Just a quick tip this time

Ok, so this breaks from my trend of doing a daily link, but so what. I’ve been doing a little travel vacationing recently and came across a tip that I want to spread as far and wide as possible. I want to do so because it’s a good trick to know, because it circumvents a shady practice that’s been taking root in the travel industry, and because if it gets widely-spread enough, that shady practice will be entirely useless.

Here’s the thing. If you go online to check rates for plane tickets, or for a hotel (convention rates probably don’t apply here), or for a rental car, or whatever, write down the rate. Write all of them down in a nice text file for yourself and, if you can spare the time, come back to it tomorrow. Look the rates up again, the same way you did before.

Did they go up? There’s a strong chance they did, even if only by a few bucks. This is the shady practice: some of these organizations seem to adjust your rates based on certain data about you, in particular if you’ve visited the site before. I saw it happen as we booked a night at a big name hotel in Vegas, for instance.

Here’s what you do now: go in to your browser settings, clear your cookies, and try again. That’s all there is to it. That Vegas hotel? Ours started at $80, then went up to $120 a few days later, and after clearing cookies, it was $67. No lie.

So there’s your tip. Also, those of you who have wondered why I crusade so hardcore for internet regulation and privacy? Here’s a perfect example of why.