Cookies aren’t always nice, especially shopping online

Cookies, for the purposes of this post, are bits of information that websites will leave on your computer when you visit so that they can recognise you when you come back next time (a longer definition is available here).

In early January, the Consumerist website had a very interesting article entitled “Save Money Shopping Online By Deleting Your Cookies“.

The thesis of the article was that certain websites will offer better deals to people visiting the website for the first time compared to offers they give to people who’ve been to the site before.

Therefore, before going online to go shopping you should delete your cookies so that sites don’t “recognise” you and you may get better value for money.

I have a feeling that some of our more well known Irish airline websites might utilise this type of trickery, but can’t confirm one way or the other.

Of course, it could be possible that some online sellers have taken this type of thing a step further. Every time you log onto a website your IP address is stored (basically, where you’re logging on from). Some IP addresses are just a series of numbers that don’t distinguish exactly where you are – they may say Dublin, or Galway. But others actually have your company name included in it – so, Intel or Microsoft or many of the worlds bigger companies have their name in their address. Surely it’s possible that online sellers can identify these companies and then charge more, or less, depending on where their customers are logging in from.

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One Response to Cookies aren’t always nice, especially shopping online

  1. valueireland February 15, 2009 at 22:50 #

    Comment received from reader:

    Yes, I can confirm that Delta do this, at least they did a couple of years ago. I’d check out the price of a flight, come back later and the price would have increased. If I then deleted the cookies, and tried again, lo and behold, the original price was being offered.

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