Amazonian tricks?

According to John Sutherland,

The American economist R Preston McAfee, for example, suggests that hip book buyers should “try logging into Amazon with your own identity and asking for a price on something. Then clear your cookies (so Amazon cannot access your personal information and purchasing history) and search again anonymously for the same item. Sometimes you will be quoted a different price, because when Amazon looks at your past spending pattern, and sees that you have not always gone for the lowest price, they will treat you as a poor searcher – a more inelastic customer – and make you a less attractive price offer.”

Hmmm…. Wonder if this is true or just another urban legend. At least it’s an empirical question. Must have a go…

The prolific Professor Sutherland, incidentally, resembles the Chicago meat-processing industry — which, famously, “used every part of the hog except the grunt” — in that he allows nothing to go to waste and extracts maximum value from every snippet he finds. Thus, the McAfee quotation is used again in Sutherland’s entertaining ‘Diary’ piece in the current issue of the London Review of Books.