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June 18th, 2009

Amazon’s Variable Pricing

There’s no doubt that I’ll love Amazon forever. But last week I started noticing something interesting on Amazon’s site: variable pricing. It’s nothing new to be sure but I found an easy environment in which to study this pricing: my shopping cart.

I placed a number of items in my cart, mostly because they were items which needed to be in the cart before I could see pricing. And then I left them there. The day after I added those items to my cart I returned to that page and received notifications that pricing had changed on everything in my cart. Not by a lot – less than a dollar in every case – but they had changed.

Intrigued, I went back to Amazon the following day to see that the prices had changed again. A couple items went up, a couple went down, but again all by less than a dollar. This little game continued until today; the prices have finally stabilized.

I realize this is intentional, but I can’t help but wonder if Amazon is doing this solely for the items in my cart. Are they trying to determine which price point will make me complete the purchase? Or is it just a sitewide adjustment to match other online retailers?

Oh, and Amazon? If you dropped the prices by $50 or so… then we could talk.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

Maria June 19, 2009, 6:15 pm

I really hate how often they change their prices. It wasn’t too bad when they offered their 30-day price protection, but now that they don’t, you could buy something and have it drop $30 before it’s even shipped, and they won’t refund the difference. It makes shopping on Amazon a bit frustrating.

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