Hack Book Depository To Get Even Cheaper Prices

Book Depository is a perennial Lifehacker favourite, in part because of its "no shipping fees" policy. The site actually handles that by slightly adjusting the prices depending on your browser-detected location rather than your entered address, which means with a little browser hacking you can convince Book Depository that you're based in the UK and get an even better deal.

A poster at OzBargain picked up on a thread at Whirlpool and outlined the technique, which involves using a Firefox plugin to edit your cookies and change your "location", as well as browsing to the site via a proxy to add an additional discount code. Hit the link for the full procedure.

The technique sparked off a long thread of discussion at OzBargain and Whirlpool, with some posters arguing that it's unethical to use the technique and others noting the Book Depository will probably work out a way to block it eventually and that if it advertises "free shipping", it has to make good on the deal. I personally would feel a little uncomfortable deliberately engineering prices to what's probably a loss-making arrangement, but clearly lots of people don't. As ever, Booko is a great resource for finding the cheapest price for any given book you're after.

Even cheaper prices at Book Depository


Comments

    It _is_ unethical to use this technique. You're intentionally deceiving a well-meaning company to their financial detriment. Shipping costs money; deal with it. I'm really disappointed in lifehacker for posting this.

      I bought some books from book depositary. After all the books were delivered, My credit card was debited by them without any reasons. I asked for refund, but they ignored me. Is there anyone else who has had the same experience?

      Would it be unethical for me to ask my cousin in England to log in to Bookdepository.co.uk and order a book for me at the price he gets and have it sent to my address? Effectively it's the same thing.

        Except that your cousin might be willing to swallow the cost of shipping in a way that a business isn't.

          I think what "simulacrum" means is if the cousin in UK enters the address for delivery by BK as an Aussie address. This happens all the time with many different online firms in my experience and they detect the delivery address and adjust prices accordingly, so I can't see why BK could not do the same.

            BK quotes the same price to everyone within a country based on where you're browsing from, then claim "free shipping". They don't know the delivery address until after you have added the product to your cart, at which point the price can't be changed. So the price my cousin gets quoted is the same that I would get quoted using this hack. Business swallows the same cost of shipping regardless.

    Have to agree with the naysayers here; a company tries to make things simpler for it's customers, and an element out there thinks it's okay to exploit that and stick it to them. If the product's cheaper already, for gods sake give them the penny to send it to you without shafting them. Lets hope the Book Depository realises it's a shitty world out there and sets up separate delivery calculation, based on the buyer's entered delivery address, rather than go broke because they were trying to be nice.

    This is not just unethical but a crappy thing to post. Really crappy. Book depository have made a positive contribution to the book distribution business and you are offering advice to people to mess the company about. Crappy and pathetic!

    Book Depository is a wonderful site and doesn't deserve to be hacked, but they really should stop advertising "Free Shipping". If the shipping was truly free, the price would be the same no matter where they mailed to. Perhaps adding "in the U.K." would be more realistic.

    I agree with the previous comments - bad form Angus.

      I've responded on the ethics point at some length in a separate post.

    It's flagrantly absurd and irresponsible to themselves to not base the shipping cost on delivery address.

    Think about it.

    You def shouldn't have posted this.

    Sounds like a lesson-scenario for the new ethics classes - is it ethical to make a post like the post above?

    Wait a minute, I just went to the Book Depository site for the first time in my life. It says on the front page: "The Book Depository. Free shipping worldwide on all our books." If they are changing the book prices based on customer location, then how on earth it means that free shipping. It just looks like another sales gimmick. Am I missing something here?

      No, near as I can tell you're right. The only think 'unethical' going on here is company claiming to give you something for free, but quietly charging you for it in a way you don't notice.

      Angus, you provided information about a widely circulating tip regarding how to hold a company to their original promise. Information that would only be useful to people paying for the companies services anyway. Nothing was taken away, nothing was stolen.

      Considering how much pirated and stolen media would exist on the harddrives of everyone here being Moral-er Than Thou, I'm at a loss to understand where the issue is.

      I also just found and bought a book I've been looking for for a while, thanks to this post. I'd most likely have found an ebook torrent otherwise. If the worst you can be accused of is encouraging people to buy rather than steal, you're doing better than most.

    There has been a lot of comments suggesting that following this tip is cheating or that BD could be making a loss. It isn't and they aren't. If it really was an issue for them they would simply change the "free postage" deal.

    I suspect that what is really happening here is that the publishers/distributors require BD and others to sell at different price points for different countries. So when they detect that you are in another country they simply apply the prices that they have to and then ship for free. If this is the case then BD could well be honouring their worldwide free postage pledge in good faith.

    This really isn't a story about people ripping off a book retailer, it's another example of how the Australian consumer gets ripped off by geographic pricing discrimination. So, for both highlighting the issue and offering a work around I'd like to say a very big thank you to Angus and Lifehacker. This is the sort of article, amongst others, that I like to see. Well done!

    @Greg, " another example of how the Australian consumer gets ripped off by geographic pricing" . Dude, I think you'll find that due to geography , shipping anything between UK and us is always going to incur a cost. And if u think that's a rip-off, try moving it yourself. Its a bloody long way.

    Bookdepository is EXTREMELY good at price discrimination: they take advantage of both customers' lack of information and charge the highest price that the consumers are willing to take.

    There are two sites with different prices but essentially the same stuffs are sold: bookdepository.co.uk and bookdepository.com Not everyone knows about this!

    And even if prices for aussies are higher than for brits, aussies will still buy from bookdepository because there are simply no better alternative in terms of price, and Bookdepository earns the most money by charging the highest possible price that consumers in different parts of the world would take. (Very inelastic demand) And it is predictable that not everyone would ask a friend in the uk to buy for you on every occasion because it might simply be too much fuss.

    So in the end, BD earns the most $$$ and consumers still manage to get better deals even without some kind of get around.

    I started the whirlpool thread and only just found this! I feel really guilty. Please don't rip them off! Even with slightly higher prices to Australia, they are still an astoundingly good service.

    I've also discovered the price disparity isn't as big as you'd think - I recently had a family member in the UK and asked her to purchase several books for me if they were cheaper over there. Surprisingly, all but one of them were cheaper in Australia! I assumed the price disparity was due to them charging shipping costs as well, but now I can't tell what determined it.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    Seeing as Hack/Slash bk. 4 is $54 on Chapel st and $25 on BD then yeah I'm gonna go with BD.

    What you are all missing is this. BD is not always the cheapest out there. There are many examples, perhaps the majority, where using booko.com.au that the price adjusted for delivery ie grossed up, that BD is not the price leader.
    Therefore the logical conclusion is that their margin is able to absorb their "free delivery" how else can others sell the same item much cheaper before delivery?f you can answer that question honestly, then you have the answer as to whether it is ethical or not .

    well, sorry to disappoint all the moaners, but if this technique is slightly "unethical", how do you qualify a company advertising "free delivery" when the price of goods is actually differentiated based on the client's location to absorb this "free" delivery?? That is false advertising, which is not unethical but *illegal* AND it is price differentiation, which has been condemned is similar situations in numerous court actions around the world.

    an interesting point to add is that AusPost is eating a lot of the cost. You all might find this article on about Book Depository and Royal Mail interesting, as it adds another dimension to this discussion: http://tinyurl.com/3naybof
    Looks like an effective way to squeeze out any competition here in Australia, where the shipping rates are so high for private individuals. No book rate is just dumb. Makes the USPS look awesome...

    I love Book Depository prices. I buy books for my kids all the time.
    Have you guys tried the App? It's great, I love using it from my phone on the go. It's "Shop Book Depository" - android app:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bookbrowser.appforbookdepository

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