We thought it worth flagging that the Office of Fair Trading published a report in May to help consumers understand how the use of their personal information and internet conduct is affecting the price they pay for goods and services online. The report also offers valuable guidance to online retailers, explaining how to avoid unfair, misleading or aggressive practices when personalising prices.
In summary, the report found no evidence of online businesses using cookies or repeat searches to increase prices. In fact, the OFT discovered that personalised pricing is commonly used to benefit consumers, for example by targeting people with certain online behavioural patterns in order to offer them a discount.
However, the message coming out of the report is that online retailers should, in general, be more transparent about the information they are collecting from consumers and how it is being, and will be, used. The OFT has reiterated that it will consider enforcement action if it finds evidence of any misleading or unfair practices online.