I like bargains and brake for thirty-percent-off sales, but the Amazon mobile price-comparison app bugs me. (It bugs a lot of people, and Amazon triggered outrage when it offered a one-day-only bounty of five-percent off the price of an item scanned at a brick-and-mortar store but bought through Amazon: Check out this. Then, for the sake of fairness, read this, too.)
At first, I couldn't figure out what I disliked about the app's concept. After all, I shop online and regularly compare prices at a handful of sites before clicking "purchase now." I check grocery-store circulars before I head to my neighborhood HEB or Kroger's and frequently visit both in the same week. (Neither is far, so I'm not racking up miles in the car to save a dime.) I believe in comparison shopping.
What's more, I've cooed about my Amazon Prime membership in this space and love my Kindle.
So, what the heck irks me about Amazon's price-comparison app?
I suspect consumers who go into brick-and-mortar stores, pick up items, and scan them into the app have no intention of buying from the stores they entered. Their visits are made simply to trigger lower prices from Amazon. Yet, those same consumers eyeball, try out, even fondle the items in question. Employee of the stores may answer questions and demonstrate features.
Granted it's the employees' job to answer questions and demonstrate features. When Hubs and I went shopping for a new refrigerator, we visited at least three brick-and-mortar stores before we bought at a fourth. At each, we questioned salespeople, opened and closed fridge doors, checked butter compartments, and examined finishes. In retrospect, did we waste salespeople's time at three out of four stores? Yes, but our intention at each was to buy there if we found the right fridge at the right price. Intention matters.
Amazon's price-comparison app caters to consumers who do little or no prior research and price-checking, and it sends them into brick-and-mortar stores they have little or no intention of patronizing,
Give me Prime membership and the Kindle, Amazon. Keep your app. I'm a bargain-hunter, not a jerk.