Target corrects embarrassing app price-switching practice

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When is the price not the price on an item you’re thinking of buying?

Target has had to address that question after a TV report found its app would routinely bump up the price on some items when it sensed shoppers were already in a store.

Target was secretly changing prices on app users 

A two-month investigation from KARE-TV found that Minneapolis, Minneasota-based Target was doing something deceptive. The Target app would show one price to users when they were, say, at home or work and then use geolocation to secretly push through price hikes when they went into a store.

In some instances, the prices on items rose by $100 or more:

  • An Apple Watch band jumped by $2
  • A Shark vacuum rose $40
  • A Graco child car seat went up $72
  • A Samsung 55-inch Smart TV increased by $100
  • A Dyson vacuum skyrocketed in price by $148

These drastic price differences were noted by the TV station when walking from the parking lot outside a Target to inside the store.

Worse yet, Target made no disclosure in the app that it was doing this. It took an eagle-eyed user to notice it and tip off the TV station.

After being made red with embarrassment over the practice, Target says it’s stopped the practice. Furthermore, Target says it updated the app to clearly display “online” versus “in-store” prices right next to a product.

What to do if you’re still worried about price-switching

However, if you’re still concerned about price switching in the Target app, there’s a simple workaround: Just turn off location services within the app.

When you’re in the app, click on your name icon in the bottom right of the screen. Scroll down to “app settings.” Then click “Location” and switch it to “Never.”

That way you’ll never see anything but online prices — whether or not you’re in a store.


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