Alternate Pricing

Georgia comics retailer Cliff Biggers has discovered that Amazon doesn’t offer the same price to everyone. They may give bigger discounts to new customers.

He says he’s been “victimized”, calling it “sleaze” and talking about filing an FTC complaint.

It’s not fun to find out that you could have gotten a better deal, sure, but is variable pricing all that unusual to a retailer? I don’t know the specifics of Biggers’ store, having never had the pleasure of visiting, but any retailer with his years of experience knows that comic pricing, especially on back issues, is highly variable. Amazon just does it backwards to the comic market, where long-standing subscription customers are the ones who get the better price, usually.

I also don’t know that it’s a great idea for a comic retailer to be demanding that Amazon offer the same low price to everyone … does he want to compete with 35% off publications?

6 Responses to “Alternate Pricing”

  1. David Oakes Says:

    How is this different from Columbia House giving you 11 titles for a penny up front, and then charging you full price on the rest? Or a credit card giving 6.9% on transferred balances, but the usual rate on anything you purchase in the future? “The first one is free” is a long standing practice in all levels and forms of business. I can’t see the FTC doing anything about it.

    As soon as Amazon has everyone hooked, they will be offering “Customer Loyalty Discounts” just like every other long term business. And the next start up will offer cut rates for switching over your Amazon account, and the dance will begin anew.

  2. Hal Shipman Says:

    And while he may enjoy being righteously indignant, he completely misses the obvious. Just set Amazon at to shop “blind,” like his work machine. I’d have to check my various firewall and other security programs, but I’m reasonably sure you can set cookie acceptance by domain. And you can be damned sure I’m going to try it. Of course, by blabbing about it instead of just going that route, Amazon might end up turning that feature off if the media picks up the “story.”

  3. Augie De Blieck Jr. Says:

    He’s just glomming onto this now? This has been a story for years. Let’s go back to WIRED in September 2000:,1367,38622,00.html

    or C|Net:

    It was only a “test” back then, but it looks to have stuck around.

    Of course, he’s not alone in just discovering this (from Dec 2005 now):

  4. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for the links, Augie.

    I personally find that, when it comes to DVDs, Amazon rarely has the best price I can find unless I commit to a preorder. I have better luck with day-of-release sale pricing at the big box stores.

  5. Augie De Blieck Jr. Says:

    I have an credit card that I use religiously. The points from there eventually pay off in $25 reward certificates that I use for hardcover comics and DVDs off Amazon. Very handy. And the free shipping still makes it to my doorstop in three days usually, anyway.

    But as always — cavaet emptor!

  6. Ray Cornwall Says:

    Amazon’s always higher than for just about every book- and Buy’s free shipping is much faster for a Jersey resident like me.

    But for the most part, the retailer that gets my dollars is I started keeping a spreadsheet of how much I’m saving a month. Currently I’m saving about 34% on my total order- I get bigger discounts for Marvel and DC stuff, of course, but even indy books get a 20-25% discount.




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