I recently received a promotion letter from the Paris/Bally casino in Las Vegas offering me $3,000 in cash or live chips for Jan. 2-5. I called the same day (Oct. 16) to make the reservations and was told no rooms were available. Two of my relatives also received the same letter but couldn't reserve rooms either. I asked for a rain check and was told none was available. Shouldn't they honor this?
The promotion letter began, "Looking for the ultimate Vegas getaway? You can always bet on Paris and Bally's!"
Except when you can't.
Here's what happened: The folks at Paris and Bally's sent a letter promising $3,000 in CASH or LIVE CHIPS (their caps). Even if you're not much of a gambler, you might be tempted to make the trip to Vegas for three grand.
Unfortunately, that was a typo, the director of special events and promotions explained in a subsequent letter to the traveler. What the casinos really meant to offer was $300.
After receiving a letter of complaint, the hotel sent out a second letter saying, "Immediately upon discovering the error, we properly withdrew the offer and, to ensure that our reservations system would no longer accept reservations pursuant to the erroneous offer, we designated the offer as 'sold out' on our reservations system."
That's not quite the same story our traveler said she got when she called.
She said the reservations agent told her that the offer was sold out. When she asked how that could be - she had received the letter the very day she called - she said she was told that Nevada residents had received their letters first and had gobbled up all the rooms.
So you can't really blame Nevadans for hogging the hotel, but can you blame Paris/Bally's for something more than bad typing?
Yes and no, said Alexander Anolik, a San Francisco Bay Area travel attorney and author of Traveler's Rights.
If you're the type of player who could expect to receive such treatment, you should expect to be accommodated, he said. "If she's a financial whale, then, yes, that's reasonable," Anolik said. "But if she's a minnow, no."
In a later conversation, our traveler said she was more minnow than whale.
Alas, we'll have to chalk this up as the one that got away.