"One price to all" has been the default since 1840, but online retail is sneakily killing it off

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/25/one-price-to-all.html


The story mentions the amazon price tracker camelcamelcamel - I use it for every purchase, even when I am buying somewhere else, to double-check that the current price isn’t jacked up over the norm. A lot of the time the knowledge that the current price is just “average” has actually stopped me from buying anyway. Especially if the price history has a lot of ups and downs, its easy to think “I’ll just wait a few days for a better price” and then eventually decide that I didn’t really need that item after all.


and started shoplifting


“I do not shop,” Patten said.

In what sense?, I asked, confused.

“I just gave up,” she said. “I just stopped shopping.

This is pretty much my MO. I still have some clothes from high school. Not a lot at this point, but i don’t shop for basic necessities often and i do so begrudgingly because i always feel like i’m getting ripped off (why the hell is underwear so expensive?).

Depending on what i’m buying i like to look at various places, compare brands and prices. Though most of the time i get frustrated and don’t buy it for a few months.


I must really confuse Amazon, because if I’m shopping for, say, a skirt it will either show me $9.99 items from China or $200 designer ones. I’m sure skirts exist somewhere in the middle of that price range, but Amazon doesn’t show them to me unless I specifically limit the price. And I’ve never bought a $200 skirt in my life, so I’m not sure how they decided I’d like those.


Only suckers pay full price.

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Guided a relative to buy a memory card a couple of weeks ago from a major office supply chain and provided the pricing I found on the store’s website (which determined which product and included how much that particular store had in stock). He was charged double, even after telling them to check online, so I had to go in with a printout. They said the store’s online prices are different from in store, but they honor any online prices (including Amazon) if the evidence is provided. I’m not sure how better to say “don’t shop here” than to fail to even find the online price when someone tells you what it was.

I have not used [quote=“JamesBean, post:2, topic:99773”]

but have installed Honey which works well on Amazon.


Maybe the fancy-schmancy skirts have pockets, and they heard you like pockets? :wink:


I like the end of the article. Probably the sensible decision is indeed to stop shopping. We don’t really need all that stuff anyway.


I get the same problem.

I tried buying the cheap clothes once. They didn’t even last a week.

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I haven’t bought the dirt cheap clothes from China on Amazon, but i have a friend that regularly does so for vacation clothes and swimwear. She buys loads and loads of it and then gets rid of most of it afterward. Can’t say that’s something i’d ever do.

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Shop at Wal-Mart, my friend.

“Always low prices. Always.”

Last time i bought cheap clothes there they didn’t last past the first wash

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So people can feed themselves?


What kind of “makers” are you guys? You’re complaining about a complex and opaque pricing regime? Why aren’t you hacking it? The trick is to make the algorithm think you’re just barely able to afford the goods due to poverty.


I love camelcamelcamel’s alert feature. You can have it email you if the price for a particular item goes below a price point that you specify.

I set my email client so that I get an alert when I receive email from them. That way, I can quickly react and snag the low price before it changes.

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Perhaps visit the websites of payday loan companies and hope you get some super-cookies from them?

“Since the earliest days of ecommerce, analysts have predicted that retailers would use their estimations of their customers’ willingness to pay to invisibly, instantaneously reprice their goods, offering different prices to each customer.”

I take it these are economists who have lived in a closet or are confined to academia as is often the case with these sort of pronouncements, produced by people who appear to never step outside a cloistered monastery to look at how the world actually runs on a daily basis and has for millennia?

That’s how 90% of the world has done business since commerce began and still goes on in mercados, souks and bazaars in most of the world on a daily basis. Paying the initial asking price will get you laughed at (after they take your money) in much of the world…

There’s even a handy term for it: Haggling. It’s a fine art for many people and a source of social interaction and indeed a bit of fun.

Fixed pricing for one and all is a very modern invention and is mostly confined to the more developed parts of the world once stores started getting big enough to make transactions impersonal and had simple tech for marking prices on items and shelves.

I believe the old A&P markets started fixed pricing sometime in the 1800’s (along with self-service and shopping carts, so stuff had to be priced on the shelf) and that it was a considerable novelty.


I check the reviews carefully and I don’t buy anything that hasn’t got photos of real people wearing the item. I think I’ve only had to return one dress that apparently looks great on everyone BUT me.

And why the hell is it so hard to find plain cotton? I don’t want this microfiber bullshit.

I literally just had to order 4 pairs of cotton panties separately because apparently they’re not available as a package. And, I bought them all at the same time and Amazon shipped them in two shipments. I got an envelope with one pair of underwear in it.


I buy a lot of stuff secondhand, jeans and kitchenware and the like; if I have a home improvement project in the works, I try to fit in a run to ReStore, the Habitat for Humanity clearinghouse for construction supplies. Grocery shopping I build around which of the 3 local stores has the best prices that week on things I need, and I’ll try to go only once. When I go searching online for things I can’t get locally or expect to find cheaper elsewhere, however, I’m fairly sure that my information is being traded among all the vendors of that commodity. My recent attempts to buy airline tickets and accommodations for a vacation this summer mostly confirmed that; even anonymizers were of limited use.