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Mailhouse Error Costs Empress Joliet $4 Million8 September 1999
Were you as surprised as I was when your November 1998 promotional letter from the Empress Casino Joliet arrived in the mail? Instead of the two $5 cash vouchers that my wife usually receives, I was amazed to discover she was sent three $25 vouchers and one $50 voucher, for a total of $125!
My first reaction was that either my wife had dramatically increased her play (unlikely) or the folks at the Empress decided to be overly generous (highly unlikely). I was soon to discover that it was a mistake...a mighty costly mistake made by the Empress Casino's outside mailing house.
The $125 voucher package was supposed to be mailed ONLY to 1,000 Empress Casino patrons who are considered "high rollers", making it a $125,000 mailing. A mailhouse computer error instead sent the high roller voucher package to 33,000 patrons, making it a $4,125,000 mailing!
The powers that be at the Empress Casino Joliet opted to avoid what would have been a giant public relations debacle by "eating" the $4 million mistake and honoring all of the vouchers that were brought in. The result has been lines of happy patrons gleefully reaping the rewards that are usually reserved for the "Harold Heavybucks" of the casino.
"We've had a lot of employees put in overtime and we've set up special Empress Club stations to accommodate the crowds," Mary Phalen, public relations manager for Empress Casino Joliet, acknowledged. "As you can imagine, we've been a lot busier this month. We're also looking for a new mailhouse!"
The vouchers were redeemable at any time during the month at the rate of one per day. Only after you redeemed your three $25 vouchers were you eligible to cash in your $50 voucher. Therefore, it was possible to visit the Empress Casino Joliet four days during November and have $125 cash in your pocket.
The fact of the matter is that a majority of the folks who came to redeem their vouchers also stopped by the casino to try their luck. It's my guess that the increased business will be reflected on Empress Joliet's bottom line for November, and that the big mistake will not be as costly as $4 million.
Empress Joliet Casino nevertheless deserves credit for making good on the early Christmas presents that were mailed out and for handling the crowds so efficiently. In the meantime, look for your cash bonuses to be back to normal for the month of December. It sure was fun while it lasted!
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Follow-up: Remember the November mailhouse error at the Empress Casino Joliet? A $125 voucher package that was supposed to be sent to only 1,000 patrons who are regarded as "high rollers" mistakenly was sent to 33,000 patrons, resulting in a $4 million mailing instead of one worth $125,000.
Officials at Empress Joliet decided to bite the bullet and honor all of the vouchers that were brought to the casino to be redeemed. November figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board reveal that in addition to being a pretty slick public relations maneuver, the decision reflected very favorably on the operation's bottom line!
Monetary and admission figures at the Empress Casino Joliet for November were among the highest since it took a big hit as a result of the opening of riverboat gaming in northwest Indiana in 1996.
The adjusted gross receipts of $15.8 million were up almost 16% over October ($13.6 million) and almost 50% over November of 1997 ($10.5 million) Admissions of 374,957 were up 21% over October (308,684) and nearly 50% over November of 1997 (250,485).
Apparently, many of us who visited Empress Casino Joliet during November to redeem our vouchers also paid a visit to the casino. So, don't think that they lost a ton of money as a result of their generosity. When you take into account the money they took in on food and other concessions, they may have come out ahead!
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp