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What You Should Know About Online Pricing | Kiplinger

1. Your online profile could boost the price.

Online re­tailers know all kinds of things about you from the electronic bread crumbs you drop, such as your IP address, and they capitalize on it using price discrimination or differential pricing. For example, a site may charge higher prices after taking note of the Web browser you’re using, your location, your previous shopping habits, or your search history. Or the merchant may steer your search—arranging the results to guide you toward more-expensive items. If a travel site sees that you’re using a MacBook Air or an iPad, say, rather than a Windows desktop, it may show you a pricier selection of hotel rooms.

2. Everybody’s doing it.

A recent study by Northeastern University found that several leading Web commerce sites practiced steering and price discrimination. For example, Cheap Tickets and Orbitz quoted lower prices for users who logged in than for those who didn’t log in—an average of $12 a night less for about 5% of hotels. Expedia and Hotels.com steered a segment of customers toward their more-expensive hotels. Searches of Travelocity’s and Home Depot’s Web sites using certain mobile devices yielded different results and pricing. And Priceline changed search results based on a user’s history of clicks and purchases.

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What You Should Know About Online Pricing-Kiplinger.

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