HOUSTON - It's no secret that retailers are doing everything they can this holiday season to track your spending habits. They're putting targeted ads on Facebook feeds. But Local 2 even discovered some retailers offering consumers vastly different prices for the same product based on how they shop.
Learn how these new tactics can save your or cost you hundreds of dollars.
"It's really designed to do one thing and it's to extract more money from you and I," professional savings expert Josh Elledge said.
Elledge is CEO of an online savings website. He said he was not surprised to hear the results of a recent Northeastern University study that shows some companies are using your online shopping info to customize prices. The bottom line is that some people pay more, while others pay less for the exact same product.
Take travel for example. If you book with your iPhone, you get a $15 discount for tickets on Travelocity. But not if you use desktop computer.
Study co-author Christo Wilson said if you need to book a flight, do it using your mobile device.
"It appears, at least on the travel sites, many of them give discounts to people who have smartphones," Wilson said. "Whenever you connect to a website, you send information that lets them know your browser, your operating system and your platform."
Doing some digital shopping at Home Depot? Use your desktop.
Doing a search on HomeDepot.com averages $120 per item on desktops. But the same search on an iPhone or Android comes up with $230 per item. And get this -- a mobile device only shows you 24 items to choose from. That search on a desktop will show 48 items.
"They appear to have a completely different inventory of products for desktop users versus mobile users," Wilson said.
Home Depot had the largest price differences in the study, followed by Cheap Tickets , Orbitz , Priceline, Sears, JCPenny and Macy's.
There are a few tricks to finding the best price if you're shopping on your desktop: Open up different browsers -- maybe Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. Each browser could potentially give you a different price. Clear your cookies or go into private browser mode.
And don't make final purchases until you check both your smartphone and desktop for the lowest prices.
"Pricing discrimination is just something, unfortunately, we kind of have to deal with," Elledge said.
Local 2 also found slight price differences between shopping with an iPhone versus Andrioid. Buying a product from an Android phone will cost you an average of 40 cents more than if you buy the exact same product from an iPhone.
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