Whether it's fine print under asterisks or misleading price tags, many companies have techniques to use prices to trick consumers. The following is a list of tips from the Mint.com blog on how to spot these tricks.
An example of this tactic is in the American airline industry.
The airlines would "unbundle" prices by removing items that were included with fare like meals and checked bags. This persisted until the Transportation Department put an end to it.
Companies will make smaller products, label them as "new," and sell them at the same price as the old product.
A "half-gallon" of Orange Juice that is actually 59 ounces is another example of tactics companies use to squeeze out profits.
Beware of marketing language that obscures the terms of purchase.
Blockbuster settled claims of deceptive advertising with 47 states in 2005 becuase the video rental chain promised "no late fees," but billed customers the full price of videos and games.
When consumers notice an asterisk, they should check the terms attached.
Companies often hide "gotchas" at the bottom of products.
Credit card companies are notorious for this, according to the Mint Blog.
Companies will often say "prices starting at $99..." or some other price.
The cheapest product to validate their statement is usual a stripped down version that no one will buy.
Care dealers and electonic sales companies will often use this.
Marked down price tags are not always a good thing.
If a product says "20 percent off" it's important to find out where the markdown is from.
The only real way to find the best deal is to comparison shop.