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WSJ finds websites base varying prices, offers on user data

Consumer websites offer their users different prices and deals based on what data they have about the user, according to a Wall Street Jounal investigation. The Journal identified several companies, including Staples, Discover Financial Services, Rosetta Stone Inc. and Home Depot Inc., that consistently adjusted prices and product offers based on user characteristics they discovered, such as location.

Presented with the findings, companies told the Journal that their practices mirror real world store adjustments and that the changes reflect the cost of doing business in different locations. The practice is not illegal, save for a few exceptions for situations such as race discrimination.

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