Will You Get Different Prices Depending On Where You're Surfing?

from the one-price-for-New-Yorkers,-another-for-Texans dept

Various services are getting much better at figuring out what part of the world you happen to be surfing the internet from. Sometimes, this can be useful, in helping to customize a search to your particular needs. Some companies use it to try to throw up local advertising. While some are worried about the privacy aspects, a bigger question may be how far the customization will go. A few years ago, Amazon.com ran into a public relations nightmare when they revealed that they were offering different prices to different visitors. Even if that’s a more efficient way of doing business, something felt “unfair” about it to most people. Now, some expect websites to start doing something similar based on geography. That is, if you’re surfing from a higher income area, the prices you see will be higher. Again, if this does actually happen, expect there to be something of a backlash — even if it is what happens out there in the brick-and-mortar world. Local stores often charge based on the region they’re in, and not on some nationally agreed upon price. Still, if this does happen, it won’t be long before services are available to make it appear as if you’re surfing from a cheap region, and the whole point of the geographically differentiated pricing system will go away.

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Comments on “Will You Get Different Prices Depending On Where You're Surfing?”

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thecaptain says:

No Subject Given

If the prices are higher if you’re in a “high income” area, it’ll be a switch.

Having shopped in stores (all kinds but mostly groceries) in both low income and high income areas, the price discrepency is UNREAL…in high income neighborhoods, prices for groceries get as much as 30% LOWER than in low income areas.

I once asked about it and was told by a manager that it was because low income areas have a “captive” population, the percentage of shoppers without cars and low on spare time was significantly higher, which allowed them to raise prices without losing sales, whereas in high income areas the shoppers were more likely to be mobile AND have more time to shop around so the lower prices were there to keep them coming back.

thecaptain says:

Re: Re: Not the reason

You might have food stamps in your area, but in Montreal, we don’t have that (that I know of).

People who are “subsidized” (to use your term) for whatever reason (unemployment, disability, welfare) get money, not food stamps. So they DO care (for the most part) how much they pay.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Access cards


In America welfare recipients are given cards that look like credit cards to use for subsidized food. The reason they give them cards is to track and make sure they are actually buying food and so that it is less obvious to other consumers that they are in need of assistance. Giving Americans cash means they will spend it on everything else but what it was intended for sadly.

Since our government is ” picking up the tab ” for their food I can ASSURE you from observing welfare shoppers that they don’t give a damn what their grocery bills cost. I have seen them buy items that I myself can’t afford … steaks, convenience foods, brand names, etc. There is NO motivation for American welfare recipients to budget and this is why generations in this country consider welfare a way of life.

Mikester says:

Already here

We already have this service, it’s called using a proxy web site to surf. For some unknown and insane reason, the Showtime website only allows visitors from the US.
Being in Canada, if there’s ever something I hear about on it or follow a link to the site, I need to use an anonymizer site just to get to the content. All they’ve done is frustrate me, instead of doing what they’re trying to do.
Reminds me of DRM strategies.

Anyway, once people catch on to a site trying to pull this ‘price-switch’ on them, they’ll figure out how to get the best price anyway. At least the educated users will; I suppose they’re analogous to the “high income” population in the retail store example above.

Anonymous Coward (user link) says:

Re: Discriminatory Pricing

A local chain of grocery stores where I live called ” GIANT ” like to pull these underhanded sales tactics. I work in one city & live in another, both within 25 miles of each other. I get two Sunday papers, one @ my office & one @ my home. The advertisements for one city are ALWAYS significantly LOWER in the wealthy area !

The advertisements ALSO run such shitty promotional items like ” Buy one get one free ONLY in select stores.


IF other stores are willing to “price match” competitors ads, why in the hell wouldn’t they EVEN match their OWN ???

Last week, unknowingly I took the ad in from one store to another store. When I get up to the register, the girl ringing me up comes up with some absurd figure. I kindly pointed out that she missed quite a few items that were either on sale or buy one get one free. I pulled out the ad and showed her. In tiny fine print she points out that those prices are ONLY good in those stores.

I kept my cool and stated that she could REMOVE every item from the extensive list of groceries I bought that the store will not honor the advertisement price for.

Luckily, a manager overheard the conversation. The Manager felt the same way that I do. That it is unfair & dishonest to charge people a different price based on some esoteric decision of what constitutes a ” region “. THIS IS FOOD, not a luxury item ! The manager instructed the sales girl to MATCH all the sales prices and coupons I had from THEIR advertisement.
I thanked the manager for her intelligence & for treating me respectfully.

GUESS WHAT ? You keep using those ” frequent shopper cards ” and the stores are now going to SPECIFICALLY price items based on YOUR spending habits. That means if the store knows you like Triscuits & buy 2 boxes every week regardless of sales, the store is going to make sure you pay the highest prices they THINK your going to pay.


Anonymous Coward (user link) says:

Re: Take off your blinders

No, the whole thing isn’t moot.

Taken from the article on CNN:

” Still, there are skeptics.

SuperPages.com dropped the technology because it made incorrect assumptions about visitor interest, said Darrin Rayner, vice president of e-commerce sales.

Someone in Chicago, for instance, may prefer flower shops in New York to send flowers there.

The major geolocation companies claim accuracy of 80 percent or more for city-level data and 99 percent for country targeting, though the figures are misleading because they generally exclude the addresses known to cause trouble.

AOL still poses problems, as do anonymizing services designed specifically to hide a user’s true identity and location. Dial-up users also can call another state or country to connect.

Problematic addresses are often flagged, so Web sites can assess how much credence to give.

RealNetworks, for instance, often rejects all anonymizer traffic and may ask AOL subscribers to provide additional verification. Google won’t deliver targeted ads at all when location is in doubt. “


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