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Amazon’s Price Check App: “Kind of Evil”

Amazon’s Price Check App: “Kind of Evil”

It seems that everybody is up in arms about Amazon these days: the company’s recent fight against having to pay sales tax and the release of a Price Check app are two indicators that Amazon thinks they are better than any brick-and-mortar retailer… and that they are willing to do anything to gain the upper hand during this holiday shopping season.

Blair Elliott, owner of a small record store, called Amazon “kind of evil” upon hearing of the new app and the one-day promotion, which happened this past Saturday, where Amazon shoppers could collect a $5 discount on up to three eligible items if they participated in what basically amounted to a spy mission, using smart phones to collect pricing information in physical stores and giving the info to Amazon. This undercover detective work will allow the company to make sure that they are never undersold — and reduces physical stores to little more than showrooms for Amazon’s products.

While the outrage applies to nearly all retailers, it is booksellers, already struggling against e-readers, who most keenly feel the effects of the questionable practice. Stories of people coming into Barnes & Noble– or worse, independent bookstores– and taking pictures of ISBN numbers and price tags. They would then buy the book online at Amazon, often while they still stood in the bookstore.

As a result of the heavy-handed price app, many booksellers and book lovers called for a counterattack called Occupy Amazon, which encouraged consumers to shop locally instead of online. But are shoppers willing to pay slightly higher prices to support local merchants?

I understand the impulse to find the cheapest possible price, and Amazon is an attractive option. But I feel too strongly about bookstores and books in general to succumb to their warehouse philosophy. I use Amazon as a research tool to find out more about the books that I might want to read. I will buy the ones that I find especially intriguing at a real bookstore, and the rest I will check out from the public library– another inexpensive option that many people seem to have forgotten about, but one that I still feel comfortable supporting.

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Photo credit: PrimeImageMedia.com

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42 comments

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8:11AM PST on Jan 26, 2012

I'll do my best to support, I tend to only use amazon for school books.

12:16AM PST on Dec 17, 2011

Welcome to the free market! For convenience and low prices I'll shop Amazon any day. You don't have to leave your house to get the book you want and half the time you pay less. On the other hand I love to browse 2nd hand book stores for the pure joy of browsing and finding obscure titles. Although for a title you already have in mind, Amazon is the quickest and often carries things many bookstores don't = i.e. vast selection. Don't forget also how many independent sellers make money on Amazon - independent sellers are the vast majority, and ANY store is welcome to sell on Amazon (of course, they'll take a fee). But, that Amazon offers common people and stores alike a selling place to begin with is a real boon to our weak economy right now. Like E-Bay their selling scheme is genius. Win for the sellers, win for Amazon, win for the buyers.. Brick and mortar stores can always list their products on Amazon, as Amazon itself seldom offers the lowest price on their site (depending on the items - books are ridiculously cheap, but then it's usually independent sellers that offer these prices and not Amazon itself).

1:16PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

No i wont boycott them but whether or not they have the lowest price remains to be seen.

4:12PM PST on Dec 15, 2011

noted

2:19PM PST on Dec 15, 2011

I like amazon.ca, if you don't like the site, don't shop there, easy as that, whining about every little thing isn't going to help

12:17AM PST on Dec 15, 2011

Thanks for the article.

9:30PM PST on Dec 14, 2011

You know, living in Cost Rica has forced me to use the Kindle for electronic books-- buying a physical book is a real treat, but carrying it on luggage is also a problem.

And I also miss Borders, not to mention the greatest bookstore I've been to in Knoxville: Printer's Mark. Gone, but not forgotten.

8:53PM PST on Dec 14, 2011

I used to go to half-price books as they were inexpensive. Then they became expensive & gave me squat for books I sold to them. Now I use my local library which is free and wish I'd done that from the beginning. I love the library!

7:21PM PST on Dec 14, 2011

I bought a tv online from bestbuy.com, and they haven't honored their highly touted price match guarantee for over a month (so far), so maybe I should have checked the price on Amazon first!

4:46PM PST on Dec 14, 2011

I work in a specialty marine electronics store and have people come in to pick the knowledgeable sales staff's brains and then whip out their phones to check our prices against online sellers. We are always more expensive because we provide excellent customer service, professional quality installations, and free training on the equipment. When this happens, we have just wasted an hour of time that could have been spent working with customers who appreciate quality instead.

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