A new service from Decide.com could guarantee that you never overpay again for that exercise bike, digital camera or lawn mower. The Seattle startup today unveiled a new price guarantee on over 200,000 products, allowing consumers to get cash refunds if Decide.com’s price prediction algorithms incorrectly tell consumers to buy at what they believe are the lowest points.
The service is attempting to capitalize on a growing trend in which retailers dynamically change the price on products, including shoes, consumer electronics, jewelry and even toilet paper.
As part of the new program, after a purchase, a consumer must email the receipt to email@example.com. Decide.com will track the order for 14 days, and if it drops in price, the company will make up the difference.
“We’ve all bought something only to be frustrated when the price drops a few days later,” said Decide.com’s Shauna Causey. “This guarantee gives consumers assurance that won’t happen.”
Decide.com first experimented with its price guarantees back in April, launching a program on a select number of daily deals under the moniker “Got Your Back.” The idea, as is the case with today’s launch, is that consumers could get cash back if Decide.com’s predictions encouraged people to buy, only to see prices rise a short time later.
It’s a unique approach, with Decide.com essentially putting its money where its mouth is. The company believes its algorithms, designed in part by University of Washington computer scientist Oren Etzioni, can accurately predict where prices are headed on a range of products.
“It’s exciting to know that we can shop with data scientists,” says Causey. “Big companies have a massive amount of data and smart technology so they know when to raise and lower prices. Now consumers have that same information.”
With the latest release, the price guarantees will be attached to some 200,000 products on the Decide.com that have “buy” recommendations. The company says this marks the first time that a company has predicted future product prices, and then backed them up with cash.
The guarantees are available free of charge at this point, but eventually will be rolled into a monthly and annual membership program. Decide.com isn’t offering details on pricing of the membership at this point, but in a letter to customers they explain why they made the decision. It reads in part:
We started Decide.com with one goal in mind: You. When you shop with us your experience is completely unbiased and one hundred percent objective. We are not influenced by advertisers and retailers and do not accept payment for highlighting their products. As we take the next step as a business, we had a tough decision to make — either allow advertisers on our site (which would make THEM our customers and we lose our objectivity) or roll out a Decide membership and charge for valuable features.
After some soul searching, the choice became obvious — go all-in and continue serving you. We will continue to be your trusted, unbiased advisor and in the coming weeks, we will introduce a Decide membership. Members will have access to our data-driven price predictions and price guarantees and save hundreds of dollars annually.
Decide.com raised a $6 million venture round last year from Maveron, Madrona, early Google investor and former Amazon.com executive Ram Shriram; former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford and former Farecast CEO Hugh Crean. Former Farecast executive Mike Fridgen, who helped sell the online travel search company to Microsoft for $115 million in 2008, serves as CEO of Decide.com. In 2006, Farecast offered a similar type service on airline tickets called Fare Guard.
Editor’s note: Decide.com Mike Fridgen will be one of the keynote speakers at GeekWire’s Startup Day on September 22nd.