Internet Cookies used for Dynamic Pricing

There has been suggestions  mounting that travel agencies and airline websites have been using internet cookies to control the price of airfares. This may sound innocent as many web sites use internet cookies to monitor and control prices. What if the pricing was being controlled in an “unfair” manner?  What if they were increasing the prices at the point where they felt the customer was about to commit to a purchase ?

Internet Cookies and Dynamic Pricing

This perhaps far fetched concept is what many in the industry have been suggesting is actually taking place now. This would move away from simply using cookies as a tool to assist the shopper and place them into the bracket of price discrimination and unfair trading. The companies involved would prefer to use a simpler term such as “Dynamic Pricing”. What they are doing is using history they have captured through internet cookies to predict the highest price they can charge you and still get a sale.

Interesting Cookie Article

The writer Bill McGee has been discussing this in his interesting article  ”Do travel deals change based on your browsing history?”

How to avoid Internet Cookies and price fixing

One approach to avoid this sort of unfair treatment could simply disable internet cookies on your device. The issue is that the majority of internet cookies are actually of a benefit and in some circumstances compulsory for some web sites. This approach could be better implemented with new browser tools. Many plugins are available that allow you to selectively decide which cookies to allow and which to block. Again the challenge is knowing which cookies are doing what. Many website privacy policies are hidden and even when you do find them they are not clear.

Alternatively, perhaps selectively use the private browsing options most up to date browsers offer when looking to make such purchases. These do not provide any guarantee, but will help in most circumstances.

Even if you feel this dynamic pricing is not wide spread, it is being considered and trialed by large operators.

Some examples of Internet Cookie Misuse

Orbitz was recently in trouble for changing their default display of the quoting results for users of Apple products. Their approach was that people who could afford these more expensive devices could also afford to pay higher prices. There approach was to simply reorder items promoting the higher prices. This dynamic form of pricing is a step too far.

ORBITZ: Mac users book fancier hotels than PC users

Another example was Delta Air Lines who carried out tests with two different pricing engines. They performed experiments for both frequent flyers who were logged-in and less-frequent fliers who were not logged-in. The two engines returned some very different results. The discrepancy became a large story requiring Delta’s VP to provide an explanation.

Currently many world’s biggest airlines are in the midst of seeking government approval. They want to update the current airline pricing technology into something where internet cookies can result in higher prices for some customers. This is presented as prices tailored to specific shoppers. What may be called a “New Distribution Capability”. Many are concerned our privacy is being subverted. These higher fares are seen as another step in the wrong direction.

Internet Cookies and what you need to know

Welcome to me new web site. This site aims to provide lots of information about cookies. How to delete them from your browser, enable them on your device or simply explain what a cookie is and how they are used by web sites to track your personal data.

It is my plan to develop this site over time to contain more and more information about cookies and what they are capable of while hopefully dispelling some of the myths that also surround the poor little cookie file.

Over the coming weeks I will delve into the new laws that are have been introduced into Europe and are being discussed in the US.

Hopefully this site will build into a useful tool for all with guides on how to control your cookies, how to opt out of specific advertising campaigns and in general take control of your personal data.

In my opinion, Internet Cookies re not bad, but they do need to be controlled.