Online shopping: Why you don’t always get the best price

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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Your computer is watching you and telling vendors the highest price you will pay
Big Brother is not the government – it’s internet vendors who spy on us

In 1984 , George Orwell predicted a world with the government spying on us.
In reality the biggest spies may be companies who track our every move and purchase with credit card records, affinity programs and computer cookies.
There isn’t much that can be done about it except be aware when prices change and ignore advertising.
The next time you purchase a vacation, airline ticket or online merchandise, vast computer systems are predicting in real time what you will pay.
The systems are so obvious the price can change from one screen to another, even at the checkout things like free freight and discount coupons can disappear putting your costs higher than expected. 
If your credit card records identify you as low income or of a low socio-economic class, the vendor can and does raise the price of the airline ticket. Why not? You are not considered smart enough to shop around.
Your shopping history may show a pattern of paying higher prices. Those darned cookies will let the next vendor know and up goes your cost.
Yesterday I was researching video cameras and stayed on one site to watch their video. Today, the product placement ads for that company are appearing on almost every site I visit.
Is the product really popular, which is what they want customers to believe, or has my computer inherited a cookie telling advertisers to repeat a “buy” message from that vendor.
The problem is widespread but no one is willing to tackle it head on or ban the advertisements and tracking cookies. See New York Times Retargeting Ads Follow Surfers to Other Sites
The simplest way to avoid these stealth trackers is to use “InPrivate Browsing” in IE or “Private Browsing” in Firefox. The downside is you will need to remember all those login names and passwords because the browsers don’t store them for private browsing.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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