Does Capital One Offer Different Loan Rates Based On Your Browser Software?

from the give-IE-users-the-sucker's-rate dept

Consumerist is pointing to the claims of a guy who noticed that Capital One offered him really different car loan rates, depending on which browser he was using. He was using Firefox, and saw a rate of 3.5%. That was different than a rate promised to him in an email, so he thought perhaps the calculator wasn't working properly in Firefox (since he was using the beta version of Firefox 4). So he opened up Safari... and got a rate of 2.7%. Then he checked chrome: 2.3% and Opera: 3.1%. No word on how much more (and you know it would be more) you'd have to pay if you used IE.

I just tried it myself and saw the same thing. Here's the loan rate page if you'd like to try for yourself. For me, it's 3.5% in Firefox and 2.7% in Chrome. I found an old machine that still has IE... and it's actually showing the same Firefox rate of 3.5%. I also checked it out with Dolphin Browser on my Android phone... and got offered a 2.3% rate. It's kind of strange. A commenter on the Consumerist article suggests it's random -- saying that if you reload, you get different rates, but that doesn't appear to be the case for me. It might be that the initial display is somewhat random however, though that does seem like incredibly misleading advertising from Capital One...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    thublihnk (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 11:59am

    It's interesting to think of what kind of values judgment Capital One is saying based on what browser I use. Am I less fiscally responsible on Firefox!?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    The random idea fits

    I just checked with Firefox 3.6; 2.7%, IE 9 Beta 1; 2.3%, and Chrome 7; 3.5%.

    So if you don't like the percentage they offer the first time, clear your cashe and try again.

    Anyone get below 2%?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Dez (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 12:24pm

    Low low rates

    I got 3.50% rates in chrome where IE gave me 2.30% rates. Whoa

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Isn't this pretty much meaningless though since they're going to look at your credit anyhow to calculate it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Colin (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    3.1% in Chrome, 3.5% in IE 32 Bit and 3.25% in IE 64 bit on the same machine. Clearly my laptop is a bad credit risk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Designerfx (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    interesting

    wonder where they come up with it. 3.5 on firefox, 2.7 on IE 8(32bit)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    Perhaps...

    Capital One just knows that people who have Firefox installed work the hardest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    kyle clements (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    2.70% with firefox 3.6 in ubuntu.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    TeeParty Millionare Winner, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    Quit Yer Bitchin'

    It's well known that people that have Firefox installed as their primary browser are indeed worth more, and accomplish more per hour.

    You make it sound like this this a bad thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

    Iwonder what I would get...

    ...for using Lynx...hmmmm....need to find my old digital unix box and find out...:P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:08pm

    It seems random.

    Clear your cookies (all or just of capital one).
    First time I got 2.7%
    Second time I got 2.3%
    Firefox both times.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    imbrucy (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Iwonder what I would get...

    Someone on Slashdot already tried and said they got 3.5. It sure sounds like that's the default.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Iwonder what I would get...

    I tried links (close enough I guess...) got 2.7%

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Fred, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    Obviously an A/B Test in the wild.

    This is clearly an A/B test in the wild:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A/B_testing

    The different browsers are getting different rates because they're getting identified as different sessions (probably through cookies). I tried it on two different Chrome profiles and got different rates, so its definitely tied to a session, not a general browser agent.

    Capital One is obviously trying to figure out if they offer a different rate on this page, whether it will affect the click through rate.

    The problem is when people try different browsers and figure out that they can get different rates. The literature on A/B testing tends to discourage using these kinds of tests for prices as it inevitably leads to frustrated consumers feeling like they've been manipulated.

    The irony is that this kind of price experimentation happens all the time in the regular market, it just doesn't happen in such obvious parallelism.

    Once they collect enough data (e.g. which loan rate leads to a statistically significant higher conversion rate for that page), they'll likely end the test and pick that rate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:12pm

    I tried about 10 times in IE7 private mode
    random from 2.35 to 3.9 and several in between.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    TeeParty Millionare Winner, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Our lobbyists are in contact with lawmakers to fix this problem.

    Right now, we have a team engaged at the House of Representatives that are working tirelessly on fixing this problem.

    Their goal is to make The Fed loan money at a negative interest rate!

    Stay tuned!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    Dirty Hackers.

    3.10% on chrome for windows and 3.50% for lynx on ubuntu.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:26pm

    I got 2.7% in IE, and 3.1% in SRWare Iron. Pretty sure it's randomly generated and stored in a cookie, not based on specific browsers.
    Interesting to learn that so many other people are using multiple browsers, though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Dan, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    You know that you will never get the rate in the ad

    Almost everyone should know that you will never get the same rate as promised in the ad when you actually apply for one. It is always going to be higher... reasoning... simple - "well, based on your individual credit score we can offer 2% more than the advertised rate. We have already mentioned in the fine prints which you cannot find easily". :D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Qritiqal (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    i see these rates by browser:

    Chrome: 3.1% (36 month new car)
    IE: 2.3%
    Firefox: 2.7%

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    Just Scratching the Surface

    I have noticed a couple of times, when doing comparison shopping, that the same product can be priced differently on the same website!!!!

    What really irks me are the "fake" websites that are built on demand when undertaking a product search. Turns out, in many cases, that they do not even have the product.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    Does it really matter??

    Companies have ALWAYS done this type of thing. Before the internet they sent out mailling offers with different offers based on which mail list they got your address from. Or which marketing program they were using.

    It's a way for them to judge which marketing program or mailling list generates the most business.

    The different promotions for different browsers shouldn't shock anyone. In fact I am shocked it's taken this long for them to get around to doing it. I wouldn't be too shocked if they haven't had different promotions based on operating systems as well.

    And by the way for those of you that think your interest rate is somehow based on your ability to repay, that's only a small part of it too. Interest rates are also a way to generate profit, so they will try to get you at as high of a rate as they think you will still take the loan for.

    Capital One is probably one of the worste at that game, I consistantly get 1 to 2 points higher from their offers that I get from other Lendors.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Comboman (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 1:52pm

    more data

    I get 3.1% on Firefox 3.6 (WinXP), 2.7% on IE8 (WinXP) and 2.7% on Safari (iPhone).

    Since it would make more sense to base car insurance rates on location, I wonder if it's doing an IP location lookup and getting different results based on the browser?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    Just used my Windows 7 Phone Edition and wowza...!

    I just applied for a Capital One card using my Gold Plated Windows 7 Phone Bing CashBack Edition handset that Ken Bammer sent.

    Believe it or not, Fedex just dropped off a crate filled with a family of Chinese servants!

    Now that's amazing phone service!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    I emailed them about this a while back... they never replied... my ranking by browser was at the time the following.

    chrome = ie = wget > opera > lynx > firefox

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    mosaic user, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:18pm

    variable pricing

    I notice no one metioned the timing of each price search. Having spent many years doing purchasing for a technical college,I know you can use this technique to your advantage. If you keep two or more sessions open using different browsers, you'll be quoted variable pricing.When you are ready to buy,wash your cookies and open a new session with the leakiest browser. Then start at the sites you don't wish to buy from first.You will often find when you end at your preferred site,your price will have dropped below what it was first offered at.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    latin angel (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Re:

    DING !!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    dumb dumb teabagger, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Thanks for ruining it for us

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Eugene (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Obviously an A/B Test in the wild.

    Sounded like a per-session thing to me too, with the final number stored in a browser cookie.

    Keep in mind though, that it may not be a test per-se. You're right that this happens a lot in the market, but many times it happens with no clear goal attached to it. For example, if you reserve a rental car at Enterprise's website, the quoted price will ALWAYS be randomly selected from a narrow range of prices, no matter what time of the day/year/decade you do it.

    Why this is I'll never know. Some businesses just like mixing it up I guess.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Quit Yer Bitchin'

    TRUTH

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Qritiqal (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 4:52pm

    BTW, what they are REALLY doing...

    We can assume that the displayed rates are not perfectly representative of the rates that you would get if you applied for a loan.

    Therefore, I suggest that Capital One is using the varying rates as a form of market research to see how many applications they get per rate. That way they can push their rates as high as possible while still being market competitive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Dohn Joe, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    JavaScript Issue?

    Maybe it's a difference in how each of the browsers handle JavaScript and come up with a different number to display?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Griffon, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 8:57pm

    Meh

    It is just that, advertising. Nobody ever get's anything close to the low advertised rates anyway. There is always some catch that drives it up a few points.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 10:32pm

    Re: The random idea fits

    They want you to give them whatever is in your wallet and they figure the amount of money in each persons wallet is going to be some random number.

    Instead of guessing what's in everyone's wallet, why don't they just ask, "What's in your wallet?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 5:57am

    I can't believe Capital One with it's bullshit cards is still in business. I look at Capital One as dishonest and you will get screwed. Using Warriors as pitch men. You see the mentality. They are out to 'take your wallet'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Hans, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:29am

    Not different browsers...

    Using Firefox 3.6.12, refusing their cookies, and using shift-reload ("bypass cache"), I got 2.7, 2.3, 2.67, 2.7, 2.7, 2.6, ...

    It's not browsers, it's measuring "conversions" (i.e. which rate gets more "takers") based on the interest rate quoted.... That or their partitioned web front-end and/or content network is totally out of sync and giving different answers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re: The random idea fits

    I see what you did there. Yeah :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Re: The random idea fits

    Yeah, then once you get the 2% figure. Call and tell them the website quoted you 4%.

    Then, when they say, okay well based on your credit we had to add 1.2% to the base quote, simply reply, "Oh well that's nice, because the website also quoted me 2%, so let's apply the premium against that base rate, shall we?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    DB, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Capital One

    I had what I thought was a Capital One bait-and-switch on credit card terms. Paper offered one thing, Internet the other. While they thought it was fine, I paid off my account and won't use it anymore. If you have a bait-and-switch involving the Internet, document it if you want to complain (FTC has a new CTO!). Things change so fast that if you complain and later go back, you won't be able to prove what happened.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    vastrightwing, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:58am

    Ultimate rate 0%*

    Yes, apply for a zero percent loan here.

    * Not everyone will be qualified for a 0% loan, your rate could be higher based on your credit score.

    This is how they can get an almost 100% conversion rate. It would work. All they have to do is say, based on your low 900 FICO score, you only qualify for a 6% rate. Only people with FICO sores over 2000 get a 0% rate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Low low rates

    Microsoft must be stock holders

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    this

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This