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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Friday, Feb. 8, 2013

Your browser and computer influences what you pay online



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ClarkHoward.com and The Clark Howard Show are your resource for consumer advice.

By Clark Howard


Should you pay more when you're shopping online simply because of the browser you're using? Some popular online retailers think so!

The New York Times  reports shoppers are getting widely different prices based on whether they use Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. Here are just two examples:

  • For the same Samsung TV on NewEgg.com, a Chrome user was offered a price of $997. Meanwhile, the price was $1,399 when using Firefox or Internet Explorer.
  • Another Samsung television model at Walmart.com was offered for $199 on Firefox and $168 on Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Meanwhile, Mac users could be paying a higher rate for hotel rooms on Orbitz.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Orbitz has been experimenting with a 30% premium on Mac users when they search for select hotel rooms versus PC users. That effectively works out to be around $20 to $30 more than a PC user.

When asked for explanation, Orbitz basically stated that Mac users make more money and are interested in fancier hotels. (There were no happy campers in the Apple world based on those comments!)

In my own travel buying experience, I've found that the best way to get a bargain is to click on something like you're going to purchase...and then don't buy it. When I abandon the cart, I usually get a coupon or a frantic alert about a price reduction within 3 hours.

Another technique is to use technology to fight back. Try installing a browser plug-in like Invisible Hand that automatically pops up an alert while you're shopping if a better price is available on another website.

Or here's an even simpler method: If you feel you've been pigeonholed as a premium customer, go into a private browsing session. That should help you see the bargains you think you're not being shown.

Finally, Amazon customers can typically get a better deal if they put something in their cart and then abandon it before the final purchase, as I mentioned earlier for the travel sites. That usually signals to Amazon that you're willing to walk away and triggers a lower price the next time you put it in your cart to checkout. Give it a try!


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