I bet you didn’t know Priceline had a jail.
I didn’t either until I got tossed into their web-based hoosegow for 24 hours. Heh.
What was my “crime” you ask?
This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I recently made an offer on a rental car for our upcoming family vacation to the East Coast that was apparently a bit too low for Priceline and their affiliates’ liking.
I still don’t understand what I did that warranted such treatment. I had been diligently pricing minivans on other websites and found them to be running for approximately $100 per day.
So taking Priceline at its word (“Name your own price and save up to 40%!”) I decided to offer $60 per day. That is 40% off, right?
Anyway, when I clicked the button to seal my bid, I got a suggestion from Priceline telling me that I might want to consider a higher price. In fact, they even noted that $71 would give me a “good chance” of making a deal, and $77 would give me an even “better chance” of getting the minivan of my dreams – although they couldn’t exactly tell me what the make and model would be until after the deal was sealed.
Anyway, I said phooey to their lame suggestions. After all, Priceline said I could save up to 40% off and a bid of $71 comes to, well, let’s see, carry the one… ah yes, barely 29% off.
No way. I was determined to get 40% off and so I stuck to my guns – and was roundly rejected.
Fair enough. So I tried to make another offer at $70.
That’s when I ended up in the Priceline penitentiary. Here’s a screen shot of what it looked like:
In case the print on the picture is too small for you to make out, here is what it says:
“Negotiation On Hold: Duplicate Offer Detected – We’re sorry, but your bid is identical to another offer you submitted in the past 24 hours. Your credit card has not been charged. If you wish to submit a new rental car offer for the same location, car type, and pick-up and drop-off date & time, please wait 24 hours. If you would like to Name Your Own Price® again right now, simply choose a new car type below.”
Priceline likes to tout their negotiation skills, but they sure have a funny way of negotiating: name a reasonable price and if it gets rejected, then wait 24 hours before making another offer.
Can you imagine if that’s how people negotiated in real life?
“Hey, Len. Nice garage sale you got going here. I see you have this ash tray marked at $2. What do you say I give you 50 cents for it?”
“Nope, too low, bud. Sorry. That ash tray has a lot of sentimental value to me.”
“Okay, how about…”
“Hut! Stop right there, partner. Only one offer per 24-hour period! Come back tomorrow and make me another one – er, assuming it’s still here.”
Anyway, the rules behind this Priceline “name your price” dance seem like a bit of a joke to me – especially considering the fact that my bid is non-refundable, assuming it’s ever accepted. Nevertheless, I’m going to serve my time and then try again tomorrow.
For the next go around maybe I’ll take their suggestion and bring my price up to $71.
Then again, maybe I won’t.