Don’t trust the list prices on websites like Amazon and others

misleading list pricing
misleading list pricing

This is something that I have suspected/noticed for a very long time – the list prices present on online retail websites like Amazon, Flipkar and Snapdeal (I’m talking from the perspective of Indian websites) are often more than what you can get if you look around more. Sometimes, even when they are offering a discount, the discounted rate is more than the actual rate.

According to this LA Times link, Consumer Watchdog as reported that despite the fact that Amazon recently claimed to have removed the list pricing system, for many products, list prices still exist.

In list pricing, crossed-out prices are displayed alongside the current, “cheaper” cost, to create a psychological effect. They will tell you that previously the product was costing that much, or actually the product costs this much, but we are offering it for this much. The larger the difference between the two, the more eager you are to purchase the item, thinking that you are saving lots of money. But actually, the crossed-out price is often an inflated figure.

In number terms, suppose the crossed-out price of a mobile phone is $500 and now they are offering the mobile phone for $450 whereas actually the mobile phone can be purchased for $430

But then, how to get the right prices? How do you know that you are paying the right price or better, saving some money?

Do your own research before buying the item. A very good thing about the Internet is that from your computer, laptop or mobile phone, you can search through scores of websites to know what pricing structure they are offering. You can also visit the actual website of the vendor because often they list the actual price. If possible, you can also call them up. You can also call up a few retail stores (in case you are purchasing something expensive).

It seems courts in the US in Canada take misleading list pricing very seriously. A company called Overstock was fined $750,000 by Canada’s Competition Bureau for giving misleading listings. At least in Canada, Amazon voluntarily changed its pricing policies. Class action suits are going on in Canada as well is America against multiple online retailers for publishing misleading list prices.

Very few websites offer actual discounts, due to whatever reasons. Maybe there was a time when e-commerce had just started, to attract new customers, websites like eBay used to offer good deals, but not now. Even on eBay sometimes items are overpriced.

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About Amrit Hallan
Amrit Hallan is the founder of He writes about technology not because "he loves to write about technology", he actually believes that it makes the world a better place. On Twitter you can follow him at @amrithallan

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