Secrets of Online Shopping Discrimination

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Most people think you can usually find a better deal when you shop online. But the price you see can be different than what other people see. The type of computer you use, your online search history, even your zip code have all been used by online retailers to determine what price you pay.

CBS MIAMI reports that in a study conducted by researchers at Northeastern University in Boston, nine out of 16 online retailers and travel websites tested showed different prices or difference results for the same searches.

Home Depot said sometimes it does offer different online customers different prices based on the region where they log-on from. The company said it can figure out one’s location from a computer’s IP address.

Based on their findings, Wilson said they found cases of “price discrimination” and “price steering.” Price steering is when two users receive different product results or the same products in different order for the same search. Price discrimination occurs when two users receive different prices for the same search results.




  1. Some have complained that some airlines, in particular British Airways, will raise the price for a ticket after an hour or so if you repeatedly search for a particular destination. This gives the buyer the impression prices are going up. But if you check back the next day, the price returns to the lower one.


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