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Happy Belated Birthday Michael Jordan, We Got You This Post

By middleclassbuzz on Wednesday, 20th February 2013 11:46am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 12


Back in the spring of 2005, I had the pleasure of working a brief stint in the Total Rewards department at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino®. I say pleasure because it truly was; great job, great benefits and great coworkers. For reasons unrelated to the job or the company, my time there was too short.

Anyway, all new hires had to go through the same core week of customer service training which took place in a classroom deep in the bowels of Rio's back of house. Since Harrah's Entertainment (at that time, anyway) stressed their focus on customer service, most of the curriculum involved how to talk to customers, how to help them, make sure they were having a good time and "feeling lucky". We also spent an adequate amount of time on identifying problem gamblers too, in case you were curious. They took that topic seriously.

Then something interesting happened. I believe we were discussing the elite "Seven Star" membership tier in the Total Rewards program when a laminated sheet of paper got handed out and passed around for us to examine. On it, there were two lists of well-known athletes and celebrities. One list for famous guests who were known to tip well and treat employees with respect, and the other list for the opposite; guests who didn't tip well (or tip at all) and didn't treat employees with appreciation.

At the time it didn't occur to me, but now it seems kind of incredible that a company would distribute this information. I definitely remember thinking that it seemed like a very "Vegas" thing to do; where else is it more important to know the value of taking care of the people who take care of you? We didn't get our own copies of the list. We only had just enough time to glance at it before passing it on, then we got to hear some nice stories about the kind souls on the first list. Drew Carey buys blackjack dealer a house, Ben Affleck tipped a hundred thousand dollars once; you know, that kind of thing.

But when it came to the second list, we were told that we were under no obligation to do anything special for the people on it. And who should top that list but His Airness himself, basketball legend Michael Jordan. While we certainly weren't given the go ahead to treat any guest disrespectfully, it was made clear to us that this list of people were not welcomed at any Harrah's property with open arms and big smiles. Sure they could come spend their money, but if they wanted any special favors, forget it. MJ wants a cheeseburger from McDonald's delivered to the mansion at 3am? Tough shit. He can go get it himself.

The responsibility for how to handle these people was given over to us- if we didn't want to go out of our way for these people, we didn't have to. We owed them nothing, and since they were known to not tip or take care of staff appropriately, we weren't going to be forced to waste our time. You know, old school Vegas. They don't want to take care of the people taking care of them? Fuck 'em then.

I wish I could remember more of the names, but Michael Jordan is the only one that stuck. At the time, he was trying to get his own casino built in town and rumor had it this was because he wasn't welcomed anywhere else on The Strip. I know it sounds like Harrah's was inviting trouble by including this in our training, but to me, it sent a clear message. It made us feel like we were valued and no guest, no matter how much money they spent, were going to treat us with disrespect. And if they did, their names went on a list, and it was publicized (at least internally).

So happy fiftieth birthday, Mr. Jordan. I know millions of people the world over love you, but this is the only thing that I can think about when your name comes up. You treat people badly, especially service staff that can't defend themselves, and word gets out.

When I grow up, I don't want to be anything like Mike. You don't really want to, either.

Tagged: truthyness   michael jordan   rio   caesars   harrahs   total rewards   


Comments & Discussion:

Great article...I can corroborate a similar story. When I was younger, I caddied at a nice country club in the Chicago area. One time MJ came to the club to play a round with a member. He was given one of, if not the best, caddy we had - both in terms of quality of caddy and also personality. After the round MJ basically took off. Now mind you that members have guests that will "slide," as it's called, the caddy a little extra dough, since the member is paying for the caddy. Ordinary Joes would slide $20 to $50 to even $100 routinely. MJ...nothing. I heard he didn't even tip the valet guys who work on tips.
Then, a friend of mine who caddied at one of the nicest clubs in all of Chicago, said the same exact thing happened when His Airness visited his club too.
One thing is for sure...MJ is one cheap dude.

Fascinating glimpse into the business. I'm really surprised a corporation would share the list with you even though you couldn't keep a printed copy. Doesn't Tiger Woods belong on the second list?

There are plenty of stories out there about TW's cheapness as well. It's no wonder that Jordan took him under his gambling wing early on at the Mansion.

Living in Chicago I heard similar stories about his Airness from people that did work for him. Apparently celebrities don't realize that all us little folk all talk to each other and word gets around quickly.

Scottie Pippen was another. He didn't earn the moniker No-Tippen Pippen for nothing, and all the servers and bartenders around town I talked to knew it.

I heard he's cheap but he gambles like a mad man, I'm talking playing blackjack and hitting 20's.

I read somewhere that Bruce Willis also belongs on the second list and that getting "Bruced" is slang for getting stiffed.

heard the same thing about bruce willis.. but had a driver in turks and cacicos who told us he was a great tipper.. maybe he's only cheap when gambling? i heard jordan even stiffed the waitstaff on a comped meal at his own steakhouse here in CT

heard barkley is a good guy as are kevin youkilis and some of the local hockey players.

Interesting on Bruce Willis. What's ironic is that I have friends that have said Demi Moore was one of the most generous tippers they've encountered.

I heard MJ's son is the exact opposite. Before he was 21 anyway.

"Space Jam" sucked, too.

Since I live in Chicago I can vouch for Mike being tight even though he had the cash on him.

The general impression I get of the hockey guys is that you'd have to hunt and peck a lot to find a real tightwad asshole, thoguh I'm sure there are a few.

Sorry to hear His Holy Airness is a jackass to the staff. Glad I;ve never eaten at any place with his name on it.

Love the article, but now I know why occassionally a waitress or security guard will strike up a conversation with me, when I'm in one of those long VP sessions, it's the attempt to identify the problem gambler training!!!

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