Imagine every purchase you make from here on out is priced depending on purchases you’ve made in the past. You go into your favorite department store and the price of the items you regularly buy increases solely because of your past purchases. It sounds a bit far-fetched, but this is commonly known as the bait-and-switch and is most likely happening right under your nose.
Dynamic pricing is something that everyone has been exposed to. You wait until the last minute to book your flight during the holidays and BOOM prices peak and you end up spending your entire life savings on your ticket – okay, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea. The same goes for seeing your favorite sports team play when they’re on a losing streak versus when they are competing at the play offs. We know there will be a price variation; we accept this and recognize it as fair play.
Price discrimination, on the other hand, is not - which is when you get charged a different price than the man snoring next to you in seat 22B for the same ticket.
Online travel agencies and airlines use a common procedure called caching. Each time you log into a travel site, it has stored a copy of your researched fare information to more efficiently aid you in your future search. This sounds good, right? No more constantly performing the same search over and over again when trying to find the best deal. However, there’s a catch, and it comes in the form of cookies - and I’m not talking about your grandma’s oatmeal raisins.
What’s the catch?
Cookies are hidden in your computer to track your recent browser history to save information that is useful for later retrieval. This gives the travel sites the upper hand; they know what you’re looking for because they have tracked your activity and can now raise their prices since they know they have an interested consumer on their hands. This is not only preventing you from getting the deal that you deserve, it’s also an invasion of your personal information.
What can we do about it?
- Book direct to get flexible rates and avoid hidden fees.
- When browsing, use the option “New Incognito Window” located in the taskbar.
- Use multiple browsers.
- Clear the cookies in your web browser by consulting the “Help” function in your web browser.
Now you are prepared to outsmart them and save that cash! Good job, you deserve a cookie – a real one.