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…

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Companies: capital one

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Comments on “Does Capital One Offer Different Loan Rates Based On Your Browser Software?”

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Jason says:

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?”

Fred says:

Obviously an A/B Test in the wild.

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

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.

Eugene (profile) says:

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.

Dan says:

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”. 😀

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

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.

mosaic user says:

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.

Qritiqal (profile) says:

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.

Hans says:

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.

DB (profile) says:

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.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

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.

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