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Sneaky web retailer tricks to get you to buy

Sites create false urgency to make you spend
Posted at 9:18 AM, Jul 16, 2019

So you are shopping for something online and a box pops up telling you the item is in high demand and almost sold out.

Perhaps it says that you have just three minutes to complete your order with a countdown clock running.

Is that item really in high demand? A new report says it may just be a web retailer trick, often referred to as "dark patterns."

Phrases to watch for

The New York Times says web retailer pop ups one give shoppers a sense of urgency and make you think that you need to buy now and not a second later.

The report cites one site with a pop up saying, "Alexandria from Anaheim just saved $222." But the Times claims there is no such person.

The report links to a recent Princeton University study finding this phenomenon on hundreds of popular retail websites.

It may say, "Only a few left." Or, "Items in your cart are in high demand," or, "your order is reserved for just five minutes."

And in most cases (with the exception of concert tickets) it's not true, according to the Times.

Doesn't that Stink?

So from the "doesn't that stink" file: How false urgency gets you to spend more.

If that shirt or shoes are in high demand, there's a good chance you will click "buy."

But if it's just trickery, and you realize that later, you may say, "Doesn't that stink?"

Bottom line: Don't feel pressured to click the buy button unless it is concert tickets, which will probably be gone if you close out the site.

The Times says if you feel high pressure, close out your browser and search again later.

You don't need it that badly.

That way you don't waste your money.


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