First time experienced online adaptive pricing

Cookies

I was trying to buy Eurostar tickets from London to Lille and looked at the prices on the website. Found some interesting prices (€155 in total) for the days I wanted to book, so I selected them, wanted to pay, but for some reason my registration could not be finalized in the system. So I figured, I’ll first make an account on the website, and then, once I’m logged in, buy the tickets to skip the registration part that you have to do if you visit as a ‘guest’.

Selected same trip again, but to my astonishment all the prices were about 30% higher. That’s when I realized that because I registered myself, and was looking up different trips during the last half hour, the system knows I’m interested in booking a trip and that I might be willing to pay more in case prices would increase. And as they display on their homepage (see pictures above) the website uses cookies. So I have a very strong feeling that there is an adaptive pricing system in play based on the interest you show for a certain trip.

So I put this to the test, opened the same website in Internet Explorer (normally use Chrome) and indeed, the prices were ‘back to normal’. Went back to Chrome, checked again (were I was logged in and they use cookies) and prices were 30% higher.

Booked them with Internet Explorer in the end, did not allow the website to use cookies and did not log in to their system and finally got them for the regular price.

This was the first time this ever happened to me (or at least the first time I noticed) and I must say I felt pretty scammed.

Lesson of the day: when prices on the internet for some reason seem to have increased (especially the ones in which you’re ‘interested’) in a very short period: try to erase your cookies or use a different browser and double check if they prices there are the same.

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