It looks like companies are getting sneaky with high-tech shopping apps, using them to bait you into visiting their stores or Web sites, then switching prices on you. This and other tactics have been used online for well over a decade, as this 2005 report shows. Now Target appears to be doing something similar.
In a two-month investigation, that began with a concern from a viewer, KARE 11 found Target’s app changes its prices on certain items depending on if you are inside or outside of the store.
For instance, Target’s app price for a particular Samsung 55-inch Smart TV was $499.99, but when we pulled into the parking lot of the Minnetonka store that price suddenly increased to $599.99 on the app.
To test this further, we selected 10 products on the Target app at random, ranging from toys to bottled water to vacuum cleaners. We found that when we entered the store, four of the 10 products jumped up in price on the app.
. . .
Our list of 10 items was a total of $262 cheaper in the back of the parking lot on the app with no indication that the prices had changed.
There’s more at the link.
Let’s be honest: most companies are out to separate you from as much of your money as possible, as painlessly as possible. It’s only because we aren’t vigilant, and don’t pay enough attention to what’s going on, that we continue to tolerate this.
What’s more, many of the prices charged for goods bear no relation whatsoever to the actual cost of production of those goods – another con game. To illustrate, when I did my Masters degree in management, I recall our class visited a clothing factory. A production line was churning out identical women’s dresses. At the end of the line, the last thing to be done before they were packed and shipped out was to sew a label into the neckline. The dresses – all identical, remember, using the same materials and coming off the same production line – were shunted onto five “label rows”. The first – very few dresses – got an upmarket label, destined for high-end boutiques. The second – a few more dresses – got a less upmarket label, but nevertheless one with “snob appeal”. They’d go to the “better” department stores. The next three lines – the majority of the dresses – received middle-class to lower-class labels, and were destined for mass-market clothing stores and major supermarkets, where dozens of them would be hung on racks to be pawed through by all and sundry. The prices charged for the high-end label would be twenty or more times higher than for the lowest-level label, but the dresses were identical. It was “con the consumer” from beginning to end.
The Target app referred to above is simply another version of the same principle. Charge what the market will bear, and deceive the consumer into paying the highest possible price. The concepts of fairness, equity and value for money are irrelevant, as far as most sellers today are concerned. As for openness and honesty . . . fuggetaboutit!
What’s the best counter to this naked greed? I think Charles Hugh Smith’s advice on frugality is very apposite. If we give as little of our money as possible to these companies, they’ll be forced to reconsider their tactics. As long as we tolerate their antics, they have no reason to change them.