What appears to be the same chair sells for different price points on same website
TORONTO -- Online shopping has seen massive growth over the past decade, but it really surged over the past year due to the pandemic.
Now it's easier than ever to compare prices online, but did you know the price you see could be different based on your browsing history and other factors?
A CTV News Toronto viewer searching on the Wayfair website said they found a chair for $900. Later, when he checked again, he found what appears to be the same chair for $730. He then found it again for $680 and again for $250.
CTV News Toronto reached out to the website to ask about the price discrepancy.
According to a spokesperson for Wayfair, “Though these chairs look similar, they are sold by different suppliers.”
“We realize this may cause confusion for customers, so we work to avoid similar products at different price points on site. In this case, we have taken these skus down for further review and to ensure they're accurately priced.”
University of Toronto Rotman School of Management economics professor Heski Bar-Isaac said price discrimination already exists when booking hotel rooms and airline tickets and studies have shown a price can also be higher or lower depending on the device you’re using to search a website.
As sellers gather more information about the kinds of items you shop for online he said it could become more common for websites to offer different prices to different customers.
“We are seeing more and more of this and we should expect to see more and more of this. This also ties in to how our data is being used," Bar-Isaac said.
Companies collect data from customers and can know a lot about you from your browsing history and past purchases. Prices could also be different depending on what times it is, the day of the week and your postal code.
Prices could also fluctuate depending on whether you're using a computer or a smartphone.
“Now in the online world there is this capacity to gather so much information about us and about what we want, so firms that have the ability to respond to that are choosing to do so," said Bar-Isaac.
You can use a private browser to see if the price of an item will be higher or lower. If you're on a computer, you can try searching for the same item on your phone to see if there is a price difference.
Consumers are advised to shop around to make sure they're getting the best deal possible. As for the chair sold through Wayfair, it's back on their website currently listed for $239.99.