Defining Consumer Manipulation

Posted by Scott on Jan 5th, 2007

I’ve had a couple of lively debates about my last Amazon post with some colleagues. To explain my own views more clearly, I’ve used a hypothetical example that if Amazon were to put an obvious, large, blinking notice in your shopping cart when the price of your item had changed, I’d not have much of a problem with their practice. The crux of the issue is that Amazon is using one price to lure you into putting the item in your shopping cart, and then another when you pull out your credit card to pay for it, and is trying to do so in a way that you won’t notice. That’s why the brick-and-mortar analogy is so apt.

A second issue is one of time: a day is a reasonable time to leave an item in your shopping cart and expect its price to remain constant. I’m not arguing that people should be able to leave items in their carts for weeks or months and pay the same price – that’s just gaming the system the other way.

If Amazon made this process more obvious, they’d obviously stand to lose a lot of customers. I believe that’s a strong sign that something is wrong with this practice, and Amazon should know better.

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Blog Badges

[FSF Associate Member]