Sunday, May 6, 2012

So You Think the Privacy Policy Protects You Online?

I couldn’t figure out why the price of a product I was considering buying from an online vendor changed from $64.99 to $99.00 when I clicked on the “Buy” icon on the website.  What happened was the website, which was not Amazon, presented a review of the product I was interested in and showed a “special” price in the upper left corner of the page along with the “Buy” icon.  When I clicked on “Buy” I was ushered to and the listed price was $100.00 with a $1.00 discount.  I went back to the original site and tried to buy by selecting a different shopping icon on the page.  It still went to with the same inflated price.  This had nothing to do with the three options offered by Amazon:  “New, “Used,” or “Refurbished.”

In today’s Oregonian I found out why this was happening.  A reader had contacted “The Desk” with a complaint about the same issue.  The editor explained that it is now a common practice in online shopping to see a “sliding” price on a product from the time you first view it until you actually “check out.”  The price change is from the information that is gathered online about YOU due to other online activity you have participated in.  Every time you give information to an online site it is added to the body of information about you.  This demographic of YOUR VIEWING HABITS provided the basis for focused advertising and pricing.  

Have you noticed that after you searched for a product or bought one on line that suddenly on your Facebook page the advertisements also are geared to that product or other related products?  I have.  When I was searching for dentists I suddenly saw advertising on my Facebook page about dentists in my area.

There is no such thing as being anonymous on line.  I am very careful about privacy issues and public information, but the truth is that those “policies” are so lengthy and so complex that hardly anyone actually reads them.  Taking the time to review some I discovered that you are actually giving away your ownership of your own information when you choose to accept a privacy statement.

There is probably nothing we can do about this in this “information-centered” society now, but I felt it was worth making a statement about it, in case you were not aware.

No comments: