Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-04-01
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



The Internet
The Price Is Wrong
by Andrew Davis

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Conventional wisdom says the Internet gives consumers more power than ever. After all, the Web is full of sites with product details and price comparisons that shed light on purchasing the previously inscrutable: mortgages, cars, insurance, airline tickets and the like. Priceline and eBay even let consumers set the prices they want to pay.

However, there's another side to the equation. The Internet also gives sellers more information about consumers than ever before—how many products they buy and when, perhaps even how many each can afford.

Eventually, two people might get the same pop-up ad for the same T-shirt, but one ad pitches it for $15 while another says it's $10. That is known as price discrimination, and it's not necessarily bad. Economists say it can make producers more efficient and promote competition.

However, even in an uncertain future, one thing is sure: Consumers will hate it.

This vision of the Internet is the basis of a new analysis from Andrew Odlyzko, a former Bell Labs mathematician now at the University of Minnesota's Digital Technology Center. Odlyzko expects price discrimination to become more pervasive not only because so much personal data is being collected in online commerce but also because technology limits what people can do with online content.

On some levels, price discrimination can make producing goods and services more efficient. Say an airline has 10 seats left on a flight and needs $4,000 in revenue to make the trip profitable. If the airline charges $400 for each seat, that might not tempt enough people for the airline to make a profit. However, if the airline finds two business travelers willing to pay $1,200 per seat, it can charge a more enticing $200 for the remaining eight tickets, increasing the likelihood of a full flight. So it's natural for many kinds of companies to try to vary their prices to suit certain times, places or buyers. That's why gasoline is more expensive in wealthy towns and air conditioners cost more in the summer.

Odlyzko believes that price discrimination simply could make people feel bad. After all, in the airline example, the people in the $1,200 seats may think they were robbed, while people in the cheap seats might kick themselves for not pursuing an even better deal. Even worse, the economy could suffer if technology helps suppliers engage in price discrimination against producers of important goods and services.

Odlyzko isn't entirely pessimistic. He expects the Internet to allow new tools for detecting price discrimination, even as companies try to hide it by bundling several goods or services together at an attractive—but subtly customized—price.


Sites of the Month:

1. Cubavera ( This company claims to 'translate the joy of Hispanic culture into fashionable apparel.' Well, any way you cut it, these clothes are slammin'. What's helpful is that you can find out the nearest store that sells Cubavera clothing. What doesn't help is that you can't buy from the site—yet.

2. Chicago Salsa Dancing & Lessons ( You won't find a more comprehensive site covering salsa in the Windy City. Get the 411 on Latin nightclubs and dance lessons (covering merengue, bachata, and salsa). You can even learn about dance etiquette (like not getting fancy unless the dance floor is empty) and even order gift certificates for lessons.


I'm at .

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

INTERNET Hamburger Mary's camps it up with 'Wannakiki' 2018-08-22 - The owners of Hamburger Mary's International are camping it up this summer in a new seven-episode YouTube series called Camp Wannakiki. Ashley ...

Gay News

NUNN ON ONE: INTERNET The fringe 'Benefits' of Kurt Conroyd 2016-08-23 - Actor Kurt Conroyd plays a gay man named River Manning in the web series The Benefits of Gusbandry. This Portland based comedy series ...

Gay News

INTERNET Locals discuss politics, pop culture in 'The Gay Agenda' 2013-12-04 - Bowties and martinis pepper the set of new LGBT talk show "The Gay Agenda," suggesting a tone of both humor and sophistication, which ...

Gay News

Internet activist commits suicide 2013-01-15 - Aaron Swartz—an Internet activist, hacker, author and programmer who created the web-feed format RSS—committed suicide at age 26, according to ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINTS The Internet prepares for .gay 2012-09-12 - Armed with my first laptop and a dream back in 1996, I entered unchartered space by starting an LGBT marketing company. Gay rights ...

Gay News

Comcast and Mayor Emanuel kick off Internet essentials 2012-08-16 - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Comcast Executive Vice President, David L. Cohen, and civic and community leaders Aug. 15 announced year two of Internet ...

Gay News

New Indiegogo campaign launched for internet cooking show 2011-12-29 - Foodgasm, the sensual web cooking series, has recently launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to complete four more episodes on the new web series. ...

Gay News

New Indiegogo Campaign Launched for Internet Cooking Show 2011-12-12 - Foodgasm, the sensual web cooking series, has recently launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to complete four more episodes on the new web series. ...

Gay News

BUSINESS Winston's Internet Cafe is getting buzz 2010-06-02 - At first glance, Winston's Internet Café is a coffeehouse like many others. Filled with comfortable leather armchairs and sofas and nooks where customers ...

Gay News

Forum looks at love, sex and the Internet 2010-05-26 - Topics such as intimacy, relationships and being online were discussed during "Love in the Age of Grindr," a forum that took place May ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.