SALT LAKE CITY — Shopping for the best online price for a camera, flat screen TV or other gadget can burn hours of your time. A new e-Commerce site can take the finagling out of getting the right price.
You've probably heard of Priceline, where users make a bid on airline tickets and see if their offer gets accepted. Now there's a Priceline of sorts for appliances, cameras, electronics, even musical instruments. It's called Greentoe.com. If you follow Greentoe's advice, the price you name will likely be the price you'll get.
Damon Kuemmel runs Get-Ready-Room, an outfit that assembles and sells emergency preparedness kits. It offers kits for homes, businesses and cars, but currently its focus is on kits for schools.
"It's got alcohol wipes, Band-Aids, anything they need in case they do get hurt," he explained.
Kuemmel plans to expand with kiosks so people can walk up and custom build their own emergency kits. To do that, he needs flat screen TVs.
"We need great visibility for the people walking by," he explained, "and I was just blown away that my bid was accepted."
"We're saving the customer about 20 percent across the board. We're beating Amazon."
Kuemmel placed the bid through Greentoe.com. He browsed through the TV category until he found the perfect screen and put a bid on it.
"I put in a ridiculously low bid at $120, including shipping and taxes, and they accepted it," he said.
The same monitor sells for $249 at Sears. The closest we could find to Kuemmel's bid was at Amazon for $167, and that was for a used monitor.
"I totally scored," Kuemmel said. "I mean, it's the exact same model."
Greentoe's founder and CEO, Joe Marrapodi, said, "What we're doing with Greentoe is we're trying to make it a verb."
He said customers won't always score a ridiculously low price but they will save big compared to online prices from the big e-tailers.
"We're saving the customer about 20 percent across the board. We're beating Amazon," he said.
On Greentoe, customers name the price they're willing to pay for an item. Once a bid is in, the customer must commit to the sale with a credit card.
"At that point, we notify our network of retailers, they analyze the offer, the price and decide whether or not it's worth it," Marrapodi explained.
What about warranties?
Marrapodi said Greentoe thoroughly vets out each retailer, and each one carries the full manufacturer warranty and a return policy in case something goes wrong.
About three dozen retailers currently offer thousands of products on Greentoe. You won't have to guess whether your offer is reasonable. Greentoe has a price recommendation meter. If your bid lands in the red, you won't get the deal. If it's in the green, you're good to go.
And if it's in the yellow?
"There's an opportunity there, probably 50-50, maybe an even better shot of actually getting the deal," Marrapodi said.
He said so far, about 93 percent of the bids have been accepted.
"We know what they will and what they won't sell the products for," he said. "So what we do is take that information, that intelligence, and we incorporate it into several algorithms. That allows us to guide the consumer to place the proper offer."
The offer covers taxes and shipping. There are no other fees, which Kuemmel is pleased about.
"There's nothing hidden, which is what I like to see. No surprises," he said.