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Life Lessons: Watch for online price gouging

Published On: Apr 11 2013 05:00:00 AM EDT

Life lessons look for online price gouging

Did you ever find that an item you wanted to buy was a different price in a different area? That might seem obvious if you're shopping in Beverly Hills compared to Allentown..but what happens when you're shopping online?

New information says some stores know what address your computer is registered to and you may be charged a different price depending on where you live.

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal says some stores are raising or lowering their prices depending on where you log in, your zip code, and even which type of computer you use.


For example, on, a stapler was offered at $15.79 for one online customer, but another online customer was offered it for more than a dollar less.

The Journal reports changes online prices based on what it believes is your proximity to its stores.

Zip codes whose center was further than 20 miles from a Staples competitor saw higher prices 67 percent of the time. But zip codes within 20 miles of a rival saw the high price only 12 percent of the time. showed higher prices 86 percent of the time when the zip code actually had a store nearby, but was far from a competitors' store.

And although it doesn't seem fair, it's not illegal.

Another online marketing strategy to watch out for, the report says that hotel rooms found on were higher priced for mac users because merchants believe they're inclined to spend more money than PC users.