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

Your browser and computer influences what you pay online


  photo 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, 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 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!)

The best way for you to stay one step ahead of online retailers who are manipulating price is to use technology to fight back.

If you want an easy way to see if a quoted price is a deal or not, use a browser bookmarklet such as Hukkster. Another alternative would be to install 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.

Finally, Amazon customers can typically get a better deal if they put something in their cart and then abandon it before the final purchase. That usually signals to Amazon that you're willling 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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