Nobody knows yet whether it was planted by an attendee, or if the ATM had been there for some period of time before the event, but hackers at last week’s DefCon conference in Las Vegas discovered a rogue unit that was designed to capture customers’ credit card data with each use.
In our post earlier today about the 65-year-old doctor who tried to use the bathroom on a recent Southwest flight and was subsequently arrested, we noted that the airline sent him an apology letter and a $100 voucher. That seemed kind of inappropriate for the situation, right? It turns out the letter was never meant for Dr. Madduri and was sent to him by mistake. According to our reader RedwoodFlyer (Sockatume also picked up on it), the letter was actually about him and was sent to all the other passengers on the flight; he was never meant to see it.
A 65-year-old urologist, born in India but living in the United States for 38 years now, was flying from his home in Missouri to a medical convention in Las Vegas on June 26th, 2008. Did you notice that “born in India” detail? Apparently his attempts to go to the bathroom angered and frightened a flight attendant, who wouldn’t tell Dr. Sivaprasad Madduri why he couldn’t use the lavatory (the pilot was using it) and who wouldn’t listen to Dr. Madduri’s explanation that he was taking a medicine that acts as a diuretic. When the plane landed he was arrested, spent the night in jail, and was told the next day to plead guilty and pay $2500 if he wanted a quick resolution.
Back in June we mentioned how TicketsMyWay has a reputation for not actually providing tickets—”MyWay” apparently refers to the company and not the customer, and it translates into “no tickets or refunds for you.” A customer who learned the hard way about TicketsMyWay sent us an alert that the company is operating under a new banner, OnTheGoTickets.com.
A reader wrote in to ask us if we’ve ever seen anything like the “Chargeback Abuse Policy” that Luxury Car Tuning in Las Vegas includes in their terms—”You agree not to file a credit card or debit card chargeback with regard to any purchase,” and if you do anyway, you have to pay any fees that normally the merchant must pay when dealing with a chargeback. The reader wants to know, “Is this allowed by any merchant agreement that you know of? Sounds pretty ridiculous to me. How likely would it be that they could get away with this?”
Last week’s news that the Westin Casuarina hotel in Las Vegas was surreptitiously charging conference attendees for the organizer’s unpaid bill generated enough bad press that the Westin did an about-face this week, and sent out letters on Tuesday telling affected customers it is reversing the extra charges. A Westin spokesman said, “We’ve decided as a matter of customer relations to issue the refunds while continuing to pursue payment from The Coaching Center” in Austin, Texas. The Westin also says the refunds are an “effort to show our good faith,” which we assume means “please don’t sue us.”
The Wall Street Journal says that about half of foreclosed homes nationwide have “substantial” damage ,much of it inflicted by bitter former homeowners who tried their best to destroy the property before being forced to leave.
Upgrade: Travel Better writes that hotels are using motion sensors and scales to charge you if you even move an item from your room’s minibar. Here is what one such device looks like at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas. Say you want to check out the nutritional information on the package. Or look at it. Or you pick one up and change your mind. You could get charged an extra $100 for food you didn’t even eat. The safest bet is to just not touch the hotel minbar. Or even think about it. No doubt they’re working on sensors to detect that and charge you for it as well. [More]
This story has plenty of salaciousness and few details, but here we go: A woman is claiming that U.S. Airways employees helped her off of her flight from Bakersfield to Las Vegas, then left her parked in a wheelchair on the tarmac, causing her to miss her connection to Orlando. Eventually, another employee found the woman, wheeled her into a hallway and left. The woman’s daughter says that the employee told her mother, “this is not my job, but I can park you here.”
At the Las Vegas Venetian, earnings dropped 19 percent to $58.3 million. The casino’s winning percentage in baccarat, blackjack and other games was 14.7 percent, below its forecast range of 20 to 22 percent and last year’s winning percentage of 23.4 percent. Gamblers also won more than forecast at the Sands Macao.
The foreclosure numbers for the first half of 2007 are in and Stockton, California leads the pack with 1 out of every 27 homes foreclosed on in 2007. Second is Detroit, with 1 in 29 and coming in third, Las Vegas with 1 in 31.
I know a lot of your readers believe that local, mom and pop operations are the way to go — that big corporate companies are universally evil and local is almost always filled with nice, smiling workers who are far superior to their sell-out counter-parts. I’m here today to show you that, at least in banking, size doesn’t matter.
Blackjack used to be one of the best bets in Vegas. Easy to understand, with decent odds. The house advantage on a single-deck game of blackjack, under standard rules, was a measly .18%.
Two years ago, the AG sued franchiser Francare Inc. As a result of a settlement, the company agreed to stop deceptive trade practices. Apparently, the suit didn’t make enough of an impression. Perhaps this next one will.
The halcyon days of jumping into your rusty Impala with your teenage bride and driving off to Vegas to get married by Black Elvis at dawn in Vegas are soon to be forever gone.