Look out internet shoppers, two electronic systems called “dynamic pricing,” and “differential pricing,” are stalking you. Dynamic pricing is the program retailers use to adjust to supply and demand. Airlines determine fares with it, for example, and so do hotels. The higher the demand, the higher the price. That comes as no surprise to anyone. Differential pricing is less well known and most offensive. In this case, price has nothing to do with availability. The determination is based on what the system imagines you will pay based upon your past buying habits and your debt load. And if you think customer loyalty will cut you a deal, think again. Because you’re a regular, you’re likely to pay a higher price than someone who’s new to the store or product.
All this discrimination is brought to you through the courtesy of Big Data. Retailing today is all about snooping and adjusting prices accordingly. But there are ways to combat differential pricing and Sara Mangla offers some advice. (“Capture Those Fleeting Deals,” by Sara Mangla, Money Magazine, September 2014, pgs. 25-26)
First, you can begin by reading, How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles and Shady Deals, by Christopher Elliott. Second, clear your browser of cookies from time to time. Don’t know how to do that? …try opening a ‘private’ window on Firefox or an ‘incognito’ window on Chrome or turn on ‘private browsing’ in Safari, all of which let you surf without saving cookies. (Ibid pg. 26) Internet Explorer offers nothing to counter cookies but free programs exist that will do it for you. Do not Follow is one of the most popular.
Second, use multiple browsers or devices. A different IP address can turn up a different price, even if you’ve cleared cookies. (Ibid, pg 26.) And here’s a trick Mangla says is worth trying. After you’ve shopped and filled your internet cart, don’t execute the order. Let it sit for a few days. When merchandisers see unexecuted sales, some of them get nervous and will send a discount coupon to sweeten the deal. According to her, Macy’s, Williams-Sonoma and Bed Bath and Beyond respond well to this strategy. (Ibid pg. 26) It worked for me once and I wasn’t trying. My computer froze.
Finally, Camelcamelcame.com lets you do a price watch for Amazon to get the best buys. Invisible Hand is a browser extension you can install for Chrome, Firefox and Safari which offers similar price watches. (Ibid pg. 26)
It’s a consumer jungle out there as we all know. You have to keep your wits about you if you want to escape the cookie monster.
(Courtesy of www.case.monash.edu.au)