Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bait and Switch, Not Today

Back to marketing. Had an interesting experience the other night. I was doing what a lot of folks do, I was shopping online for a hotel for a two night stay in Chicago.

I Googled something like "cheap hotels" or "hotel deals" and the usual suspects showed up, Expedia, Orbitz,, Priceline, etc.

I ended up clicking on the link for one of these groups due to the rate they had advertised. A fantastic $56 per night for a Suite in a Marriott property. Great deal, right?

I went to the site and halfway through securing the room from the site, it appeared that the rate was an average rate only if you stayed for three nights. For my two night stay the rate was going to cost more. This would not have been a big deal but I was not notified of this until I had spent time securing the room. In my opinion this is a mild version of the old bait and switch.

Needless to say that did not sit well with me and I proceeded to take my business elsewhere. The moral of the story? If you are a company using the web to grow your business, and you invest in things like pay per click adds, SEO and/or other efforts to drive traffic to your site, secure the deal with your customers by offering and executing legitimate deals. In this day and age where people can blog, Twitter and communicate in other quick and easily spread ways, your bunk offer may just influence more than one person into not doing business with you.

Frankly, I cannot believe that in 2009 I experienced what is a very basic mistake on a large national travel web site. I was shocked they tried using this tired and illegitimate tactic.

Why am I not naming the culprit? I have grown tired of blowing a whistle every time I have a bad experience. At some point businesses are going to have realize how to treat customers, without having the random blogger who really is not in their business tell them how to do something as basic as offering legit pricing for their service/products. Maybe all the companies I mentioned above will re-examine their operations and decide to insure that their pricing is clear and not misrepresented in order to "fool" a customer into a higher price.

In some weird way I really do not feel an obligation to call the company out by name, rather call out the activity so others may be aware.

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