Money Talks: Online Shopping warning

With a few clicks of a mouse, you can research prices and make purchases of just about anything you can think of. But at what price?

The online price you see for hotel rooms and flights doesn't remain constant - it fluctuates, sometimes minute by minute, based on demand, what the competition is doing, and other factors.

It's called dynamic pricing, and it's been going on for years. But here's something that hasn't: online retailers are now starting to use the same kind of software to set prices on everything from toilet paper to microwave ovens.

In a study done for the Wall Street Journal, pricing for a GE microwave oven changed 9 times on Amazon dot com in a single day... fluctuating between $744 dollars and $871 dollars. Best Buy followed suit with price changes throughout the day as well.

What's a consumer to do? Use price tracking apps and sites to compare prices and send an alert when the price drops.

And even after you buy, keep an eye on that price. Did it drop? Take a screen shot, send it the merchant and ask for a price adjustment.

One other tip... since new shoppers are sometimes offered better deals to gain business, clearing your cookies before shopping could get you a lower price.

Merchants can use some pretty slinky tactics to make extra money. So be a smart consumer. Use the tools you have available to make sure you get the best deal.

Want more tips? Go to and do a search for "online shopping."

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