Public Service Annoucement: Amazon Prices

Howdy folks. Today I’m here with just a brief bit of info that might make your life a tad better. Assuming you ever shop at Amazon, that is. Did you know that Amazon has a tendency to mess around with its prices? Not just a little, either. They don’t have to have their minions scurry around with stickers to change their prices–they can do it with a click of a button. And they do.

A lot.

I have no idea *why* they change them as much as they do, but who are we to question the ways of the mighty Amazon? And in the end, why they do it doesn’t matter. All that matters is to be aware of it and to know how to fight it.

Because if there’s one thing any good librarian knows, it’s that knowledge is power.

Enter Amazon price watchers, stage right. There are any number of these services online–the one I personally use is myPriceTrack, not because I think it’s better than any others. It just happens to be the one that I found first. (If any of you out there have services you like more than this one, please speak up. I have no loyalty to this particular one.)

This handy tool allows you to cut and paste the web address of any Amazon product into its search engine, and it spits out the relevant price data for that item, charted over time. So in action, let’s imagine you wanted to buy Adobe CS5. You go to Amazon’s page for the item and see that it’s selling for $650 (right now), marked down from $700. That seems like a pretty good deal, right? Well, when you go to myPriceTrack, you discover CS5 was on sale for $490 back on November 19th, and then again for $500 on December 17th. Maybe you ought to watch the price of it over the next while and find a better time to buy.

You can do this with anything on Amazon. Books, movies, electronics, music–you name it. It’ll also show you the lowest “Buy Used” price on Amazon. The price doesn’t fluctuate as wildly for some areas, but you really never can tell where it will and where it won’t. When I go to buy something off Amazon these days, I almost always at least make a stop by myPriceTrack first to make sure I’m not getting ripped off.

Any of you have any tips you use for online shopping?

2 Comments

  • By William, January 10, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    That is fantastic information, Bryce! I’ve watched prices on a lot of products the last few months and have been amazed at the enormous fluctuation. It’s not uncommon to see 10%+ fluctuations on a regular basis on many of these items. I’ve seen many many items go up 100%+ since Christmas. I had one product a couple months ago that I added to my cart, and before I could officially purchase it it had gone up about 40%!!! Of course Amazon claims they can change any price at any time, and even if it’s already in your cart — even if it’s only been there for a few minutes — you pay the latest price.

    One thing I’ve done to date is add any item I’m interested in to my cart so I can track the price fluctuations over time…it’s been fascinating. So to read your “ramblings” of a much more efficient and informative method is just awesome. Thank you!

  • By Bryce Moore, January 11, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    Glad you found it helpful. 🙂

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