False economies

In today's edition of "You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?" …

As counterintuitive as it seems, one of the first things to take it in the neck during the present recession is customer service; cleanliness is the other. (Jean Scott has some thoughts on this today). Two examples should suffice.

Can't-See-the-Sunset-for-the-Cigarette-Smoke Station

Last Tuesday, the Significant Other and I decided to take advantage of a bingo promotion at Sunset Station. Now, if you're running a promotion for which you've barraged the area with coupons, you'd be prepared for a big turnout, right? Not Station Casinos. There were but two people manning the booth and the parade of would-be customers stretched well across the room even after the session had started. We left.

On Friday, I went for lunch to the neighborhood Quiznos. One person was manning the entire counter as the conga line backed up. Even after seeing a man about a horse, I found that the queue had not budged appreciably. I took my business — and my $10 — next door. We ran into a similar phenomenon yesterday at Best Buy, so fewer employees/longer lines looks like the trend du jour.

In the first two cases, we have businesses that saw money walk off the premises because of mingy, corner-cutting thrift moves. At Sunset Station, the down-at-heels impression was amplified by a casino floor that reeked of cigarette smoke to a degree that might make Arizona Charlie's blush. At least the latter is a grind joint that knows it's a grind joint. Ten years ago, Sunset Station was the flagship of the Station fleet. Now it's just another Boulder Strip casino. Even the older Boulder Station is holding up better.

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