Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Does what's left in your wallet depend on your browser?

Does 'What's in your wallet?' depend on your browser? That's what Alex Tabarrok, a George Mason University economist, says he suspects.

Does what's left in your wallet depend on your browser?

Alex Tabarrok, a George Mason University economist, blogged about more experimentation - including a bit of his own testing - to examine the browser price-discrimination theory I wrote about here last week.

Tabarrok reports that he and another blogger both found better rates for car loans via Chrome than when shopping online via either Firefox or Internet Explorer. He says:

Here from J-Walk Blog are interest rates for a car loan from Capital One if you use IE.

IERates

and here are the rates if you use Chrome:

Chrome

Across the board in this test, Chrome brought better prices - though, to be fair, this was essentially a single test; you'd expect all the prices to be linked.

Tabarrok, whose entry on the Marginal Revolution blog can be found here, says his own tests found "something similar" and concludes:

Price discrimination makes sense if Chrome users are better searchers, as seems likely. I suspect, however, that it is price experimentation and the Chrome<IE effect is being reported more often than the reverse. I cleared cookies and tried a couple of times and although rates varied the lowest rate was still with Chrome. I gave up after a few tries, however.

I'll let you know if I hear about other tests. I'm curious, in particular, about whether this might show up in travel pricing, another sector where people commonly compare prices online. If nothing else, it's an incentive to try out Chrome - let's hope it's not some sort of sophisticated buzz-marketing scheme!

 

Jeff Gelles Inquirer Business Columnist
About this blog

Jeff Gelles, who writes the Inquirer's weekly Consumer 14.0 and Tech Life columns, takes a broad look at the marketplace of goods, services, and ideas.

Reach Jeff at jgelles@phillynews.com.

Jeff Gelles Inquirer Business Columnist
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