KSL INVESTIGATES

How to beat the dynamic pricing used by Amazon and many other retailers to pay less

Mar 13, 2023, 11:03 PM | Updated: 11:05 pm

RIVERDALE, Utah — With the cost of just about everything going up, Joyce Robison has become super conscious of her spending.

“Money is hard on everybody lately, with all the inflation and everything going on,” she said.

So when Amazon dropped the price of a pair of shoes by 24% just hours after she bought them, well, that irked her.

“I knew it wasn’t a big amount,” said Robison. “But I just didn’t think it was fair.”

She had just experienced dynamic pricing. That is where a retailer quickly adjusts prices based on the market’s constantly changing demand.

When Robison asked Amazon to charge her the lower price — after all, she bought the shoes just hours before – she got a solid no.

They told her prices change on a “timely basis depending on the availability, demand, stock, supply, seller, and many more factors. These factors result in prices that rise and fall regularly, and thus, we don’t offer price adjustments.”

We took her experience to smart shopping expert, Trae Bodge.

“This is something that consumers should be aware of when they are shopping, particularly online,” Bodge said, who also said tones of retailers besides Amazon use dynamic pricing.

“Retailers have the right to do this, and they make these decisions based on surge,” she explained. “So, if there’s high consumer demand, if there’s low consumer demand, high stock, low stock, they do reserve the right to do this.”

Bodge said there are still ways to bust inflation.

“There is an Amazon-specific tool called the ‘Camelizer,'” she said. “It’s a browser extension that you can install and what it does is it keeps an eye on Amazon pricing. And you can set it up so it will give you price drop alerts in case there’s something that you want.”

Another tool is a deals website like Slickdeals.

“If there’s something that you have your eye on, you can set a Deal Alert for it on Slickdeals, and they will let you know when the item goes on sale — which may be on Amazon, or it may be at another retailer,” Bodge said. “So, those two (Camelizer and Slickdeals) things will help you get the lowest price possible on that item.”

And option three is price matching.

Many retailers will drop their prices to match a competitor before you buy. However, Amazon does not, which Bodge said forces another option. Return the item, then buy it again at the lower price.

“You really don’t have recourse when you purchase on Amazon. When you notice that the price has decreased, really the only thing that you can do is return that purchase and buy it at the lower price, which doesn’t benefit Amazon at all. You’ll get that lower price, but it is very costly to do that for Amazon,” Bodge said. “You’re not being given another option from the retailer. What else are you supposed to do?”

Bodge added returns have become so expensive that more and more retailers are now charging consumers for the return shipping costs to make back some of that lost money.

We reached out to Amazon directly multiple times to get its take on this and on dynamic pricing in general. The retail giant did not respond.

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How to beat the dynamic pricing used by Amazon and many other retailers to pay less