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The New York Times has a good story about "the bizarre world of Internet 'discounts,' which let retailers and brands assert that you are getting a stupendous deal because someone somewhere else — exactly where is never explained — is being charged much more."

Nobody would ever buy a cat litter pan for $2,159, or a windshield wiper blade for $1,504 ... but those are the list prices advertised for these items on Amazon, which, of course, discounts them significantly (to $28 and $15). But list prices often are illusory, and the way in which they often are bandied around on the unregulated internet often is confusing and sometimes even fraudulent.

So the question, the Times writes, is this: "When does e-commerce deliver on low prices, and when is it merely coasting on its reputation?"

This is a significant issue, it says, "as Internet retail shifts from being mostly about price to being largely about convenience. That will make it much harder for customers to judge independently if they are getting a deal or merely being encouraged to think so."

Interesting piece...and you can read it in its entirety here.
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