Last week I passed on a bad experience one of you had with priceline.com, but asked you to send me your good experiences. (A company with a market cap that’s approached $25 billion ought to have quite a legion of fans.) It may be more a testament to the small size of my readership than anything else, but to my surprise, I got just one response, albeit a very good one. It’s from Tony Spina, who writes:

“I used priceline.com to buy three roundtrip airline tickets from Detroit Metro Airport to Houghton, Michigan, with short notice for a 100% discretionary trip. Best price I could find using travelocity.com, nwa.com, etc., was $900 each. Priceline accepted my first offer of $250 each. All went perfectly. I was happy — except next time I will start at a lower bid. While priceline will not let you make more than one bid for a certain trip on a given day, the way it keeps track of this is by the credit card number. Use a different credit card each time and you can bid repeatedly for the same trip at gradually escalating prices.”

Houghton, Michigan, as best I can tell, is in Northern Wisconsin (which Michigan appears to have won in a war I never heard about, possibly with the aid of Canada, which also seems a more likely home for Houghton). The airport you are looking for is the Hancock/Houghton airport. Tony saved $1,950 with priceline, paying $750 instead of $2700. Not that he would actually have gone for $2,700. So what really happened is that priceline made his trip possible.

This won’t work for travelers who have to be someplace at a specific time — you are committed to flying any time on the day you specify, and can’t back out of the deal if you don’t like the time — or routing — priceline finds at your price. But for the right kind of flier (or hotel guest or car buyer or mortgage applicant), priceline can be a real money saver.

 

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