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Prof. Sara Fisher Ellison Ph.D.

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December 2013: 'But even if some company swooped in and lowered search costs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that prices would fall as a result. Vendors could counteract the decrease in search costs by finding ways to make prices more difficult to compare — something known as “obfuscation,” studied by the M.I.T. economists Glenn Ellison and Sara Fisher Ellison. Sellers could obfuscate prices by giving different product names to an identical item, depending on which store is selling it, as the mattress industry has been accused of doing. Or they might lower prices for the specific keyword consumers search for, but then compensate with hidden fees or required add-on purchases. Many New York venue-based caterers quote a price per guest in the form of “[price] plus plus,” as in “$180 plus plus,” with one “plus” referring to taxes and the other “plus” referring to a “service” or “administrative” fee, which ranges somewhat arbitrarily from 18 to 25 percent, depending on the venue. This makes it very difficult to compare prices even when they’re aggregated side by side — similar to the rise of baggage fees on airlines in the age of Orbitz.'


RoleNameTypeLast Updated
Employee/Freelancer/Contractor (past or present) MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Organization Dec 16, 2013
Cooperation (past or present) Colleague/Co-worker of (past or present) Prof. Glenn Ellison Ph.D. Person Dec 16, 2013

Articles and Resources

Date Resource Read it at:
Dec 03, 2013 The Wedding Fix Is In

QUOTE: Wedding vendors seemed to be trying to size me up to figure out how much I’m willing to pay; consumer advocates say this is a common practice, as is charging more for a given service for a wedding than for a “family function” or “corporate event.”...forms of what economists call price discrimination; it sounds unfair, but it’s perfectly legal, and it’s easier to get away with in markets where there’s little price transparency and consumers are relatively uninformed.

New York Times