Wow - "the trick is to find the lowest price and then quickly place one's order before that price goes up."
That's one of the primary scam tactics: "If you buy in the next 30 minutes..." or, the used car sales: "I won't be able to give you this low of a discount tomorrow..."
I would hope that this gets a lot of backlash and never becomes standard practice. In some senses, though, it sounds like a bad deal for the seller. If you can get the product in ten other places, raising the price because you've been looking around for it would more likely drive business away.
I've hear rumor that some domain registrars will take URLs that you search for but don't buy and pull them off the market for a few days. During that time, the registrar would allow you to come back and buy it, but now at higher "someone else owns it" price. That's a similarly bad idea.
Reminds me of a visit I made to Zimbabwe a few years ago in the days of hyperinflation. I needed a replacement fluorescent tube and priced one at a local electrical dealer. The price seemed a bit high so I later got a couple more prices in town. The second price was the best, so I returned there the next day, only to find the guy had put the price up and wouldn't budge. I ended up getting the tubes from the first guy (who hadn't yet increased his prices}. You had to act quickly in those days. Fortunately Zim now uses the US$ and prices are pretty stable.
I have a friend who lived through hyper inflation in Argentina. They had a "joke" that went- Is it better to take a bus or a taxi?- A taxi because you pay at the end of the ride (when the money was worth less).
It's possible to avoid this by disabling cookies in your browser, using private browsing or running a different OS+browser in a VM such as VirtualBox. Your IP address will be consistent, but their cookie tracking will be thwarted.
I think that we all experience this effect when we buy airplane tickets online. By the time that you check (with your spouse or colleagues) that the schedule and price will work, the price has jumped. It seems to me this happens in minutes during a single browser session.
It is anecdotal evidence to be sure, but when I was researching gifts on Amazon just prior to the holidays, many of the items I was interested were listed at prices significantly higher than what people reported paying just a few weeks prior. So do everyone a favor, when you buy from Amazon, put the purchase price when you leave feedback on the product, in that way future buyers can see what kinds of games these folks play. When people automatically assume they are getting the best price on-line, they might be shocked to find the exact item at their high-end local department store for less than Amazon. As always, buyer beware. Don't get me wrong, I love buying from Amazon, but don't do it blind.
I must admit that when I think of all the money I spend on Amazon, I would sot of hoped they (their system) would give me a good deal rather than saying "Well, he spends a lot so let's charge him more!"
I love Amazon, but have gotten bit with "Dynamic Pricing" many times. I just walk away. If more people do this, it will probably result in less sales revenue instead of more. And eventually the powers that set up the pricing rules will get the message.
The very worst cases of dynamic pricing were covered in a design publication a few years back, talking about how wonderful the smart vending machines would be, since they could boost the price of a cold drink as the day got hotter. So that when the ambient was much warmer the pop cost a lot more. I would suspect that a machine like that might sometimes suffer from a tube of SuperGlue in the coin slot. Some folks just don't seem to have much of a sense of humor.
I remember that years ago, one Amazon started to dabble with dynamic pricing this way, a common advice on the forums was to delete your Amazon cookie to get low price they are trying to hook new customers.
On a few occasions, with other vendors, I've also seen the opposite, where the price was starting out higher, to catch the impulse buyers. Then, if you were thinking about it and going back to check the item out again, they would drop the price a bit to give you some additional incentive to make your mind up.
There are many different pricing tricks employed these days. A lot of people use pricing search engines and just spring for the lowest price. I've noticed with some vendors, that if you follow the link from the price engine, it gives you a price but if you visit the vendor's website directly, you see a higher price.
Another example. For some items, kogan.com.au has a pricing clock, which starts out low (often meaning preordering an item) which then keeps counting up and the price may be $370.04 (and slowly increasing) with a note "Be quick or pay $389.00". At least this is pretty transparent, no under the table tricks.
Of course, dynamic pricing is an age old phenomenon and it can be based on many things. Frequent travellers would be very familiar with situations where certain items or services would have one price for the locals and a higher one for the tourists. In many poor countries, just the fact that you are able to travel, automatically marks you out as a rich person.
I think dynamic pricing started the very first time somebody tried to sell something!
You need to get off your arse, Max (or if you're always just sitting there doing internet transactions and postings, maybe it's max-arse), and head down to Goodwill for stuff like what you're trying to acquire.
It recycles something that's already consumed resources, and it also puts a random variable into your preconceived notion of what you're building. You also need to get yourself an IP address spoofer and throw a wrench into the MBAs' evil plans of world domination by emptying your wallet.
Along similar lines, I've noticed that Delta's website gives different results depending on which browser you use. For various reasons I always have a Chrome and Firefox window open and use them interchangeably. This last summer I was searching for tickets to Europe and happened upon different flight availability and pricing results for the exact same searching steps. I repeated this many times and also checked on IE which had yet another set of results.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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