Saturday, July 12, 2008

MGMGrand.Com Not Hacked, But...

OK. For what it's worth, I got the scoop on the $69-a-night rates at the MGM Grand that "several hundred" people tried to enjoy. See here for the background. I'm not sure how satisfied y'all will be about it, but here's the deal, per Alan Feldman, senior VP for MGM Mirage.

First off and perhaps most importantly, the site was not hacked or breached. "That's either a very, very poor choice of words on a reservationist's part or someone just did not understand what happened. This had nothing to do with hacking," Feldman said. So rest assured if you were worried about identity theft or some other compromising Internet situation related to your personal data.

Then what actually did happen? According to Feldman, the MGM Mirage created the $69-a-night MGM Grand rate code for a mailer that was either about to or just went out to selected members of the company's slot club. It was "a closed-loop kind of thing," intended for a relatively specific, small group of people.

"Just prior to the mailer's arrival, someone figured out the code -- there are code phishers out there -- and we don't really know how, but someone got ahold of the code," Feldman said.

It was then circulated online. Feldman said it's difficult to figure out where it was posted first or by whom, but he said some postings indicated that whoever was passing around the information at first knew that it was intended for slot club players because those postings instructed people to go to the casino cage and sign up for a slot club card before checking in. That is, it offered a work-around.

The MGMGrand.Com folks realized the problem because the mailer hadn't actually landed yet and many who were booking under the special rate were not on the list of those who were supposed to get the mailer. The reservations have been canceled, emails are going out and some phone calls are being made. You may need to call to address it if you've been canceled.

"We discovered very quickly that people who had no connection to this code were using it," Feldman said. "The names and reservations were not matching up with who we sent it to."

Feldman said reservationists have been in contact with dozens of the hundreds who tried to use the code and that almost all have rebooked under a different rate, usually a promotional one that is just higher than $69. He said one cheap rate available to the general public is $89 a night when available and many took that.

"We'll work with every guest on a one-on-one basis," Feldman said. "Of those we've gotten to in the first 24 hours, only a few went elsewhere, I'd say in the single digits. One person was upset enough to say 'I'm going to call a lawyer.' Everyone else understood that the code they used was one that they did not have the authority to use."

I did ask Feldman why the company did not feel obliged to honor the rate for those who booked and he said that it was a special offer for a select group of people and not an error in a general mailer or something for all comers.

Any thoughts?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

That Feldman guy sounds like an arse. People who went elsewhere are in the single digits? I hope EVERYONE who got cancelled goes elsewhere. This deal had some people flying to LV who were going to otherwise stay home. That's just poor business ethics on MGM grand's part and I will certainly think twice before booking in their outdated hotel.

Don said...

Well, it does sound like a logical reason for canceling the rates.

I certainly don't agree with anonymous. The code was for use by only certain people, the code was "stolen" and unauthorized persons tried to use the code. I see no reason why MGM should honor the rate.

And, if people have chosen to fly to LV on the basis of a $69 a night rate vs. $89 or even $99 or even $129 a night, then I think they may want to think twice about making Las Vegas their vacation destination.

Troy from Las Vegas said...

Uh, I am no computer geek but isn't phishing a form of hacking?
Let's see, according to webopedia.com-
"(fish´ing) The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information. "

So perhaps phishing is not really exactly a form of hacking but it sounds like Alan Feldman is just talking about things and using terms he doesn't understand either.

THE STRIP PODCAST GUYS said...

Troy: Yeah, phishing may not have been the precise term. I think what he meant was that people spend their time trying out rate codes hoping something will work. I take it that happens regularly. This wasn't, it doesn't seem, the case here if the origin was a mailer and the originating propagator of the lower rate was aware of the slot-club condition. I doubt we'll ever know for sure exactly how the code for out into the ether in the first place.

Don said...

Well, I'm not sure how the code got out, either. But, it appears this is where it first was posted:

http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?t=866500

Walter said...

Well, no one has contacted me yet but it looks like I'll be SOL. I think it is a bad business decision to not honor the reservations for which people received confirmations. They could have easily restricted it to those certain customers by having the customers input their solt club number in order to secure the reservation. I'll think twice before booking with MGM again.

Anonymous said...

The $89 deal Feldman referenced is not good on weekends whereas the $69 deal was good on weekends. The price on mgmgrand.com is over $200 for the same room on the weekend.

Anonymous said...

The people who used this code knew very well they weren't authorized to do so. They were plainly being dishonest. And they were taking advantage of a business, which has little practical difference from taking advantage of human beings.

It's certainly no surprise that someone who would comfortably take advantage of someone else would be the same sort of person who would whine about getting called out for that self-centered behavior. So who really cares what this select few think.

Let the narcisists snivel. It's no stretch in realizing they more than likely do an excess of that, anyway.

Kudos to MGM for taking a righteous stand! Looks like I'll be staying there more often.

THE STRIP PODCAST GUYS said...

Anon: I tend to take the middle ground here myself. There are coupon codes of all sorts floating around online and everyone, including MGM, knows that. Most people who used the code probably had no idea whether it was an offer for them or not but figured if they didn't qualify they wouldn't be allowed to book it. The woman whose letter I posted in the next post clearly made an effort to see if she was eligible and then booked it when they said she was. Was she being sneaky or tricky in your view?

Whenever I go to New York City, I always go to BroadwayBox.Com. All that site is is a collection of coupon codes for show ticket offers that is organized conveniently. People get coupons in the mail or see them in magazines or whatever and send them to the site, where the owner makes them available. Are those people doing something wrong? If so, you'd think the NY theaters would be working to shut them down. But I think by and large it's assumed that if there's a discount code to be used on a Web site, it's going to be circulated online and will be used.

So I see both sides easily here and don't know that anyone is deliberately wrong. But it is awkward and frustrating and possibly expensive for many people.

Don said...

Steve: I see one important difference between the Broadway codes and a Casino code.
The Casino code was developed to be offered to a certain group of players whom the casino felt were going to play at a certain level or perhaps dine and shop at a certain level. Hence, the casino would in the end, increase its revenue despite the discounted room rates.
The Broadway code basically allows for the sale of a seat at a discounted price, where there is a strong possibility that the seat would go empty and produce zero revenue.

Anonymous said...

Both sides of the story can be understood.....but I have to side with the people who booked this deal. I could understand if this rate was like $10/night but this (to the average person) seems like a quality reasonable deal. We are talking about a multi-million dollar company, not a small little local hotel. MGM has specific technology employees to program their revservations and websites. Most other strip hotels make you log into your players account to book certain rooms at certain prices. Even a small website can turn on an on-line coupon code on a certain date to certain accounts. As many people have done, I was also able to contact "unnamed" VIP staff and get an $89 rate for the entire labor day weekend but am still puzzled. What does the MGM gain by charging me (and others) $100 more? Wouldn't it make more sense to please everyone and give them the $69 rate. Instead they are spending all this time with emails and hundreds of phone calls to charge people $20-$30 more a night, losing customers, making people upset and getting people to post horrible reviews?

Walter said...

Anonymous "The people who used this code knew very well they weren't authorized to do so. They were plainly being dishonest. And they were taking advantage of a business, which has little practical difference from taking advantage of human beings. "

How the hell can you say that when people called MGM and asked if it was ok to book a room using this code and they said yes?!

Phil said...

It is rediculous to say that to use SDM060 is not ok, but then to book SDM057 which is the same, without the $69 weekend nights is!

If they really wanted to secure these promotion codes they could; to say they have no idea how people get hold of them is also silly. They reuse the same codes and keep them in the same format, if you are persistent enough you can find them all with trial and error.

Anonymous said...

Feldman lied. Single digits only canceled??? Yeah right! On the website I go on, i know at least 11 people that canceled.

Anonymous said...

Walter- I also called in to verify that it was okay to use the code. How dare you generalize and call us all dishonest! Two individuals checked with their mangers and said it was okay for me to use it. There was nothing dishonest about the way I went about it. Get your head on straight buddy.

Anonymous said...

I, as well, asked the reservationists if it was okay to use that code and was told if I get a confirmation to call back and check with them to see if it booked. I did, and it was confirmed and the reservationist said that they could not cancel me, but they did...PS. I am the one who said I would consult an attorney...

Walter said...

Anonymous said..... "Walter- I also called in to verify that it was okay to use the code. How dare you generalize and call us all dishonest! Two individuals checked with their mangers and said it was okay for me to use it. There was nothing dishonest about the way I went about it. Get your head on straight buddy."

Easy there - I'm on your side. I was quoting what another person posted hence the "". Please read before lashing out.
Walter

Anonymous said...

Sorry Walter!!! I am on edge here, my friends and family are about to chop my head off because they booked expensive air fare just for this bogus promo.
I just heard of a friend who is in vegas now...he just called another mutual friend, who has said that when they got to the hotel, MGM said too bad they are not getting a room and basically asked them to stop arguing and just leave.
-AA

Walter said...

No problem AA. I'm in the same boat as you actually. I have a reservation as well with the infamous code. It shounds like Suzanne was able to get a reasonable concession (see latest update). I'm going to try sending a letter.
-Walter

Hong Kong hotels said...

It's right the people who used this code knew very well they weren't authorized to do so, they were simple stolen code from different site like this and they were taking advantage of their business easily.