. Once again, I am absolutely responsible for assuming the deal was too good to be true and not speaking with a LivingSocial representative before booking my voucher. I will always be sure to do this in the future when I use other discount websites like Groupon or Amazon. 

Blog of a different type... but it had to be done. I know the economy is bad but there is no need to screw people out of their money - no matter how naive they may be.


  1. I knew as soon as I saw the word "timeshare" that this wasn't going to end well... Yuck. You might consider filing a complaint with gaming about the slot play bait-and-switch. As incompetent as they are, misleading promotions are actually something they care about...

  2. Aside from a lesson learned, seems to me that u had a nice staycation....u should enjoy your time away from work more often.

    1. Unfortunately, I checked in Monday and had the night off but had to work Tuesday until 12:30am and then checked out Wednesday. So, not exactly even like a vacation. But, like I said... I made the best of it. :)

  3. Sounds to me that the Swedish massage was cancelled because a hotel employee who is trained in it was on vacation or had the day off which would explain how they were able to offer it for free in the first place. I have gotten duped by the fake slot play bit too, never again. Sounds to me that "living social" will be out of business eventually if this is how they continue to screw people.