April 12, 2010, 4:08 PM — Although I never gamble, my travels to Las Vegas have often left me poorer than I had expected them to.
The reason for this is simple -- Las Vegas is a city that is simply determined to rip you off, even if you never touch a single slot machine or play a single hand of Blackjack. As someone who has travelled to Sin City several times over the past three years for assorted tech conventions, I can attest that Vegas has a unique way of nickel and diming (or more accurately, five-dollar-billing) tourists in ways that would make Ebenezer Scrooge blush.
So when you take the trip to Vegas for Interop this year, here are some things to avoid doing if at all possible. For while they may seem like harmless activities that would not set you back in most normal cities, in Vegas they'll undoubtedly cost you.
1. Don't withdraw money from an ATM.
Whining and moaning about high ATM fees is a proud American tradition -- after all, why should I have to give another bank 10% of a $20 withdrawal? Las Vegas ATMs take these usurious fees to absurd new heights, as they often charge between $5 and $10 per transaction. If you find yourself needing cash in Vegas, be sure to invest in some traveler's checks beforehand.
2.) Don't pay for short cab rides with large bills.
After a quick $8 cab ride to the airport one time, I handed the driver a $20 bill. Knowing that I was already in a rush to make my flight and would not have time to argue, he handed me back $2 in change and kept the remaining $10 as his own personal "tip."
This is not to say that every Vegas cabbie is an unscrupulous scumbag per se, but it's often risky to take anything for granted in that city. Carry small bills with you or find a cab that takes credit cards if you want to avoid this particularly irritating scam.
3.) Don't have your company send a FedEx package to your hotel.