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Priceline.com expanding its galaxy of products


If you listen much to radio, you've undoubted heard actor William Shatner promoting the services of Priceline.

Priceline and its Web site, Priceline.com, hit the Web last April, exploring the strange, new world of name-your-own prices for airline tickets.

Since April, Priceline has expanded its offering beyond air fares to include new cars and hotel rooms.

Last week, the company expanded its galaxy of services to now include home mortgages, with plans to also offer home refinancing and home equity loans in the near future.

The "name-your-price" Priceline theme applies with the Home Financing Service as well, and consumers can pick their own rate and terms.

Consumers can apply online for financing if they already have a home picked out, or they can pre-qualify for financing and then shop for a home.

Users of the service will have an answer in two business days.

Priceline has partnered with The Lending Tree, an online loan center and licensed mortgage broker to offer the service.

The finance applications are broken down in simple-to-complete secure online forms. There's plenty of help available for questions as well.

There's no charge to apply for a loan online, though lenders have the right to charge a $200 "good faith" deposit to your credit card. If approved, this deposit would be credited toward closing costs.

Once approved, buyers contact the lender directly to complete the deal, which will include verifying the online application data, appraisals, etc.

Will you save money using Priceline?

The key to saving money using Priceline is knowing the markets and knowing current rates and terms. And no matter if you shop locally or go online for your home financing, being armed with the latest information is your best bet for getting a deal both you and your lender can deal with.

CABLE CREEPS CLOSER. Intermedia Partners, the cable TV serving portions of northern Hardin County, is currently testing high-speed Internet with an eye on rolling out the service to its 40,000 customers in April.

Twenty randomly selected testers are now trying the new Intermedia @Home service, with an additional test rollout of the service to 200 more homes last week, all in the Okolona area of Jefferson County.

Intermedia @Home offers some incredible speed advantages over Internet access via telephone lines.

Subscribers to the service are guaranteed access to the Internet at speeds of at least 1.54 megabytes per second.

Access via cable modem can be as much as 100 times faster Internet access via a regullar telephone line. The signal is carried into the home on the cable TV cable, so no telephone line is required (or tied up) while online.

But it is a premium service, and is priced that way too. After paying a $149 installation fee and buying a cable modem ($250 or less), the service will be priced at $29.95 per month.

But Intermedia expects 15 percent of its 200,000 subscribers will sign up for the service over the next two years.

For updates on Intermedia's cable Internet access, visit their Web site at www.intermedialou.com.

YAHOO! BUYS GEOCITIES. Yahoo! announced last week it qill acquire Geocities, one of the world's best-known community Web sites offering free Internet publishing.

GeoCities was a pioneer in building communities on the Web, and offers more than 3.5 million Web sites. Combined with the Yahoo! network, the combined company should be a formidable market force, combining the top communtiy Web site and search site.

HMO INFO. Medicare, the government's program that provides health care for the country's senior citizens, now offers information about private health plans.

The site will offer detailed comparisons on Medicare plans by name and area.

Medicare is also putting the same sort of information together in printed form. This information will be distributed next fall, according to a Reuters wire report.

To check out the new data, visit the Medicare comparisons posted at www.medicare.gov.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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