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Sneaky online shopping website tactics
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Sneaky ways shopping sites get you to pay more

Retailers are getting really creative in how they get us to fill our carts. When I say creative, I don’t necessarily mean in a good way.

An estimated 79% of us shop online at least once a month, and 91% make purchases from our smartphones. Yes, me too. But how many of those purchases were manipulated?

Think you’re too smart to fall for a shopping trick? Think again.

Sneaky tricks

Don’t call it a compromise: Retailers often place a higher-priced, luxury version of a product next to a more reasonably priced, popular item to make it seem like a sweet deal.

When free isn’t free: You know this one — the free gift! BOGO, or “buy one, get one” deals, can be a trap. You might get a percentage off when you buy more, but you’re still paying something for that second item. It isn’t free unless it’s free! 

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Shipping on the house: How much extra are you spending for “free” shipping? Retailers are banking on you not realizing that the extra items in your cart cost more than the shipping fee would. Do the math.

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Hurry, time’s running out … or is it? Sites use countdown clocks to create a sense of urgency, so you click buy ASAP. Nine times out of 10, they’re bogus. Those inventory trackers — “only five left!” — are often phony, too.

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Then there are the dark arts

Some shopping tricks are sneakier than others. Here are some sly ways retailers manipulate you into a purchase.

  • This or that? Watch for misleading or deceptive language. A good example is a confusing checkbox that makes it unclear if you’re opting in or out of extra coverage … at an additional cost.
  • And your total is: Hiding the total cost of a product or service until later in the purchasing process is another trick. Um, hello, airlines and concert tickets!
  • How’d that get in there? Some sites go so far as to add items to your cart, hoping you’ll proceed to checkout anyway. Travel sites love doing this with trip insurance. 

I love to shop online as much as anyone

But knowing about this junk helps me save money, and I want the same for you. Don’t let those sneaky tactics turn you into a retail fool. Be a pal and share with a friend who shops online, too.

👱‍♀️ A woman says to a store clerk, “I need to buy a Barbie for my daughter. How much are they?” The clerk says, “Workout Barbie is $19.95, Beach Barbie is $24.95, Pilot Barbie is $29.95 and Divorced Barbie is $395.95.” She asks, “Why is Divorced Barbie so much more expensive?” The clerk says, “It’s obvious! Divorced Barbie comes with Ken’s House, Ken’s car, Ken’s boat and Ken’s furniture.”

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