Facebook users could face higher prices

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You may think your use of Facebook and Twitter is fairly savvy. You may regularly 'like' or 'retweet' information about companies or products in order to win something or qualify for a special discount. However, one expert is warning that in the long run these things could end up costing you more.

The phenomenon we should be wary of is 'behavioural pricing'.

Tailored pricing

Businesses can already get an idea of the things you like, and the items you have browsed their online shop for, because they have implanted 'cookies' in their system, which report back on the things you are interested in.

There's nothing new about this: we are increasingly used to tailored adverts which pop up when we're online, advertising those very things we checked out a couple of days ago.

However, according to a report on Thisismoney, this idea may well be taken further, and end up costing you more.

How it works

Alex Gannett, founder of CampusSplash, told the website that in his opinion we will see more of the phenomenon this year. The idea is that if you have 'liked' something on Facebook, for example, you may be willing to pay more for the product. If you have sent pictures of a must-have purchase to all your friends, then the chances are that you are looking to buy it, and won't be put off by a small increase in the price.

Gannet said: "The use of your tweets, credit score, and web history in e-commerce pricing is frightening-but ultimately unavoidable."

The retail experts say there's nothing particularly new in this. Supermarkets and fast food restaurants already charge higher prices in posher areas, and they also use loyalty card information to decide who should have access to special deals. The stores already use whatever information is out there - so they would be foolish not to start using the information from your social networking too.

The barriers

However, there are a few spanners that consumers could throw into the works in order to keep this practice from taking off.

Behavioural pricing will depend on people not sharing prices with one another. If you're an avid user of social networking to talk about products and brands, then there's a chance you will spot you are being charged more for something than the next person - especially if your enthusiasm for the online world extends to shopping comparison sites.

The danger is that if the brands upset people who are particularly active in social networks, then by upsetting one customer they immediately upset hundreds more, who read their Twitter feed and Facebook updates.

In the final analysis, the stores may decide it's not worth the risk.

So what do you think? Is it right that stores should know so much about us? Are you happy to 'retweet' and 'like' and share your enthusiasm for brands? Would your view change if it meant you could be charged more? Let us know in the comments.
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