Mac users might pay more when shopping online

ATLANTA (CBS46) - You could be paying higher online prices depending on your internet history and…

Georgia (Jan 27, 2015)ATLANTA (CBS46) -


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You could be paying higher online prices depending on your internet history and what device you use to shop.

A CBS46 investigation found online retailers are manipulating prices to charge you more. If you're a loyal Apple user, the price may automatically go up.

It may not happen every time, but CBS46 found instances where a search for the same product on the same website produced not only different results, but different prices and it's perfectly legal. When you pull an item from a store shelf, the next person to grab the same thing pays the same price. That's not always the case with online retailers. 

"Some are more sophisticated than others so if you go and shop at a particular retailer and you're seeing the exact same price no matter what piece of hardware, no matter what browser you use, they're probably a little less sophisticated. They haven't quite gotten to the point where they can customize those models," said Jennifer Lewis Priestley, Ph.D., professor of applied statistics and data science at Kennesaw State University.

Research firms found Amazon and Sears customize prices for up to 20 percent of what they sell online at least once a day. Meaning, the price you see when you log on, click and buy can be created specifically for you using several factors.

"So if you're using a MacBook or a PC, or if you're using a tablet, or a phone, that actually influences the price that you see for particular items that you might be shopping for," Priestley explained. 

One factor is the cookies or information that tracks the other websites you've visited. 

"Online retailers are just using all of the data that's related to your online shopping behavior to develop a price that's very specific to your online shopping behaviors," Priestley said. 

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit