Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Using the Internet to Screw Amazon

A friend told me about this great idea.  I wonder if it really works?

I mentioned before that I buy fewer and fewer things from Amazon lately.  If I go online and look for a product (usually searching by name and model number so as to compare apples-to-apples) I find that Amazon rarely has the best prices. Sometimes eBay beats them (but not too often, lately) but other times, I am finding specialty sites or manufacturer's sites have the best prices.

So for example, I need a furnace filter or some bug spray.  The best price turns out to be a filter distributor or a bug spray distributor (for drain fly liquid).  I wanted to buy a power tool or vacuum cleaner - the manufacturer site had the best price! Sometimes even brick-and-mortar wins out.  I was looking to buy a case of flying insect spray (Cutter) and of all places, Home Depot had the cheapest price at $6.31 a can, versus nearly $10 on Amazon.

But it is tedious to open up all these windows and keep searching on Google (which wants to steer you, again and again, to Amazon or a promoted advertiser).  You often need to go to the second or third page of Google to find the best bargains.

Anyway, a friend mentioned that when he wants to buy something, he searches for it on Amazon, finds the product he wants and then puts it in his cart and then logs out.  Then the waiting starts.  Within a few days or even hours, he starts to get ads and promotions for the same product at a better price.

Yes, all those tracking cookies have a useful function.  The Internet now knows you want something and they sell that information to online retailers.  They might even know the price that Amazon offered you.  So they know they have to undercut that price to get your business.

I don't know if it really works, but if it did, I like the concept - using those tracking cookies and other forms of online surveillance to turn the tables on Amazon and other online retailers.

It would be a neat trick!

UPDATE:  A reader writes:

This trick is definitely worth a try if you don't need the item(s) quickly. I sell on Etsy and 1-2 years ago they started offering sellers the option to give cart coupons to customers (or whatever they called them) where they would send an email with 5-10% off on your items if they put your item in their cart and they didn't complete the order

They would go out within 1-3 days if I remember, depending on your preferences

After that I noticed a big spike in customers doing it, fishing for hidden coupons essentially. I've used it with some success since then but most of what comes are just email reminders that  "You left something behind!"