Government orders crackdown on online stores charging different prices to individual shoppers

Known as personalised or dynamic pricing, the practice sees prices linked to what the firms think customers will spend.

The decision is based on information including the customer’s location, marital status, birth date and travel history.

Now the Government has ordered the Competitions and Markets Authority to identify how many sellers are involved in a bid to stop buyers being exploited.

Companies such as Amazon, Admiral, Staple and Home Depot have all been criticised.

The practice has been recorded since 2000 when Amazon was accused of altering it’s prices for a DVD of Stephen King’s IT.

They allegedly changed the price depending on the customer’s location and were accused of charging older shoppers more.

Within two weeks the company was forced to apologise, issue refunds and state that it never tests prices on customer demographics.

The Financial Conduct Authority has announced a similar review of personalised pricing for car and home insurance.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Ensuring markets work fairly and in the interests of consumers is a cornerstone of our modern Industrial Strategy, and I am proud to say that our consumer protection regime is among the strongest in the world.

“UK businesses are leading the way in harnessing the power of new technologies and new ways of doing business, benefiting consumers and helping them save money.

"But we are clear that companies should not be abusing this technology and customer data to treat consumers, particularly vulnerable ones, unfairly.”

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