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Amazon pricing changes could make it harder to find deals

Amazon is known for offering deals -- it is one way the online retailer has drawn more than $100 billion in revenue each year.

But it seems Amazon is looking for a way out of the deal game. According to a recent New York Times report , the retailer has been eliminating list prices from some product descriptions opting to instead list just one price.

In the past, the company offered a price that was compared to the list price or manufacturer suggested retail price of any given item. Shoppers could see then see the percentage discount they were receiving by purchasing the item from Amazon. Of course, many times, the MSRP itself was a meaningless number -- a price that no one, not even the item's manufacturer, ever actually charged.

Currently on Amazon, as much as 70 percent of products are unaccompanied by list prices now — compared with about 29 percent in early May, said Michael Kovarik, who runs a comparison-pricing startup called Rout

“They still need to showcase deals, but the question is, How?” said Kovarik in the Times story.

Years ago, the Amazon selling strategy was to lose money on a sale and make it up in volume, but Larry Compeau, a Clarkson University professor of consumer studies told the Times, those days are over. “Amazon doesn’t have to seduce customers with a deal because they’re going to buy anyway,” he said.

Related : Amazon 'Prime Day' sales gimmick is back this July

Consumers have been conditioned to look for a sale, so not offering that information could be a concern. Naturally, Amazon is taking a slow and cautious approach to the transition. Company representatives did not respond to the Times' requests for comment.

Several other major retailers are facing lawsuits for deceptive advertising of bargains that are not really bargains. In recent months, according to truthinadvertising.orgMacy’s, J. Crew, Gymboree, Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren and others have been named in such cases and at least 10 have reached settlements including a $6 million offer by Kohl’s Department Stores and a $50 million preliminary settlement by J. C. Penney.

In the meantime, Amazon is gearing up for its annual Prime Day   -- taking place on July 12 -- which has been criticized in the past for not offering real deals.



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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.