If you're hoping to book a cheap trip on a discount travel site this holiday season, take note: You might be getting less of a deal than you think.
According to a study by Northeastern University and a report from The Wall Street Journal, popular online booking agencies have been deploying discriminatory tactics to charge certain customers extra. Non-members get a higher quote — an average of $12 more per night — than registered visitors when they search for hotels on Cheaptickets and Orbitz. Apple fans are in luck: Shoppers using iOS unknowingly receive a $15 discount on Travelocity when they browse for accommodations. The research also suggested that more expensive options are offered to random users on Hotels.com.
The practice raises serious questions about business ethics — mainly because of the lack of consumer transparency. And yet, these findings are hardly surprising. Our browser and purchase histories have always been aggregated by platforms like Facebook to gain audience insights for advertisers. Whether there will be stricter guidelines to monitor price steering remains to be seen. If all this is sounding like serious Big Brother stuff to you, you can protect your data by clearing your web cache and cookies. Because if you can't beat 'em, delete 'em. (Yahoo! Travel)