Attention online shoppers!

We wanted to buy Mom a present, a KitchenAid 6 Quart Mixer. We found what looked like the best deal on the empire red one on (Amazon), especially with the announced post-purchase $50 rebate, bringing the total down to $271.99. Scanning through the other color options, we discovered that the Meringue color one was $22 less, so we added it to the cart. But Mom was hesitant: she liked the savings, but her heart really wanted the red one; who could blame her, I like red too. OK, $22 is not such a huge difference. So we switched back to the red one. But, wait a minute, there was no longer a rebate offer on the red one. Back to the white one, rebate still on, but on the red one it’s gone! After some thinking, I decided to log out of Amazon, clear the browser’s recent history (cookies and all), then we relaunched and went back to Amazon, to that red mixer. And, bingo! The rebate is back on.

Lesson: they track you, they profile you, and they play with the incentives they offer you (or not), based on some model that I haven’t yet figured out. But it appeared like the model decided that we were sufficiently in love with the red mixer that we would be willing to buy it even rebate absent.

Lesson 2: in many cases, wiping clean the history slate and showing up with no info for them to mine can be advantages. As a matter of fact, I have set my browser to clean up every time I close it; in addition, I find myself clearing history several times during the day.

There should be better ways to fight Big Brother; we are working on it. Until then, clear that history!

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