Online price may depend on your ZIP code

Published On: Feb 17 2013 07:55:42 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 18 2013 06:45:00 AM EST

You know a shirt may be more expensive in Beverly Hills compared to your hometown, but did you know when you’re shopping online, stores know what address your computer is registered to and you may be charged a different price depending on where you live?

It’s quick! It’s easy! And online shopping is supposed to be cheaper …right?

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal says some stores are raising or lowering their prices depending on where you log in, your ZIP code, and even which type of computer you use. In fact, on, a stapler was offered at $15.79 for one online customer, but another online customer was offered it for more than a dollar less.

The Journal reports changes online prices based on what it believes is your proximity to its stores. ZIP codes whose center was further than 20 miles from a staples competitor saw higher prices 67 percent of the time. But ZIP codes within 20 miles of a rival saw the high price only 12 percent of the time. showed higher prices 86 percent of the time when the ZIP code actually had a store nearby, but was far from a competitors’ store. And although it doesn’t seem fair, it’s not illegal.

Another online marketing strategy to watch out for, the Wall Street Journal reports that hotel rooms found on were higher priced for Mac users because they’re inclined to spend more money than PC users.


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