One product, five different prices: How e-commerce sites mug you

New Delhi: Shopping online is one of the most favoured hobbies we have these days. Since we are hooked to our handy smartphones the entire day, shopping has definitely become more convenient and fun.

Surfing through e-commerce sites and learning about new products and their attributes is quite an entertaining leisure. But like every scientific boon has a downside, so does shopping online.

Recently, it was found that e-commerce giant Amazon India had been selling a beauty product for a preposterous price. While they showed the actual price of the product to be over Rs 30,000, they were selling the same for Rs 6,400.

Screenshot from Amazon

Any excited shopper would go gaga over such a discount, but would it not strike you even for once as to how they are able to give this massive discount, or at least whether the product in question is actually as expensive as Rs 30,000?

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate 30ml is a nighttime facial oil that claims to visibly restore the appearance of skin, as per the official website of Kiehl.

Here comes the twist, upon checking some others sites, we found a huge gap in the prices. While Amazon claimed to lure in buyers with an exaggerated MRP (marked retail price), Nykaa, Sephora and Kiehl’s website displayed a much lesser MRP.

Kiehl’s and Sephora priced the facial oil at $47, which if converted to Indian currency would be about Rs 3,200 approximately.

Screenshot from Sephora

On the other hand, Nykaa, Strawberrynet, and are selling the same 30ml facial oil for Rs 3,700, Rs 4,761.50 and Rs 4,779, respectively.

Screenshot from Nykaa


Screenshot from Strawberrynet
Screenshot from Skingene


Those who are gullible and often get lured in with inviting discounts are suggested to check product specifications with three-four websites before purchasing anything online.

What often happens with the discount culture is that online platforms put up exaggerated MRPs and then give high discounts showing their customers that it is a beneficial deal. But in reality, these items are actually being bought at a much higher rate.

DB Post contacted Amazon for comments but the company has not responded yet.

MV Natrajan, Chief business officer, VLCC, shares some tips on how one can make sure the product they are buying is genuine.

Flimsy packaging: Before buying any product, consumers should inspect the packaging and design of the product in addition to the colour of the product. One should be aware of flimsy packaging, eg: missing details such as batch no, place of manufacture, address, etc.

Unreal discounts: If you buy something at a fraction of the price, or the deal is too good to be true, then it usually is not true. If the offer is unrealistically low, say, 70-75% of the MRP, one should know that it may be a fake product.

Look out for details: A company prints several important details such as batch number, date of manufacturing, MRP, expiry date on the pack. It is important for consumers to check for these details before buying any product. Typically, fake products miss out on a few details while copying the information. If consumers have any doubt, they should call the company line and confirm the batch number details. They can further send the product to the company for analysis.

How can one be aware of frauds while shopping online?

“With counterfeiting on the rise, it becomes all the more important for consumers to check for the authenticity of a product to avoid buying fake ones. Counterfeit products can quite often appear to be authentic. Hence, the best way to get genuine beauty products online is to buy the products straight from the brand or its authorised retailers and dealers,” suggests Natrajan.

(The story will be updated if Amazon responds)