Retailer websites are showing higher prices depending on where you live


Turns out that shopping online in some retailers might not be worth the convenience anymore. That’s because The Wall Street Journal has discovered that some retailers vary their pricing depending on their buyer’s zip code.

Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, because factors like shipping costs can vary depending on your location. But it turns out that retailers like Staples, Home Depot and Discover Financial Services will adjust their pricing based on the income distribution of where your IP address is located. This sort of generalizing puts consumers in the losing end for a variety of reasons, the least of which is not everyone in what is determined to be a “richer” area is rich.

This isn’t the only factor of course, as shipping costs definitely still influence the final price of your purchase. Also, not every retailer that sells online is guilty of the scheme. It’s just something we should be aware about, because a trend like this is something we all don’t wanna see catch on, that’s for sure.

[via WSJ, image via BernardBoyGenius]

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  • Paul D

    Nothing new. Bricks & mortar retail chains have been doing this for years.

    To take this further, some online US retailers have agreements with Australian retail stores to simply not sell competing products online to Australia at all.

  • cpusrvc

    @Tom: No, they won’t be asking for home size or car model … that’s already in the public databases for real estate and DMV.

  • Tom

    I believe Lowes does this too under the premise that you will want to know if the local store carries inventory of the items you seek to purchase.

    Next they’ll be asking for the square footage of your home, or the model of the car you drive.

  • Enrique

    @Mike: I agree, I hope it doesn’t take off and becomes the norm.

  • Mike

    I wish there were a major consumer backlash on this practice, to shame the retailers into stopping it. It just feels shameful.

  • kelltic

    I knew something was up when stores – yes, Staples is one of them – started asking for my zip code.

  • Shawn

    What I love to see is customized flyers for areas… such as thesource (Radio Shack here in Quebec type store)

    Asks for your postal code and for some stores you can’t even get the flyer that holds the same itens…