The Online Pricing Scam Shoppers Should Lookout For

Oct 11, 2018Reading Time: 3 min

Our online shoppers love a good deal. We often seek out low prices, quality products and keep an eye on our favorite retailers for special sales and discounts. One of the top page’s users follow is the “Today’s Deal” page on Amazon. It highlights a range of products from technology and electronics to accessories and beauty and offers them at extremely low prices. But how do we know those prices are legit.

Amazon’s “Today’s Deals” page is riddled with fake deals and made-up discounts that con users into thinking they are buying something at a steal when in reality they are most likely paying full-price for the item. This phenomenon is not exclusive to Amazon sellers but is a tool used by some sellers to get the most from a sale. During times of demand, like the holidays and Black Friday/Cyber Monday, sellers will mark-up the items only to offer it at a “high discount”, depicting it as a great deal.

For example, a seller who has a purse for $30 marks up the price to $40 then offers it on sale 25% off! Sounds great right? Well, buyers are still paying $30 for it, which is the original price in the first place. But the 25% off looks like a great deal!

Sometimes it is easier to spot these fake deals with offers on products too good to be true. Amazon’s page had a book bag with a supposed retail price of $519. This book was offered on sale for just $51.99. Over 90% off. They might as well give it away. This same bookbag was offered at Kmart for $56.46. This among other items such as Bluetooth headphones, diffusers and wax kits were also among items taken off the Today’s Deal page and the original pricing was restored.

This is called “fictitious pricing” wherein the seller simply makes up the original price, a price the item was never sold at, in order to advertise a deal or savings on it to sell the item for full price under false pretenses. Consumers see it as savings and sellers see dollar signs.

Unfortunately, private sellers on Amazon are not the only ones that try and get away with this in order to make a buck. Some larger retailers in the past have been known to jack up prices and advertise at a higher markup to show huge savings in order to get consumers to buy.

Our advice?

  • Shop at companies you can trust from retailers you know and love.
  • If it is too good to be true it is.
  • Shop using so you can add your own “deal” or “discount” to your shopping cart with a promo code or coupon without relying on false sales and savings. -ask yourself, are you willing to pay full price for that item if it weren’t offered at a discount?

Save yourself from overspending during the holidays and keep a lookout for fictitious pricing this season.