I had read several articles that warned that online retailers could vary the price they offer you for an item, depending on where you are.
The information stored on your computer every time you browse the internet enables retailers to gather data that influences the prices you are offered online.
An online retailer may offer you a price for an item, and then offer a cheaper price to another person for the same item.
This reality hit home yesterday for me.
I am currently planning a trip to England with a detour to Liverpool for a few days.
I went online through a large travel planning retailer, and I was researching prices while relaxing on the couch with my iPad. I plugged in the dates of the trip, selected hotels in both Liverpool and London, and selected my flights. I then was give a total for the trip.
The total was reasonable, so I went to my desktop computer, where I book all my trips, and entered the same information, through the exact same website, same flights, same airlines, same hotels.
I received a price $500.00 higher than the price I received on my iPad.
I then went back to my iPad to confirm, and it was true.
The same online travel retailer gave me two different prices, for the same exact trip. Nothing was changed. Same dates, same airlines, same hotels, same flights.
I couldn’t believe it. But it was true.
It’s not just your location and browser history. The operating system you use also matters. The Wall Street Journal has stated that some retailers show discounts if you’re using their mobile app (or browsing from their mobile site). Others, like the travel site Orbitz, have been accused of charging more to people who shop from a Mac because Mac users have a higher average household income. (I happen to use a Mac.)
One of the ways retailers track your spending habits is by placing cookies in your browser. If you want to disable this, you need to either shop in your browser’s incognito or private mode, or block third-party cookies. Or you can use one browser for shopping and the other for purchasing.
Many sites offer different prices depending on whether you’re browsing from mobile, Windows, or a Mac. In this case, you need to either check the prices on an alternate device or set your browser up to mimic a different user agent. Some sites offer lower prices to buyers shopping on a mobile app or the retailers mobile site.
When you are shopping online, try to get prices from both the retailers mobile site and their desktop site. And compare different retailers.
This is especially true when planning a trip, as the prices can vary dramatically, as my comparison showed.
As the details of my trip become finalized, I will share them with you.
This trip to London and Liverpool has been at the top of my bucket list for quite some time. And I am finally going to do it!
And you can be sure I will give you a day by day account as it happens, with pictures of course.