I am no stranger to Amazon as not only I am an affiliate but I buy dozens of products from Amazon per month and I can tell you one of the most false and misleading things about the Amazon marketplace is the way 3rd party brands give the appearance that things are on sale or you are getting a huge discount on items from them when in fact they are offering the product for the same price as everyone else, they are just fixing the “list” price so that it would appear they are giving a huge discount or sale.
A prime example would be if you did a search for the Play Station VR Starter Bundle (or launch bundle) and you can see one product lists it as “Save $1,380” because it is only $619.99 but had a list of $1,999.99 and the other is simply $608 without listing any sale or discount.
Articles like the one from the LA Times recently are shedding light how consumers are being duped by the allure of “discount” or sale, when in fact they are paying normal retail premiums. Now Amazon from what I know doesn’t specifically set the List Price for products, this is something the individual store can set and Amazon will compare the list price with other list prices for the same product and remove the list price if it finds the list price isn’t a fair match or appears to be defaulted. But when a store is clever like changing the “Launch Bundle” to “Starter Bundle” which is not the proper and official term for the PSVR Launch Bundle they likely didn’t find another “list price” because no other store sells it by that name, so therefore the list price gets set and shown indicating a discount that really does not exist.
This is more stores that game Amazon’s system than a direct Amazon fault in my opinion, but Amazon should have been more aware of it and kill it as soon as possible. It should have AI or algorithms that can spot keyword changes and such when a product is in fact the same thing by scanning more details in the product information to appropriate a listing match. But this is far more rampant than you would believe, just do a search for any product term like “Bluetooth” for example.
Are we really to believe that so many stores are having sales and discounts on products greater than 35% off all the time? No this is simply setting a list price high and then putting the actual price so that the buyer perceives that they are getting a discount and saving a lot of money on a product that would normally retail for 35% or more than the current price they are seeing. It is misleading, it is like putting a $10 item in a store that you know you are selling for $10, then putting a big sign on it listing it for $99.99 and crossing off the $99.99 and then putting $10.00 in red to catch someone’s eye. You never were going to list it for $99.99 and if a store front did this and was caught there likely would be penalties for doing such a thing.
List prices for Amazon products however are on their way out and will be phased out of existence very soon, between the consumer lawsuits, investigations and marketing strategy shift of Amazon I look forward to where list price is non-existent and you can simply shop on product alone and compare the different sellers + shipping costs for a final total cost of purchase. Here are some other sources for more information related to the Amazon List price.