Hello shoppers...


...and welcome to the ear which is bent, from the voices which are many, about the review which was Thursday, about the place that seemed like someone ran over its dog: Prairie Meadows.

A few points about the reactions from readers you're about to read:

1. It's not easy to be called out publicly for our performance at work.

2. It's not as hard but still not easy to be the one doing the calling outing.

3. Employees and managers (former and current) of Prairie Meadows and their friends have every right to voice their feelings.

4. The Unsecret Shopper is a vehicle through which their voices can be heard.

5. The Unsecret Shopper is a vehicle through which consumers' voices can be heard.

6. Consumers have the loudest voice of all.

Much of what I saw and heard at Prairie Meadows were examples of employees allowing themselves to be ruled by their “I,” in positions which require their "R."

This is one of the most important training elements of The Buyosphere.

Our “I” is the most selfish part of who we are as human beings. It is “me, me, me.” It is the child inside us, surrounded by these adult suits we wear. 

We shop (and gamble) in our I.

Our “R” is our most selfless part. It’s who we are to everyone else but ourself. It’s our title – as “mother,” “husband,” “manager,” “employee,” “friend.”

We serve, as employees, in our R.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

However, when people are unhappy in their workplace because of low wages, long hours, lack of accountability, overworked staffs, undertrained management, lack of staff unity, economic uncertainty and a hundred other reasons, it can become very hard to keep our unhappy I out of our happy R. Good people, happy people, hard-working people often struggle to keep their smiling heads above the rising waters of negativity.

That's completely understandable.

It's also understandable that customers don't care. Why? They're in their I. Their focus is on their own joy, of feeling like they're being taken care of by happy people, not making excuses for them because they're not.

The most important thing to remember, if you’re an employee of Prairie Meadows or know an employee who is who was featured in their Secret Shopper review, is that the review is not personal. How can it be? I don’t know these employees personally. I don’t know their “I.” All I am looking for is their “R,” their role as employees entrusted to smile at and greet and engage and thank customers. It ain't personal, Sonny; it's strictly business.

That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

When the pain dies down a bit, what is left is a unique insight into our role - who we are to everyone else but ourselves. 

Here is some insight from others into my role as a Secret Shopper...

 "Your review of Prairie Meadows is off-base. I'm a regular there and I'm always greeted by friendly, smiling employees. Are you sure you weren't at Terribles?"



"Prairie Meadows is embarrassing. My husband and I used to go out there when it first opened, but we stopped a few years ago because the customer service got so bad. How could they let that beautiful facility go down the drain like that? If you ask me, the management should be fired and some people should be brought in who truly understand what it means to take care of the customers. Thanks for showing what has become of a once great place."



"I wanted to clarify our encounter as I remembered it! If you will! Thank you! When I approached you were deep in thought about something that appeared to be bothering you! So I approached you with a smile saying Hi! I owe you two cents ,which your slot machine had been locked up into a handpay,you responded confused with what was going on,so I explained to you an we got that taken care of it not being your money an I answered all your questions on where found money goes when left behind @ a game,so on an so forth. You gave me the impression you wanted to get back to your thoughts,which I interupted when I engaged you,by saying thanks an looking away as if you were done with me,so I said yep an if you need anything let me know an you said you would an I left. Had you kept eye contact with me my parting remark would have been your welcome an Goodluck as always!"



"Not that I’m arguing with you, but if you worked at a place that sucked out your will to live, you’d have a hard time smiling too."



"Who do you think you are? Who appointed you the overseer of all of us "angry, unsmiling, unhappy" employees? I LOVE my job at Prairie Meadows, and share my joy with customers every day! Your review was a lie and you're whole thing is a joke. Some expert! Get a life, you jerk!"



"Like I’m going to tell you my real name. : ) Not happening. I found your prose a little difficult to get through with all of the snide comments that were being thrown out like stinking dish clothes. To say that “a” manager is not at fault, the staff are just doing it wrong is unfair. You have no idea what those people go through every day working in the forced environment that they do. These are good people who are more often than not; treated poorly. You don’t get food thrown at you, you don’t get told where to shove your wallet I’m sure, you do not have to put up with the sarcasm that the staff do at PM on a daily basis. For you to sit and preach about what YOU think is good guest service,get a reality check, this is Iowa, we don’t need people flaking out on us wanting us to sign up for something we may not care to sign up for. People who over do it with fake smiles is cheap. And it cheapens the experience. I would rather have someone go about their business than have to worry about how I may or may not be offended by their smile. Go back out to PM like a real human being, go there often, then and only then will you begin to understand what the staff at PM goes through. Watch closely, it’s easy to find.

In the meantime, I hope this isn’t your only job.

By the way, that lady Carolyn that you mentioned, she waits on me at least 3 times a week, she is a wonderful woman. She is sincere. I don’t need to be treated like something I’m not. Just treated like a human being, and she does a marvelous job of that. You want all the glitter and glam, go to Vegas. I like PM even though I have a VERY good idea of what goes on."



"Awesome review of Prairie Meadows, Jonnie! You hit the nail right on the head, as always. They've let that place slide, to the point where I'll drive the few extra miles to Lakeside Casino, or even up to Emmetsburg on occasion. I refuse to waste one more dollar at a place that treats me with such disrespect as a customer. Keep up the great work!"



"Let’s see now. You go into a place, find a whole bunch of “problems” then offer (out of the goodness of your heart) to provide a “solution” to the “problems” you have “discovered” (for a price of course).

That about cover it?

Your costs?

A) A nasty heart

B) A kitchen table

C) An internet connection

D) Significant chutzpa

If you can get anyone to pay you for your “services” congratulations! Wish I would have thought of it. What a great con!"



"'Prairie Meadows - your favorite place to die.' I LOVE IT!"



"What you wear has absolutely no bearing on how much money you make, and to stereotype that is just ignorant. Perhaps you should have tried actually playing there before you rip their customer service. Ripping the cashier lady for not knowing how to play blackjack is like ripping a cashier at Wal-Mart because she cannot tell you the specifics of what their automotive department does. I’ve worked customer service a long time, and we are very observant people. Perhaps if you were participating in the experience rather than skulking around like a creep, more people would have been receptive. And stop complaining about “How can I help you?”, it means the same thing.

You sound like a desperate old man that looks to insult first, and get facts second. I would be ashamed to be you. I have read some of your blogs and it’s all the same story."



"Yikes Jonnie...you get more hate mail than I do!"

-Michael Libbie


"Thanks for the info. I go to Prairie Meadows after work and I assumed I was treated that way because I had on my work cloths and looked grubby… Maybe not!"



"The staff seemed to care a lot more when they first brought in table games. The dealers would smile at you and laugh and would encourage you and keep up your spirits  when you were losing (which I did a lot of.) Now it's like they're all unhappy robots, programmed to deal the cards, take your chips and nothing else. Kind of takes the fun out of Iowa's Favorite Place to Play..."



"Your style makes it hard to read your “review.” I think you’re just trying to be funny, but I gave up at the photo of the plastic horse instead of trying to slog though the rest of this."



"Too bad something that takes peoples money...it made sense before I started typing."



"We taxpayers bailed out Prairie Meadows when it was going under. And what do we get in return? A poorly managed casino run by a bunch of miserable apathetic employees. Thanks for shedding light on this embarrassment to Iowans."



"I don't gamble because of the staff. I gamble to win money. Who cares if the dealer doesn't smile at me? I'll trade the smile for a queen and an ace."



"I bet on a horse at ten-to-one.  It didn't come in until half-past five."

-Henny Youngman


Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.       


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Phone: 515-480-4190

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