This Is How They Trick You

Online shopping is a slippery slope.

Photo: Robbert Noordzjj

Here’s a neat video that lays out just how online retailers get you to spend more money, just in case you find yourself staring at a vast array of very full online shopping carts with no clear idea of how you got there, courtesy of Lifehacker.

The Tricks Online Stores Use to Make You Spend More Money, and How to Avoid Them

None of these tricks are particularly new; what’s interesting for me is thinking about them as “tricks” rather than incentive. Clearly, I’m part of the problem. Tricks like offering free shipping if you spend a specific dollar amount and one-click spending are things that always seemed like a minor irritation and a lovely convenience, respectively. Of course I want the free shipping and I’m on the site anyway mulling over a cart full of face cream and drivel. I’ve been staring at the cart for a few weeks; one of these days I’m going to buy something. Do I need the thing I throw in the cart to make it to the $25 minimum? Maybe. Sometimes when faced with this conunudrum, I rope a friend into adding something to my purchase, but more often than not, I just add something else and be done with it. Five dollars and an apple cider donut says I was going to do that anyway.

The only place on the internet my debit card information is saved is Amazon, where I’ve enabled the “one-click spending” option so that I don’t have to fumble for my card every single time. Also, a million people use my Amazon account; by establishing my card as the dominant one and sending a few sternly-worded emails to those who use my account to never click that button has worked out for me with few problems. Recently a friend ordered hangers and dog toys from Amazon and accidentally charged me for it. She apologized profusely, cancelled the order before my card was charged, and we were all set.

The rest of the tricks do feel a little more insidious. Few people are able to resist the lure of sitewide sale banners or the pair of shoes you looked at once on Zappos that follows you around like a ghoul everywhere else you go. I’m inured to those tactics; I never engage. “Now that you’re prepared for these tricks, let’s see how much money you save,” the video crows at the end. I don’t know if it’s quite as easy as that.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.