Do Travel Sites Charge More If You Tell Them You're Rich?
from the clever-pricing dept
One thing that really irritates savvy shoppers is when they discover that somebody else got a better deal than them. This is likely to occur on airplanes, as airline-pricing algorithms tend to be opaque and highly variable. That's given rise to new sites which try to anticipate when the airlines will offer various prices. One consequence of this so-called price discrimination is that companies are likely to pursue personal information on its shoppers so as to anticipate the highest price a given shopper is likely to pay for an item. But while customers are understandably miffed when companies harvest their personal data, is there anything wrong with less invasive forms of price discrimination? One traveler discovered that an online comparison engine listed different prices for the same hotels depending on how the search was conducted. If the searcher wanted results listed from highest to lowest (presumably an indication of their wealth and their desire to stay on top-rate hotels) the listings for a given hotel turned out higher. People may not like this, but that's not necessarily the right response. Variable pricing allows the price-insensitive to subsidize the price-sensitive shoppers that put in the effort to find a good deal. Of course it's a catch-22, by exposing these methods, companies are likely to change them.