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AbeBooks - Prices Changing on Pending Sales?

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Edited: Jan 14, 2:19pm Top

Looking for insight or experience of others on prices changing for pending online sales.

I experienced one such occurrence on AbeBooks this afternoon, shopping for a particular book from a specific seller. Between the time I made my selection and checked out, the selling price increased by more than 10%. I couldn't find any way to buy the same book from the same seller at the price they originally offered. The increase was not unreasonable given other listings, and certainly wasn't prohibitive. I can't even fault a seller for wanting to get more on a sale rather than less; but the way this happened bordered on deceptive, and was about as blatant a money-grab as it could get. I don't know if it was the seller's doing or the site's, but what they accomplished (apart from getting another dollar or so) was making me skeptical, watchful and wary going forward. I've seen Amazon bump prices between initial offers and completed purchases, and I've suspected it was happening on one or another book sale site before; but this was my first plain-as-day, documentable price-swapping on a site that I'd found to be generally trustworthy for years. At a minimum, I'm not inclined to buy again from any seller or site that I can't trust.

Is it just me who's been played for a fool, or are others having similar experiences? If you've had similar experiences, are they limited to Amazon and AbeBooks, or is it getting to be endemic with online retailers? I welcome your responses.

Edited: Jan 14, 2:41pm Top

I am not sure how Abebooks handles it but is it possible that someone bought the cheapest copy so by the time you went to check out, the cheapest was the next least expensive?

Amazon changes their prices based on their algorithms - if you add a book to your basket, you can find its price changed in either direction if you do not check out soon-ish. I had never had issues once I start the checkout process but adding the book to your basket does not freeze the price... Not the marketplace books though - they either get sold as they are or they are sold before you get to checkout and you cannot checkout at all)

Jan 14, 3:28pm Top

You had to make me go and test it! While I was at it, I went to SecondSpin and ordered a couple of films that have been on my wishlist as well. And it's not even my Thingaversary.

Jan 14, 3:57pm Top

>3 2wonderY: Every day is the Thingaversary of someone who doesn't notice, and needs someone else to compensate for their negligence.

Edited: Jan 14, 5:41pm Top

It does depend on how long the pending is. Final prices depend on a number of factors, some of which can change over time. Others may be only included in the final price, sometimes depending on the final address.

Book price - probably shouldn't vary in an hour or so except in cases such as >2 AnnieMod: mentions.

Shipping costs - for many used books this can be more than the book cost. Inside the USA this should usually stay the same. But you could miss the fact that this will be added to the price first mentioned.

Taxes for your local address.

(For international sales changes in currency rates. Usually these won't change a lot in an hour or two, but it could make a visible difference if an update happens during the time you are considering the purchase. I also get a bit of a shock when the £ price gets changed to the € price on checkout.)

Jan 14, 6:53pm Top

All good insights; thank you. For reference:
  • >2 AnnieMod: It's certainly possible someone bought the low-priced copy just as I tried placing an order; or maybe the Seller chose that moment to raise its asking price; or maybe the price change was a caching issue. (LT has taught me much about those!). There was no difference in the edition, the seller, or the description, only the price. To all indications, the seller had only one copy on offer. I even went back and searched it again - same result. AbeBooks still added it to my cart each time, and would have let me check out, but only at the higher price.
  • >3 2wonderY: I'm so sorry! (No, not really, unless my apologizing makes you feel better or affords you a convenient excuse 😊.)
  • >4 anglemark: That's wisdom if I've ever heard it. May I use that line at home?
  • >5 MarthaJeanne: Very good insights, but most occurred to me at the time. Time pending was a matter of minutes only, if that much. The shipping cost - all domestic U.S. - remained the same; there was no sales tax; and all amounts were in U.S. dollars.

Jan 14, 7:14pm Top

>6 jasbro:

Now that is weird - if a later search finds it at the lower price...

Could it be a currency and/or taxes issue? AKA - when you search it finds it without taxes but when you checkout it adds them because of the address you specify and where the warehouse actually is? The e-commerce taxes can be annoying. Or the seller and you being in different countries and both processes using different rates?

Jan 15, 9:39am Top

I've never encountered an instance exactly like that, but I've seen the price go up after I added to basket but before I clicked to finalize the purchase.

But I've also seen my screen show an "out of date reality" -- not sure if those are the exact words I want. Say I have the item in my basket on one tab, and then for some reason I search the same item from the same seller on another tab, and find that the price is now higher on the re-search, but when I look at my first tab it still shows the old price. Even if I complete the purchase on the old tab, that process will probably 'refresh' it so the sale goes through at the higher price. Perhaps always refreshing your basket before clicking Buy would clear up the problem. But I'm just guessing.

Jan 15, 11:27am Top

>8 Crypto-Willobie: If you follow a link to a webshop, you will sometimes get a lower price intended to lure customers there, than if you go to the shop directly and search for the product you want to buy. That can be a factor in what you describe.

Edited: Jan 15, 12:21pm Top

Again, good insights; thank you.
  • >7 AnnieMod: No, it was a U.S. seller, to an inter-state U.S. buyer (no sales tax), in U.S. currency. The only payment components were the sale price that changed and the shipping cost that remained constant.
  • >8 Crypto-Willobie: I particularly appreciate your sharing this experience. It's a variant I hadn't thought of, but will certainly watch for.
  • >9 anglemark: I generally start by researching editions on LT, then Bookfinder to see who's offering what. In 20± years using Bookfinder, I've never found their reported pricing to be inaccurate or unreliable. Granted, any foreign currency prices are only ball-park, and I suspect the actual exchange rate for a card payment is steeper than reported at the point-of-sale (I really should check that out!); but otherwise, in my experience, the Bookfinder offer price in U.S. dollars typically bears out when I click through to the actual vendor site. That's what changed to surprise and frustrate me here.

Edited: Jan 15, 5:59pm Top

>9 anglemark:

Yeah I've seen that too. Especially from ADDALL to Amazon. But that's not really what I'm referring to.

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