• Fortune

Amazon Stops Telling You the Kinds of Deals You're Getting

Amazon is phasing out displaying manufacturer list prices for products sold on its website.

The e-commerce giant has started to remove manufacturer prices from its product listings and is instead only showing its own pricing for certain items, The New York Times reported on Sunday and Fortune subsequently confirmed.

While the Times’ sources say the practice started in May, it’s unclear why Amazon has so far only made the move on some items and not others. Manufacturer prices are typically higher than what Amazon sells items for.

Critics of manufacturer prices say they are often used to increase sales by making shoppers think they’re getting discounts when, in fact, they are not. In some cases, manufacturers assign their products high list prices that all retailers undercut with lower prices, calling into question just how much of a deal shoppers are getting.

Furthermore, over time, suggested retail prices can change, making it difficult for retailers to adjust what they show on their websites. List prices, in other words, an arbitrary figure that means little to those shopping online, where discounts are standard.

In the past, Amazon would display both prices to imply that customers were getting discounts through its service. It helped Amazon emphasize its discount pricing and separate itself from the pack of brick-and-mortar retailers that had higher overhead and needed to sell their products at higher prices.

But now, the Times‘ sources say, Amazon really has no need nor desire to play that game.

However, there may be even more to the reason behind the change. As the Times notes, there have recently been a number of lawsuits against retailers including Macy’s,Ralph Lauren that accuse the companies of offering product deals that aren’t really deals at all. Some retailers like Kohl’s and J.C. Penney have settled such cases for $6 million and $50 million, respectively, the Times reported.

Still, Amazon is taking a risk by changing its policies. Some customers may no longer feel they’re getting as much of a deal and, therefore, shop less on the site.


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