Be Careful, Priceline Users! Name a Wrong Price and You May Go To Jail

Source: Len Penzo []

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 family vacation 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. Then, I noticed a Priceline ad that proclaimed this: “Name your own price and save up to 40%!”

Forty percent! Awesome!

So, taking Priceline at its word, I decided to offer them $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. Might.

To be clear, Priceline didn’t say I had to submit a higher price; but they did note 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.

Well … I decided to say “phooey!” to their lame suggestions. After all, Priceline bragged that I could save up to 40% off, and a bid of $71 comes to, um, lets see … carry the one … Ah, yes … barely 29% off.

Not good enough, I figured. Since I was determined to get 40% off, I stuck to my guns and entered another $60 bid.

And Priceline rejected it. Again.

Fair enough. So I made a third offer; this time for $70.

That’s when I ended up in the Priceline penitentiary. Here’s a screen shot:


In case the fine print is too small for you to make out, here’s 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 doing it. Can you imagine if people negotiated with each other the same way Priceline does with their customers?

“Hey, Len. Nice garage sale you got going here. I see you’re selling this ash tray for $2.”

“Yeah, Joe; it’s a real beauty, isn’t it?”

“I’ll say! How about I give you 50 cents for it?”

“Fifty cents! Sorry, bud. No can do. That ash tray has a lot of sentimental value to me.”

“Oh, come on, Len! Fifty cents is a very reasonable offer. Please take it.”

“Sorry, Joe. As I previously said, 50 cents is a bit low.”

“Okay, then. Then how about –”

“Hut! Stop right there, my friend. You made the exact same offer twice in a 24-hour period! But feel free to come back tomorrow and I’ll let you bid again. Have a nice day!”


Anyway, the rules behind this Priceline “name your price” dance seem like a bit of a joke to me — especially since my bid is non-refundable. Well … assuming it’s ever accepted.

Nevertheless, I’m going to serve my time and then try again tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll take their suggestion next time and bring my price up to $71.

Then again, maybe I won’t.


Photo Credit: HarshLight



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