Rules Of The Deal: What You Need To Know When The Next Price Mistake Or Glitch Happens

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Major price mistakes happen several times a year. I’ve been blogging since 2004, so there have been hundreds of incredible deals during that time period. The best deals don’t stick around very long, so it’s critical to know some of these “rules” beforehand.

Just last month saw people landing insane deals on Air Canada flights to cities across the globe and getting all kinds of free stuff at Toys R Us, which people are still reporting getting new stuff daily on DDFB. In July DansDeals readers were able to get 80% off Amazon handyman services.

Airfare glitches sure seem to like my family birthdays. The Air Canada glitch last Sunday happened on the morning of my wife Mimi’s 30th birthday. I had gotten up to make her some belgian waffles, but wound up spending the entire morning blogging about the deals available. Sorry Mimi!

United’s 4 mile island glitch that allowed bookings to Hong Kong in first class for just 4 United miles occurred on a Sunday afternoon just as we were starting Rafi’s first birthday party.

On a Saturday evening in late November 2010 there was a glitch for free Las Vegas vacations. Free airfare, free Bellagio suites, free Cirque tickets, free limo transfers, etc. Some friends had asked for us to hang out with them, but I was in the zone and blogging away about the possibilities. Eventually Mimi had to tell me that the friends asking to hang out was just a ruse and that there were several dozen people waiting at a surprise party to wish me a happy birthday. Sheepishly I turned off my computer and went to the party. Once there, everyone was incredulous that I didn’t bring my laptop. One guest went home to retrieve his laptop and when he returned I wound up booking free five star Vegas vacations for everyone at the party!

For some odd reason I haven’t had a surprise party since then.

On the day after Mimi’s birthday in 2013 there was a USAirways glitch with tickets to Israel from $302 and on a Saturday evening in late November 2013 Wideroe Airlines gave me another birthday surprise when they created a glitch on United with $127 tickets to Europe and $287 tickets to Israel.

Is it right to take advantage of a glitch? Sometimes a glitch isn’t a glitch at all, but it’s created to generate publicity or profit (just ask Wideroe). But I’m not your Rabbi, Priest, or ethicist. If you are uncomfortable with a price mistake, then don’t do it. Or ask someone who is one. I’m just here to provide the information and people can do with it what they want. I wrote about some of the halachic (Jewish law) implications of airfare mistakes for the Yated a couple of years ago here.

I’m forgetting some of the other birthday glitches that have popped up over the years, but I suppose one rule might be to stay alert around my family’s birthdays 😉

Of course not all glitches follow that rule. The Delta 2013 glitch with $50 first class tickets to LA, Alaska, and Hawaii happened just after I landed from a red-eye from LA to Cleveland from giving a DansDeals seminar there, so it’s not always on birthdays.

But it is my daughter’s birthday this week, so maybe we’ll get lucky again 😀

And my birthday always occurs within a week of Black Friday…

Rules of the deal:

  • Don’t call.
    • Don’t talk to the airline or companies offering a deal while the deal is live. You can always ask questions once the deal is gone.
  • Don’t hesitate.
    • These deals never last long, you’ve got to act very fast. Luckily sites like Priceline and Orbitz provide the ability to cancel a ticket for free until the day after you book. That allows you to make a quick ticket and then analyze whether you want to use it after the craziness settles.
    • With some really crazy deals like 4 mile island, the only tickets that were honored were people who booked tickets to travel that week. Luckily there were DDFers who were able to drop everything and fly in first class around the world for just 4 miles.
  • Don’t forget to book your baby!
    • A common theme that I’ve seen with price mistakes is that people forget to book tickets for their infant children. You need to pay 10% of the normal fare for the privilege of holding your child on international tickets. My opinion is that you should always buy a seat and have a carseat for your infant just like you would in a car. But even if that is normally cost prohibitive, when you are getting a tickets to Israel for just $350, surely you should book a seat for the infant rather than pay for the right to hold the infant.
    • Sometimes websites won’t allow infants or kids to book a ticket. The date of birth on a ticket isn’t actually matched up with anything, so I’ve been known to add 100 years to the age of my kids when I need to and I’ve never run into any issues.
    • When our kids were under a year old they went on a plane in their Chicco Keyfit 30 while we gate checked the UppaBaby Vista that pushed the carseat to the plane. Now we use 2 GoGoBabyz Travelmates, which we use to make it easy to push Rafi in an Evenflo Maestro travel carseat and Talia in a Cosco Scenara travel carseat.
  • Don’t use fly-by-night online travel agencies.
    • There are always reports of people who book glitches on various fly-by-night online travel agencies that wind up getting cancelled even when everyone else has their tickets honored. The reason for that is that many of those agencies don’t have instant ticketing, so those bookings were cancelled. This often happens with the smaller online travel agencies and is why I don’t recommend using them. I haven’t seen any reports of people who booked tickets from Priceline or Orbitz being cancelled in those situations.
  • PGFHGS
    • A common acronym found on the DansDeals Forums is PGFHGS, or pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Ordering a few items on a price mistake won’t raise any flags and your order may ship, but ordering hundreds of items in one order means that the order is unlikely to be honored and it may ruin for others as well.
  • Browse incognito.
    • If a deal isn’t working for you, open an incognito browser window and try again. You can use the setting menu in your browser to open one up, or in Chrome you can click Ctrl+Shift+N to open one.
  • Mobile browser/desktop browser.
    • Sometimes a deal will only work on a desktop browser or will only work on a mobile browser. If you’re on a mobile device you can go into your browser menu and click “Request desktop site” if your mobile browser isn’t working and you don’t have access to a computer.
  • Follow @DansDeals on Twitter.
    • Every day I get mail from email subscribers about missing deals and I get dozens of emails when there’s a big deal. The email digest is just a roundup of the previous day’s deals, if you want real time alerts you’ll want to follow @DansDeals on Twitter and have Twitter send you a text message whenever a new deal is posted.  Once you’re signed up you never have to go onto Twitter again if you don’t want to. You can also send an SMS to 40404 with the text: follow @DansDeals for instant alerts, but that won’t allow you to customize alerts like Twitter to block messages during specified hours, etc.

  •  Join DDF
    • Many great deals are posted on the DansDeals Forums before they are posted on DansDeals.com, so it’s always a good idea to check there for the latest deals. Besides for deals, DDF is also an amazing resource for planning a trip, questions about credit cards, and much more.
  • Create your own free trip!

You can view credit card offers by hovering over the “Credit Cards” tab. You can then click on “Credit Cards From All Banks“ to find card offers via the logo of the bank you’re looking for. 

You can also learn more about my favorite hobby by clicking on the credit card and points menus on the top of this site or by browsing the DansDeals Forums to search and read about strategies.

Once you have the miles you can read through posts like Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints.

What are some of the best deals you’ve nabbed over the years? What other rules would you add to this list? Hit the comments!

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29 Comments on "Rules Of The Deal: What You Need To Know When The Next Price Mistake Or Glitch Happens"

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Work-for-ur-muny

Wow! What a post! Should be stickied on top somewhere.
Thanks for the write up.

Vicky

Every “mistake” price deal I ordered, was cancelled, thanks to some ” FOOLS” ordering hundreds of the same item.

Sam1

#DonateAbirthday4Dan

Erik

Maybe an ethical issue, but I have a policy of NOT leaving NEGATIVE feedback when someone does not honor a price mistake. I’d encourage the same, especially for non-multi billion dollar companies

Yelped

I agree 100%! I find it appalling and frankly, embarrassing, when people complain and kvetch about their items getting cancelled. I’m not judging anybody taking advantage of a price mistake, but to get upset at a company who is not interested in taking a huge loss, and to call them names etc is something that is incomprehensible.

Yossi

And sometime it pays to pay for rush shipping.

chaim

@Dan What a beautiful post!
I need a list of your familly birthdates

Me

Please post the dates of all of your family members birthdays.

Mikey

Thanks for the birthdate advice. The one that advises that a wrong birthday on an airline reservation has no meaning. This has come in very handy .

granola

Whats happening with October Air berlin tickets?

cook

That the DOB has no bearing on the ticket, is that true for adults also? If the airline allows me to change a first name on a ticket for instance (but not the DOB) is this new ticket holder safe? Will noone at the airport or beyond be concerned that the DOB doesnt match? (DOB still that of the original ticket holder)

Mark

Is there a way for me to make big money and “tens of millions of miles” without having where to spend thousands of dollars?

manufacture spending

yes

Yehupitz

Hey Dan, perhaps this has been brought up before, I’m not sure. I’m very busy at work, and would love to know about these Price Mistake deals. But my phone can’t be buzzing every time Settlers of Catan goes on sale. Get my drift? Is the twitter notifications all or nothing, or is there any way to get notified just when the crazy hot deals come up? If not, can you start a second Twitter account for just the “Hurry!” deals?

Chaim

Yes was long thinking of that idea.
I think you’ll have thousands of more followers if you make a twitter account only for the deals that don’t happen every day ( wish it would).

Self-centered

Well, I think we should just give Dan our info and have HIM buy the stuff for us whenever there’s a great deal. This way we won’t ever have to visit his website. Why should we patronize his site?

Yehupitz

Thanks for adding nothing to the conversation, self-centered.

well...

you clearly missed his piont…

Yehupitz

What is “self-centered”s point then? We would visit the site at our leisure and get notified when there is an excellent deal or price mistake. Are you implying that in order to support the site we need to get notified of every deal?

Lindnuck

Agree, it seems what people are most interested in is price mistakes on airfare. Perhaps a separate alert system just for these? Thanks Dan!

Vanilla

+1

Ari

One more piece of advice- make sure that you know all your passwords.
I know someone who lost out on the AC deal because he forgot his “verified by visa” password and by the time he reset it the deal was gone.

JB

One of the most important tips for families: Know which dates you can travel BEFORE there’s a glitch. This way the second the glitch/sale starts you can book right away instead of trying to coordinate the best dates to travel that works with 8 different schedules. By the time you figure out when you can travel the deal will usually be gone.

Ab

I don’t get what you mean by following dansdeals forums there’s like over 100,000 post on the forums how am I supposed to follow the forums?

VJ

This is not a complaint, just FYI. My kids booked the Air Canada glitch to TLV through YYZ through Priceline and it worked fine for 5 tix. I used kayak which used vayama. It appeared to book ok, and it even let me purchase the insurance, but 4 hours later I got a notice that it was not honored. Apparently they do not book immediately. Vayama did give me a $100 credit. Still trying to get the insurance fee refunded. My wife and I used Sapphire Reserve points to pay for (most of) the $939 ELAL nonstop, so all is well that ends well. (It did go down $100 per ticket later, but it’s all good.)

piresn

Great summary and advice Dan. Thank you

sue

My borderfree target order got cancelled and subsequently got an email saying my order is on the way. Is there any way to sue borderfree for cancelling all those thousands of orders to israel?

Nancy Klotz

Does anyone know of anyone flying in from Israel to either Chicago or New York for Succos? We need an adult to accompany my 8 year old grandson who went back to Israel for the month while his sister had cardiac surgery. His Air Berlin flight was just cancelld.

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