Monday, July 25, 2011

One Way NOT to Save Money in Las Vegas

After detailing some ways to save money in Las Vegas last week, I thought it would only be fair to list one way in which I wasn't prudent with my money in Vegas during my recent trip.

After seeing a show, my family and I were left in Harrah's Casino. In an effort to save money, I had purchased and printed out a coupon (from for a restaurant in Vegas for dinner, but after I bought the coupon, I called the restaurant for reservations, but the man on the phone told me that they were closing early that night.

Wah-wuh. A restaurant closing early in Las Vegas? Se ridicule!

Anyways, my family decided just to find a restaurant at Harrah's to eat at. Our choices were a buffet (of which we could not stand another), a prohibitively expensive steakhouse, and a burger place.

How expensive can a hamburger be, right? With this in mind, we opted for the burgers (even though they cost, on average, $14 a piece. For that kind of money, that burger had better be good enough to call me in the morning!).

Still, food is overpriced in Vegas, so eating at KGB (Kerry's Gourmet Burgers) was about as expensive as we might have expected. However, the real tipping point occurred when the waitress upsold us on our drink order.

My dad and I each wanted one beer (at $6 a piece: already a ridiculous price). The waitress told us that we could get a bucket of beer (5 beers) for $25, which would result in a $5 savings (versus paying $30 at the regular rate). I was about to say no, when my dad replied that that sounded good. I was surprised, but I went along with it. To make a long story short, after the meal, when the check arrived, my dad was less than pleased (even though he and I split the bill). I think he just heard the part about saving five bucks.

Still, I want to take a minute to think about the markup that restaurants charge on drinks. I can get a six pack of bottled beer at the grocery store for somewhere between $6 and $12, usually. That means that beer costs me between $1 and $2 a piece. I have to believe that restuarant is getting that same beer at a significant discount as they are purchasing in bulk. However, even if they're paying $2 per beer, they're more than doubling or even tripling their money (by selling at the "deal" rate of $5 or the normal rate of $6).

Even if you're not an alcohol drinker, your drink can have an outrageous markup. If you buy soda from a fountain, it likely costs the restaurant a few cents per soda (the cost of fizzy water and the cost of syrup). I think KGB charged $3 per soda, which, if it costs 3 cents per soda to the restaurant, is a markup of a hundred times the cost.

What a racket. I guess the extra money pays for the ambience?

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