Companies are increasingly using browsing history, cookies and personal records to develop unique prices.
This explains the huge fluctuation in price if you and a friend both look for the same holiday cottage online.
Custom pricing tends to feel rather unfair in most cases, but there are some ways around commercial custom pricing that anybody can try. Here are three prices that fluctuate wildly according to your digital footprint.
Insurance companies are essentially gambling on the risk of having to pay out. Throughout the history of the insurance trade, cheaper prices having been offered to people that present the least risk.
Car insurance is a field in which the number of variables contributing to risk assessment results are staggering.
Employment type, age, gender, car usage, property ownership and many other factors are typically used to compute a car insurance quote.
Insurance companies have taken to using browsing history to create instant quotes. While this may be very convenient for consumers, the prices developed are not always fair ones.
Surf with a VPN enabled or your cookies deleted in order to get prices that actually match the information you willingly give prospective insurers.
Airlines and air fare price comparison websites offer some of the most wildly fluctuating costs around.
Companies use the information that can be legally skimmed from your digital footprint to offer prices based on your interest in flights, your job and your previous search history.
While clearing your browsing history and cookies can go some way to helping you get cheaper tickets, it is a bit of a hassle to clear your history after every search – especially during long and protracted booking processes.
Downloading a reliable VPN will help you to get cheaper flights every time. Most VPNs allow you to select the region you want to ‘browse from’.
This enables you to shop around to see if cheaper tickets are being offered to people from certain areas of the world with a low flight uptake.
Air fares are expensive, so even a small percentage increase in price can take some tickets beyond the reach of most people.
As companies become more and more data driven, expect air fares to fluctuate in price even more substantially.
Interestingly, some prices fluctuate in an attempt to even out inequalities rather than making them worse.
In Finland, speeding ticket prices are partially calculated by an algorithm that takes into account the income a driver has.
This is possible because of the huge digital footprint carried by every person’s number plate.
Using a number plate, a government organization can work out how much you earn, how much your car is worth and when you bought it.
It can find your name, given address and criminal history. A scary prospect, yes, but one that could potentially be used to smaller fines from people with less money that would always be disproportionately punished by financial penalties.
Obviously how much of an impact a fine has (and therefore how much of a deterrent it is) will vary greatly depending on the income of the speeder.