Shopping Sites Use Your Cookies to Vary Prices

Cookies track location, habits to enable 'dynamic pricing'
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2010 11:15 AM CST   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – One of the attractions of online shopping is that items have one price in the digital world. Or we think they do. In fact, stores on the Internet use those cute tracking cookies that remember your password to remember a lot more about you, including your physical location and shopping habits, and then use the information to create “dynamic pricing.” If the algorithm thinks you can pay more for books, shoes, airline tickets, then, voila! You do.

"I don’t think the average consumer has any clue to the extent to which they are subject to price discrimination,” a marketing professor tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It’s all perfectly legal—just read the fine print—but a Pew study discovered that 64% of adults don’t know different people can be charged different prices based on the collected information. “They remember us,” a consumer advocate says of cookies. “We cannot hide.”

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