Edit: Before more naive commenters reply saying they don’t believe me and have complete faith in Amazon, check out this CNN link with a story by a U. of Washington Prof. of Law about this exact double pricing problem, with an ADMISSION from Amazon that they engage in these practices.
So this morning I visited Amazon.com to check out the price of a watch I’ve been considering buying. I quickly found it, but was not ready yet to pay quite as much as Amazon quoted. To the internets I went! When I ran a price check on Google’ s shopping search, and rankest the results from lowest->highest price, Amazon came up first. But wait a second, that was not the same price I had just been quoted on the Amazon website…. Compare:
So of course, I clicked the results. But what did I get on the actual Amazon page? The same old higher price. Then, suddenly, I remembered reading an article, many years ago, about Amazon offering two different prices at the same moment to two different customers, for no apparent reason. While I had assumed that scandal had long since made Amazon change this strange practice, I suddenly became a little suspicious.
So I opened Internet Explorer, in which I was not logged into Amazon.com as an Amazon Prime member, unlike in Google’s Chrome browser. And I searched again. You won’t believe what I found. Here are the unaltered results of two pages loaded within seconds of each other, on the same computer, from the same vendor on Amazon. On the left side I am logged in as a Prime member. (Note: “Prime means you pay a significant yearly fee ($79) to get free 2nd day shipping all year) On the right side I am not logged into Amazon at all. See for yourself!
And when I did a little Googling, I discovered that this is in fact a common practice. So while Prime customers pay a significant yearly fee to get free or discounted shipping, apparently Amazon.com secretly changes prices of items for Prime customers on a regular basis. And it gets worse. Since other bloggers encounter numerous replies that claim that they forgot to calculate in shipping/vendor differences and such, I’m including such a calculation right away to illustrate my point:
My $6 higher Prime price still gets me 2-day shipping, unlike the cheaper listing. However, when I checked the cost of 2-day shipping for the non-Prime item, I discovered that it was only $3.69 extra! So not only am I throwing away an annual $79 fee to be a Prime member, I am even paying several dollars MORE for the “item + 2-day shipping” than a non-member is.
Conclusion: As an Amazon Prime member, you are actually paying an annual fee to be allowed to pay MORE for “item + 2-day shipping” than any non-member would be paying! This is a serious pricing/advertising scam. I intend to file a complaint for a complete refund of my Amazon Prime membership for the three years I’ve had it, and I suggest that you do the same.
PS: Check out these pages to see that this price scam is not an isolated incident. Or check for yourself if you’re a Prime member!