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I Was Unhappy with Luxury Link’s Auction System, But I’m Over It

UPDATE (September 27, 2007): This blog post used to be called “Luxury Link Has a Bogus Auction System”, but I thought that was a bit unfair. I changed the name to what you see now. This change was motivated in part by another good experience I had on their site.

UPDATE: While I’m still unsure about the auction system, some folks have made some good points in the comments below. More importantly, as I outline here, Luxury Link delivered an incredible hotel at a ludicrous price. Hence, I’ll be willing to put up with their dubious auction system in the future.

Back in October, I wrote about Luxury Link, an auction site featuring “the world’s premier online luxury travel resource”.

This week, we decided to use the site to add a short city vacation on to our trip to Edinburgh (I was eventually convinced that walking in Scotland in March was insane).

Being an experienced online auction user, I waited until the last minute to submit a bid. Happily, no one had bid on the particular offer we wanted. As this screenshot shows, I entered a bid at 3:27pm on an auction that was supposed to end at 3:30pm. As the second screenshot shows, when the bid was processed, the site changed the auction’s end time to 3:35pm! What kind of bogosity is that?

It strikes me as extraordinarily manipulative move the advertise end time for an auction after someone bids. It’s obviously designed to foster a bidding war. I did a little investigation, and apparently the bidding extends by five minutes each time a new bid is entered. That, as far as I’m concerned, is absurd.

I’m less irritated than I usually would be, though, because I scored an insanely cheap four night stay at the very fancy-looking Boscolo Hotel Dei Dogi in Venice. What can I tell you? I’m a Taurus, and I love the luxury.

22 Responses to “I Was Unhappy with Luxury Link’s Auction System, But I’m Over It”

  1. Jeff

    “I’m less irritated than I usually would be, though, because I scored an insanely cheap four night stay at the very fancy-looking Boscolo Hotel Dei Dogi in Venice. ”

    So you got a cheap price in Venice through this Lux link site then? (just checking cause I’m looking for a place to stay in Venice in March)

  2. Scott

    The closing time is only extended if the new bid is within 5 minutes of the closing time, not for any new bid. This type of auction system isn’t new, the now-defunct ubid.com used it as well.

    I agree, though, that Luxury Link could make this information clearer to users by including a short note below the auction time on the item page.

  3. Michael Kohne

    Interesting – apparently they need to better make this clear to the users – I for one think that this is a great idea. It takes the ‘last second sniping’ thing and throws it out the window. My kind of place.

    Of course, I’d like to see an auction site where auctions only go up for a short amount of time (2 days or so) and then get extended whenever bids occur. But that’s just me…

  4. udge

    I tend to agree that extending the time limit is a good idea, this last-second sniping bid-software makes a mockery of online auctions IMHO – but they should definitely have made that clear to the user.

    I’ve seen your hotel from the street, and it looks pretty swishy. The neighbourhood is nice and quiet, with lots of very good restaurants nearby. Mail me if you want some tips, udgewink at yahoo dot de.

  5. Ryan C

    Darren: I suspect the creators of that auction site thought that last-minute bid-sniping is pretty bogus, too.

    We all do last-minute bidding for a simple reason: it favors buyers by tending to suppress bidding wars. This five-minute advance prevents auctions from being won by snipers without a right of response, just like a live auction works.

    Sure, as a buyer you want your bid to sneak in, but as a market, the auction-extension trick goes a long way to reducing oddities caused by last-minute bidding.

    These effects deserve a more precise analysis; I decline to provide them in your comments :).

  6. marc

    i have bought many many trips from this site all with the exception of one were outstanding excellent value…….i like the 5 minutes because if i really want somthing it allows me to get a last crack at it………..most times it will appear again for the patient barginhunter,,,,,

  7. Melinda

    I am also a savy onliner that uses auction sites to purchase travel. I was really disappointed in luxury link’s approach to their bidding. I was so disappointed in a vacation that I had bid on. I monitored it all week and there was no activity until the last 5 minutes of the auction and then there were two bidders who magically appeared who ended up extending the auction for about an hour and forced the price to close to retail when. I called luxury link to discuss this and I was told that they tried to mimic a real auction where the bidding is extended until there is no one else who places a bid. I accepetd that except for the fact that it made it pretty easy for them to use shills to increase the bids to an acceptable level but that is pure speculation on my part. I told the agent I had seen many auctions go without anyone bidding on them so perhaps their approach was not as appealing as they thought. I was told that many auctions are won privately and the winner was not revealed???? How does that work? I am not sure if anyone else has been told this or understands what she meant. When I asked her for further explanation the agent was vague and pretty much ended the call.

    I am mixed on this site I have not purchased any vacations from it so far so I am reserving my final judgement.

  8. me

    CMon get over it guys. ITs a good thing. But I think people should stop spreading the word and we will all sleep better at night knowing there were no other bidders anyway.

  9. Terri

    I am considering bidding on a vacation through Luxury Link, however I’m concerned that the hotel will not be available the date I want. Are we taking our chances about availability?

  10. hulananni

    I have used luxurylink for 4 (5?) years and have wonderful vacations. Maldives, French Polynesia (2x), Vietnam (5x), Fiji (3x)….I’ve never been disappointed in the properties nor the bidding process.

  11. julia garner

    hi guys
    I have booked some fantastic bargains on luxury link (almost half the cost alot of the time ) Always wait to bid at last minute and have never had the auction extended! Also like to add that i have not had trouble getting the dates I want! Im usually go to the hotel on other sites to check availability so I know it’s not fully booked! Go for it!

  12. I’m Back From the Big V | DarrenBarefoot.com

    […] I wrote a post disparaging Luxury Link’s–the travel site we used to book our Venice accomodation–auction system. I’m still not sure about the system, but I’ve got to credit Luxury Link with getting us a fantastic deal on an insanely posh hotel. The Boscolo Dei Dogi is an 18th century Venetian palace located on a quiet canal near the north edge of the city. Our room was larger than our apartment, with a 20-foot high ceiling, a chandelier, antique furniture and more marble than you can shake a stick at. This kind of thing wouldn’t usually be to my taste, but what better way to see Venice than from a room like this? I felt like a princess. Here are some photos of the room and hotel. […]

  13. Nicholas

    I checked out Luxury Link several times. They seem pretty legitimate. The travel auction site that I use the most is Skyauction. They seem to have more of a variety of different product to choose from and better deals. Their site is also easier to use…in my opinion.

    http://www.skyauction.com

  14. mmsk4

    Have used Luxury Link about 10 times and have always gotten a great deal and loved the hotels. I haven’t really experienced any bad bidding wars guess I’ve been lucky.

  15. beneped@aol.com

    I have used Luxury link twice now for trips to game reserves and must say the bidding process was unfamiliar but the camps were outstanding and availability
    most convenient. Good luck.

  16. ugh

    hi. i am glad to have found this blog, but unfortunately a little too late. i am so frustrated to have booked a “buy now” hotel package for NYE in Rome on LL and to my surprise, a day after i confirmed i received an email from LL saying that my package was no longer available for those dates. funny b/c the package offered was ONLY available for my dates. AND once i confirmed it i had released another hotel i had reserved previously and when i went back to re-reserve that hotel, the prices had skyrocketed (b/c now we’re so close to NYE dates). very frustrating experience. i emailed LL to explain my frustrations and try to understand why they would offer a package that does not exist and have not yet heard a response back.

  17. ugh

    hi. me again. i have still heard no response from LL regarding my situation. not only is it a bogus system, but their customer service center seems not to even exist. unbelievably the worst customer service ever!! i will never book on this site again.

  18. Robert Tessier

    I have connected with many great deals through the Luxury Link auction process. Just realize that the last minute bidding makes it difficult to get the best deals. Wait for the really upscale properties like private homes in Anguilla or Virgin Gorda. Suites are usually a better value than regular rooms.

  19. Scammed by Luxury Link

    Well, I was scammed by Luxury Link. Their so called “Auction” was a huge setup. I placed one bid… Waited a little while, was notified on the web page that I had been outbid. I chose not to bid again and moved on. Five days later, WAM! $1318 billed to my credit card. They manipulated the system to reflect that I was outbid in an effort to get me to bid higher. When I chose not to bid higher, they deleted the previous bid. ALWAYS beware positive feedback on these sites… Businesses are paying employees to search sites and post positive feedback about their business…. HUGE SCAM!

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