Leaving Las Vegas, and getting ripped off along the way

Back from my quick trip to Vegas. It was my first time. Did what I wanted to do there. Now I think I'm good. I didn't realize that the trip was going to come with a rite of passage: getting ripped off. Basically, I think that much of that town has been set up to market to the lowest common denominator, so even the best of us fall for it.

Exhibit one: our cab driver from the airport asked us if we should take the freeway or surface streets. Come to find out he was trying to figure out if we knew the area so he could rip us off. A $12 cab ride ended up costing us $31. I'll know better next time.

Exhibit two: I'm not a big Starbucks drinker but I need my coffee and it was a caffeine emergency. A grande latte, inside a casino...$1.50 more. Because it tastes so much better when you are inhaling second hand smoke and viewing people that just stuffed the last of their savings into a "Wheel of Fortune" slot machine.

Exhibit three: Willing to pay $2 for a diet coke and the vending machine ate my money. When I called reception, they told me that I would have to come down and fill out a form to get my money back. But no mention of fixing the vending machine. Interesting.

Exhibit four: the hotels get you lost of purpose so you spend more time in their casino. And some of us are directionally challenged to begin with. My friend Denise kept saying "why don't we just ask for directions?". Denise is married, so she can do that.

Well, it was an interesting trip and I'm glad I did it. I got to do the things that I really wanted to do. We saw Ka', the new Cirque de Soliel show and it was fantastic. And both nights we ate at excellent restaurants: Nob Hill at the MGM Grand and  Bartolotta at the Wynn (and I'm still full). And I think my presentation went well...we'll see when I get the feedback I guess.

Taxi ride: $31, Over-priced, watery cocktail at the Wynn bar: $12, having a cab driver tell you that you look like a hooker: priceless.

Comments (20)

  1. Ken Levy says:

    I’ve bene to Las Vegas over 20 times, and I go again next month to keynote a developer conference. Las Vegas is also known as Lost Wages, Nevada. I just did a search on Lost Wages Nevada and found a complimentary entry this one by a guy named Steve Hofstetter who has a show on satellite radio. See http://www.stevehofstetter.com/column.cfm?ID=80. I was surprised to find there is even a web site called http://www.lostwagestours.com/.

  2. Nicole Simon says:


    but I imagine, Las Vegas does have some very intelligent, very bright, very expensive hookers. 😉

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Gee, thanks Nicole…I feel better already. ; )

    The cab driver was trying to tell us that the hookers dress like us…you know, normal. But that certainly wasn’t how it sounded. Well, I guess as long as none of them have blogs, I’m in good shape.

  4. I’m going to Vegas for the first time in the near not-so-distant future… so, what do you take? The freeway? or the surface streets?

  5. christien says:

    sorry that happened to you in Vegas. whenever i fly to a major city such as vegas or nyc, i always ask what the flat rate is. that way they won’t run the meter and everything is established upfront. hope it helps for next time. glad to hear you enjoyed the trip.

  6. Ted says:

    So what’s better for the cab, surface streets or the freeway?

  7. D-Wang says:

    LOL… I guess what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

  8. Scott Allen says:

    It’s the only place I’ve ever been where a clerk at the sundries shop will hold a $10 bill up to the light to see if it is counterfeit. Sort of makes you wonder just who you can trust when in town….

  9. No name says:

    In Vegas, there are these shuttle buses that run from the airport to the hotels on the Strip (and I think also to downtown). To get to the "Strip" hotels the flat rate was $8 – that includes being driven to the hotel, and getting picked up from the hotel on the way out. One way is $4.50 I think.

    So unless there is a good reason not to take the shuttle bus, that’s the best option


    Love the Apprentice recaps!

  10. Chris Haaker says:

    Heather – What is the answer to the cab ride question? I dont want to get ripped off too! 🙂

  11. Tod says:

    "having a cab driver tell you that you look like a hooker: priceless."

    There has to be a story behind this. Give it up!

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Answer to the vcab question is surface streets. The airport is basically at the end of the strip. No need whatsoever to get on the freeway. But if you don’t answer surface streets, they know you are an out-of-towner and don’t know better.

    Tod-we had just asked the cab driver where the "working girls" were because we had been there for 2 days and hadn’t sen any. He was explaining to us that you wouldn’t notice them because they look just like us. Evidently, they shop at The Gap and Nordstrom too. ; ) But you should have seen thelook on my friend Denise’s face, like :did he just tell us we look like hookers?". It was awesome!

  13. Andrew says:

    I had a similar experience with Las Vegas the time I went. On average everything was 50% more expensive than it should have been. The whole place just had this slightly desperate feel to it, despite the rather thick veneer of glitz. I’m glad I’ve seen it but I can think of a lot of other places I’d rather eat, drink and be merry in.

  14. decheung says:

    ‘our cab driver from the airport asked us if we should take the freeway or surface streets. Come to find out he was trying to figure out if we knew the area so he could rip us off. A $12 cab ride ended up costing us $31. I’ll know better next time.

    So what’s the right answer? 🙂

  15. tvman says:

    Heather, you sounded like you had a good time in Las Vegas. I’m currently a ten year resident in las vegas and just came across this blog, maybe I can help you or your co-workers out the next time you arrive.

    First, the cab ride. You tell the cab driver to take swenson and then go west on tropicana. That will take you to casinos such as MGM, and New York New York. If you are staying at the bellagio, take swenson to paradise then go west on flamingo. But if you want to avoid all of that, the previous poster suggesting the shuttle is probably the best bet for a flat fee.

    As far as hookers, you have all types. In the bad part of town, they actually walk the street. In a casino, you’ll notice a woman at the bar, maybe playing a hand or two of poker, then taking a drink and looking around to make "eye contact" with a prospect. Even though prostitution is illegal in Clark County, bartenders will let them sit at their bar if they are taken care of. These ladies dress very nice, sometimes provacative.

    As for exhibit three, have you ever seen a clock in a casino? No, because of course they want you to stay and gamble. The only remote place you may find one is at a sportsbook.

    I do like this city and what it has to offer everyone. But I don’t like cab drivers and others who pray on the less fortunate. Unfortunately, I see that more often than I would like to.

    If you have any questions on Las Vegas in the future, I would be happy to assist. I can be reached at corey_donahue@hotmail.com, or cdonahue@klastv.com…….

  16. Rob says:

    Exibit #1 – Get Real. Tell me which cab driver in ANY city isn’t going to rip you off if he gets the chance…your acting pretty naive. Next time just say "Do you want a tip? Then dummy up and drive."

    Exibit #2 – Grand Latte. Did you have to get in your car/cab to get one? Did you have to make it yourself? Uh yeah. Did you leave a tip? Hmmmmm.

    Exibit #4 – Your kidding right, or is it all just one big conspiracy?

    As far as watered down drinks, there are good and bad bartenders everywhere. Every drink you’ve ever ordered has been perfect wherever you normally go? – Did you think to give it back to him and have him remake it? Puh leez.

    I know a lot of good bartenders in this town and they can make a helluva drink.

    Look, you sound intelligent, why are you making these blanket statements like you live in your own private Idaho or something?

    And that…is the way it is.

  17. Rob says:

    I forgot to tell you. You see, we all have these monthly meetings where we brainstorm (like one of those big think tanks) how to capitalize on the tourists. – The $2.00 diet coke was my idea! Great one huh?! Oh yeah, and that cabbie was my cousin. He remembers you.

    Don’t feel bad…it wouldn’t have mattered surface streets…freeway. It’s all 31 bucks.

    Thanks for visiting…come back soon!

  18. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wow, Rob, try a sense of humor. They are nice and provide for hours of fun at parties.

    Not sure how I have gotten along all this time without you telling me these things. Boy I am sure relieved that you filled me in.


  19. Karen says:

    Actually, the cab driver was most likely trying to comply with the law regarding "long hauling" a passenger.  Depending on where you are going, what time of day it is, and what is going on in town, it might make more sense to take the freeway vs. the surface streets.  It sounds like he was giving you the choice of a quicker but perhaps more expensive ride via the freeway and a cheaper but longer ride via surface streets.  This is often the case with the "tunnel" also.  If you don’t know the answer, just tell him/her that you either want to go the quickest way or the cheapest way.  He/she should be able to estimate the fares for both then you can make an informed choice and not feel like you got ripped off.    

  20. HeatherLeigh says:

    There’s a tunnel in Las Vegas? Hmm. Who knew. It wasn’t a "long haul", it was about a 4 mile ride from the airport to the hotel. If he was cocnerned about surface traffic, he should have made a recommendation. He didn’t do that. He picked the longest route. I know this because the cab I took back to the airport was a significan;ty shorter ride and cheaper. Sorry, it was a rip-off.

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