Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Amazon is slowly but surely eliminating list prices. Although not all list prices will disappear, Amazon will work toward displaying list prices for items that are truly on sale. Fraudulent list pricing has been a key issue for major retailers so what made them resort to this strategy? According to Bonnie Patten, executive director of TruthInAdvertising.org,
“We’ve been conditioned to buy only when things are on sale, as a result, what many retailers have done is make sure everything is always on sale. Which means nothing is ever on sale.”
Chances are, if you’re an online shopper, you’ve made your purchasing decision based on the original price and how great of a discount is being offered. Over time, that kind of methodology has been ingrained in us long enough that we always run a price comparison between the list price and deal price before committing to a purchase. This happens both in-stores and online. So while retailers and online merchants have picked up on that mentality, they’ve also taken advantage of it. More and more retailers are using and making up list prices for the sake of having that attractive price comparison to persuade shoppers to buy. When everything has a list price and deal price, then is everything on sale? Come on now.
Many major retailers from the likes of Macy’s to Ralph Lauren are currently dealing with lawsuits due to cases of fraudulent list prices. On the other hand, retailers like JCPenney jumped out of the list pricing game to avoid a lawsuit and instead resort to clever marketing slogans like “Everyday low prices”, something Walmart also uses.
While Amazon has reaped the benefits from a stellar list pricing strategy, they’re also wary of toeing the line between an actual deal and a borderline fake deal. To remedy this issue, they’ve recently began scaling back on list prices. That means, most products sold at full retail price will no longer have a list price on the product page. Instead, Amazon will only display the actual price. Prices that are actually marked down will contain a list price and sale price.
New York Times has also kept a close eye on 47 random discounted items on Amazon and of those, 39 no longer has a list price (though the “deal” price is still the same). When asked for a commentary, Amazon has not officially stated why they have started changing their list pricing strategy.
Need a deal on Amazon? Try looking for Amazon coupons, promotions and discounts to help you get started. We recommend running a quick Google shopping results comparison to determine if the product is offered a real discounted price.
In our past Amazon deals articles which mentions how to get deal prices on Amazon and perks of Prime membership, we always suggest that shoppers use third party price tracking tools like camelcamelcamel or the tracktor. Both tools will help you track down lowest prices offered across Amazon (along with recently discounted deals that are actual deals), display price history and you also have the option to set a price drop alert. Here’s an example of price history and when this Fossil watch was priced at its lowest on Amazon:
Source: Amazon & Camelcamelcamel
Notice that below the price history data, you can also create a price watch/price drop alert simply by entering your desired price range for the product. You can create price drop alerts for products sold by Amazon only or third party seller (in new or used condition).
How do you feel about the changes?