Today, I saw this article from Fox Business floating around Twitter and sitting at the top of the /r/technology subreddit. In the article, a vendor claims Amazon bumped up the suggested retail price on his product page to make it seem like the regular cost of his product was actually a deal.

To break this down, here's a screenshot of a product page for a WD 1TB hard drive:

The article is claiming Amazon bumped up the circled area to a higher price than it should've been, so that the listed price below looked like a nicer bargain. In fact, the vendor is claiming Amazon has done this more than once during peak sales times, like when his item was featured on BuzzFeed.

I'll be honest with you, I couldn't care less about that circled price right there. I'm not sure why anyone would. What is that number even telling you? Is it listing the MSRP? No. Is it listing what the price was yesterday? No. Where is that number being derived from? The answer: it's coming from thin air. Probably some Amazon algorithm running on a beat up computer in a back room somewhere. There's nothing on the page that says what that price is. It shouldn't even be there. It's nonsense, useless information. In fact, some pages don't even have it and Amazon has admitted to trying to do away with the whole system.

And if you follow our team at Thrifter, you'll never have to worry about what that price is telling you because we don't gauge the worth of a deal based on that.

If that price is supposed to suggest the amount of money you're saving on an object, it should be listing the average street price -- the value that item has been selling for over the course of the last few days and months. A real deal is when the value of an item has dropped below what it was selling for yesterday and the day before and the day before that. If the price hasn't dropped below that "street price" then it's not really a deal at all, is it?

If that 1TB hard drive up there has been selling at $53 for several months, then what good is noticing that it's selling at $53 now? That's not good at all. That's not a deal. But I can tell you it definitely hasn't been selling at $79.99 for the last several months, which is the listed "Price:" in that screenshot. So what's happening here? Is $53 a deal or not? (For the record, it's about $5 off the street price, which isn't bad. We tweeted it.)

This is why we do what we do. We use tools like third-party sites that track Amazon's pricing API to see what these products have been selling for. We use our own knowledge of what these devices sell for. We keep track of previous deals we've run on them. We follow the trending prices on these deals so when we say something is a deal, it's not based on useless information. And then we tell you everything you need to know, even if it's not exactly what you want to hear. It's not based on a random number on a page with no source. What we do is real, hard deal-tracking that eliminates the guessing game as much as possible.

We see the bad prices all the time. We see the products that raised their prices in June because they were ready for the Prime Day drop. We see the items that are dropping because they've been discontinued or there's a newer model out there. We see the prices that aren't really deals at all. That's the service a site like Thrifter and a deal-hunting team like ours brings to the table. We do that research so you don't have to.

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