Price Discrimination: Shopping Expert's Tips On How To Avoid Online Retailers' Tricks

Expert tips on price discrimination on online shopping

Price discrimination is fast becoming one of the major problems for consumers when buying online, with prices changing for every user. If you regularly shop online, especially for goods such as flights and other services that have fluctuating prices on a regular basis, it is likely that you will have unconsciously been the victim of price discrimination, especially if you often look at products multiple times before you decide to buy them. If you want to ensure that you are able to get the best prices on your desired goods when shopping online, this guide will discuss the key steps to changing your shopping habits to avoid price discrimination.

What is Dynamic Pricing?

Dynamic pricing is a method that companies use to align the cost of products with the current demand for them. This means that the more views that a certain product gets, the more likely that the price of this product will increase. As a consumer, if you regularly look at a product more than once, the online demand for this product will increase, and dynamic pricing will ensure that when you come to buy this product, it will be at a higher cost than when you first viewed the item. Companies determine this demand through your browser history and location to understand your buying habits and adapt their costs towards these. These are often collected through software and tools such as cookies, which are able to track and analyse your buying habits and how companies can take advantage of these. However, there are many methods that allow you too avoid the pitfalls of dynamic pricing and make sure that you are offered a reasonable price.

How to Avoid Dynamic Pricing

If you want to avoid dynamic pricing, there are a selection of viable methods that you should implement to allow you to see the best prices available regardless of your location or the products which you have viewed in the past. These include everything from making your history private to avoiding shopping on certain websites.

  • One of the major methods that many consumers use to avoid dynamic pricing is to change their IP address or block websites from accessing their location. Many businesses use location to predict your average household income, and this may mean that those who live in wealthier areas may see a drastic increase in the cost of the items available online. One options could be to give the website a postcode which you believe has a lower income level, or use a VPN which can hide the key information about your browsing location from the company in question.

  • Although cookies will not naturally hinder your buying experience, third party cookies can damage your browsing time as these track your buying habits and allow businesses to see your most viewed products, products that you are interested in, and those that you are likely to buy. If you look at products multiple times, this can increase their demand and lead to higher prices. Then, disabling cookies stops businesses from tracking you when you are online.

  • Dynamic pricing can be easy to spot if you are aware of the signs, such as prices exponentially increasing over a matter of days. If this is the case, you should avoid using this company and choose one which does not appear to use dynamic pricing. You can find the best company for pricing and your product by using price comparison websites which can compare not only the price but the qualities and benefits of your chosen item.

  • Another good way to avoid dynamic pricing is to use a different device such as another computer, a phone, or a tablet to make your purchase once you have found the right product for you. You can also use different tabs to buy products which will allow you to buy products regardless of the inherent demand of the product. A more extensive version of this is choosing to use different browsers entirely to make purchases, such as switching from Internet Explorer to Firefox when you come to make a final purchase and move to the checkout process. It is also important that you take the necessary steps to clear your browser history and bookmarks through opening up the options tab on your browser.

  • Additionally, signing into your account on websites which have loyalty schemes can also affect the pricing of products as this allows businesses to connect your browsing history with the same person and determine more accurate results in terms of the products that you are likely to buy. Not only this, but businesses are also able to determine how much you spend on products, and they can suggest similar products which is likely to make you spend more on the same purchase. Looking like a first time customer may also benefit you as companies are more likely to lure you in to a purchase with offers of better deals and prices to make sure that you consider investing in their services.

  • Similar to downloading a VPN, you should also consider browsing in incognito or private mode which will allow your individual preferences to become disconnected from you as a user, meaning that you will be able to avoid price discrimination and see prices that have not been influenced by other factors, such as your location or history.

When you are considering shopping online, it is important to establish methods to avoid many of the internet’s major pitfalls as well as how to take advantage of its benefits. Price discrimination can impact the amount of money that a product costs, which can seriously damage your finances, especially if you often buy more expensive products such as flights and gadgets, which are more likely to be impacted by dynamic pricing. Whether you decide to change your browser or disable cookies, however, there is an extensive range of different methods and resources that you can use to reduce the extent of the dynamic pricing which you are a victim of online.