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How can I tell if I’m being ripped off on Amazon?

best prices on Amazon
Sale or no sale? CamelCamelCamel can help you

Amazon is being accused of one of the oldest retail tricks in the book: artificially raising the price of goods for a short period so that it can advertise huge discounts in its ‘sales’.

The accusation comes from a curious source: the inventor of “non-toxic, odourless foot and bag deodorisers”. He claims Amazon agreed to sell his products for $9.99 before unilaterally raising the price to $15.42 ahead of its recent Prime Day sale. Lo and behold, come Prime Day, the deodorisers were back on ‘sale’ at $9.99. It stinks worse than my trainers after a park run.

So how do you check if Amazon’s sale prices really are a genuine discount? You need a camel. Three of them.

How to check Amazon price history

You can check the price history of almost anything on Amazon using the brilliantly titled CamelCamelCamel. Either enter the product’s name or the Amazon web address (URL) of the product you’re interested in, and it will show you the price history of that item, spanning back years if it’s got the data.

Take, for example, this Epson WorkForce WF-3620DWF printer:

CamelCamelCamel

 

We can see from the graph that the printer’s been on sale for as little as £79.98 last year – almost £100 cheaper than its starting price. But look at the spike in June this, just before Prime Day in July. Did Amazon bump up the price to £130 to make it look cheaper in the sale? That noise you can hear is our lawyers on the phone, so we’re going to leave you to arrive at your own conclusions…

If you’re interested in an expensive tech product on Amazon, CamelCamelCamel has a couple of brilliant features that can help you to perfectly time the purchase. On the website, you can enter your email address or Twitter handle, and you will be sent an alert if the product reaches your ‘desired price’.

The site also has a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox called the Camelizer.

Camelizer

If you’re shopping on Amazon, click on the little camel icon in the top right of your browser and you’ll get a small pop-up window showing the item’s price history, allowing you to see if it’s a good time to buy. Prices can fluctuate several times a week, so if you’re in no great rush to get the product, it can pay to wait.

Main pic credit: russellstreet/Flickr

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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