$5,000 Porsche

Porsche-Boxter-1 The Porsches are sexy cars, and I’d very much enjoy driving one. Preferably a convertible, but I’d settle for a coupe. Unfortunately, the Porsches sell for about $50,000 and up. Way up.

So when American Express announced that they’d be selling three Porsche Caymans coupes for one-tenth their normal retail price, I sat up and took notice. It’s part of their annual “My Wishlist” promotion, where they sell in-demand items at significant discounts. I really, really wanted that Porsche.

The way the promotion works is each day at a specific time, one item is available for sale in (severely) limited quantities. The Porsche, for example, had three cars available, one each for 9am, Noon and 4pm (Pacific timezone). At the appointed time, you click a button and (if the server isn’t completely swamped by millions of other Amex users trying to get a great deal), you’re asked to enter a code, and, assuming someone hasn’t done that ahead of you, you’re then offered a chance to purchase the item on the spot. If you don’t buy it in time, you lose and the next lucky person to get in gets the shot.

American Express It's Almost Time imageAnd so I found myself Monday morning at 8:59am, in my office, three computers surrounding me, furiously clicking away on the “I Want It/Try Again” button only to be constantly frustrated by the cheery “It’s almost time!” response.

Then suddenly it happened!

One of the computers didn’t have an “It’s almost time!” screen. No, this was different. This was asking me to enter a code! Could it be? Could I really be that lucky? I started entering the code, pounding furiously at the keyboard.


Nothing was showing up on my screen.

I grabbed the trackball and slung the cursor into the text box, but wait, there was no cursor.

Aaarrgh! My keyboard and mouse weren’t working! I rushed to unplug and replug the devices, then entered the letters and numbers as quickly as I could, all the time cursing my luck.

“Sorry. This item is in another member’s cart. But don’t give up!”


I sat there dejectedly for a moment. “So close!” Then I realized it said “don’t give up”. Hm? And then I saw the “Try Again” button was still there. I clicked again, and… got another code entry form! Quickly I typed in the series, mumbling them to myself as I did. “j x v 9 7 t return”.

“Sorry. This item is in another member’s cart. But don’t give up!”


Again I clicked. Again I got a form. Again I typed and mumbled. “6 6 g t y 4 return”. Again “Sorry”.

I was swinging back and forth among three computers, repeating this click-type-click-type game.

“Sorry. This item is in another member’s cart. But don’t give up!”

Fifteen minutes I did this, until finally, relievedly, it ended.

You missed it!

It was over. I stopped clicking, and calmed down from the rush of trying to purchase a $50,000 car for $5,000. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t get in. After all, I’d then have to pay $5,000, plus taxes on $50,000 (over $4,000 for state and local, plus title and destination). And then get insurance for a $50,000 sports car. And fill it up with premium gas. And take it to a Porsche dealership for tuneups and repairs. And pay traffic tickets for speeding or simply DWB in a Porsche.

Yup, I got lucky. All that money and hassle saved.

So why in the world did I try again at Noon and 4pm? Sigh.