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网购折扣价到底便宜了谁

更新时间:2016-4-10 5:12:32 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

It’s Discounted, but Is It a Deal? How List Prices Lost Their Meaning
网购折扣价到底便宜了谁

SAN FRANCISCO — As traditional retailing falters, shutting stores and shedding workers, online merchants are reaping the rewards. People like the convenience of e-commerce, and they love the feeling that they are getting a deal.

旧金山——正当传统零售业步履蹒跚,关门店、大裁员的时候,网上商家却正在收获回报。人们喜欢电子商务带来的方便,而且中意那种买得划算的感觉。

The perception of a bargain is fostered by online retailers’ use of something variously labeled list price, suggested price, reference price or manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Whatever its name, the implication is that people are paying much more somewhere else.

标价、建议价、参考价或者生产商建议零售价,这些标签被在线零售商变着法子来使用,从而造成了人们对网购就等于特价的认识。无论是哪种说法,这都暗示着人们在别的地方付了更多的钱。

But with many products online, you could not pay the list price even if you wanted to. That is because hardly anyone is actually charging it. It is a sales tactic that is drawing legal scrutiny, as well as prompting questions about the integrity of e-commerce. If everyone is getting a deal, is anyone really getting a deal?

但是对许多网上的商品来说,即使你愿意按标价付款其实也是不可能的。因为实际上几乎没有任何人会以那样的价格去卖。这种销售策略不仅引起了人们对其合法性的审查,而且也引出了有关电子商务是否诚信的问题。如果表面上人人都买到便宜货,那么大家是否真的都得到便宜呢?

Here is one recent example of how retailers use list prices to motivate online buyers: Le Creuset’s iron-handle skillet, 11 ¾ inches wide and cherry in color.

这里我们举个最近的例子,看看零售商如何利用标价刺激网上买家:法国高端厨具品牌勒克鲁塞(Le Creuset)的铁柄煎锅,11¾英寸宽,樱桃色。

Amazon said late last week that it would knock $60 off the $260 list price to sell the skillet for $200. Sounds like a bargain, the sort of deal that has helped propel Amazon to over $100 billion in annual revenue.

上周晚些时候亚马逊说,它将在260美元的标价上少60美元,以200美元销售这款煎锅。这种听起来很像大甩卖的促销,为亚马逊一年带来了超过一千亿美元的收入。

Check around, though. The suggested price for the skillet at Williams-Sonoma.com is $285, but customers can buy it for $200. At AllModern.com, the list price is $250 but its sale price is $200. At CutleryandMore.com, the list price is $285 and the sale price is $200.

但是,我们再去其他店家看看。这种煎锅在Williams-Sonoma.com(烹饪用品零售商威廉姆斯-索诺玛官网)上的建议价为285美元,但是顾客可以用200美元买到。在AllModern.com(家居用品购物平台),标价是250美元,但其销售价格是200美元。在CutleryandMore.com(厨房用品购物网站),标价是285美元,但其销售价格是200美元。

An additional 15 or so online retailers — some hosted by Amazon, others on Google Shopping — charge $200. On Le Creuset’s own site, it sells the pan for $200.

另外15家左右的在线零售商——一些是在亚马逊上开店的,其余的是谷歌购物上的店家——卖价都是200美元。在勒克鲁塞公司的官网上,这款煎锅卖200美元。

“Everyone expects a deal on the web,” said Larry Compeau, a professor at Clarkson University who is an expert on pricing strategies. “Nobody wants to pay retail. Some sellers are now willing to deceive consumers to make the sale.”

“每个人都期望在网上买到便宜货,”克拉克森大学(Clarkson University)的定价策略专家拉里·肯姆博(Larry Compeau)说。“没有人想向线下零售商付钱买东西了。现在有些卖家想以欺骗顾客的手段来做成买卖。”

The use of list prices online is at the heart of a case in a California Court of Appeal. Overstock.com, a popular online merchant, was found liable in a lower court for using misleading reference prices to exaggerate potential customer savings. It was fined $6.8 million, twice the size of the next-largest penalty for false advertising in California.

网商使用标价促销的问题,成为加州上诉法院审理的一个案件的核心问题。沃库(Overstock.com)是专门销售品牌折扣商品的著名网店,一家下级法院判定它利用参考价格误导消费者,夸大了可能省下的金钱,必须担责。它被罚了680万美元,是加州虚假广告被处罚金的两倍。

In its appeal, Overstock said it followed “standard industry practices” to come up with its reference prices. Internet retailers including Wayfair, Walmart, Rakuten (formerly Buy.com), Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma employ list prices to varying degrees. Amazon, the biggest e-commerce player, uses them extensively and prominently.

沃库在上诉中说,它利用参考价格来促销是遵循“标准的行业惯例”。包括Wayfair(美国最大的家庭用品电商)、沃尔玛、乐天(原buy.com)、Crate & Barrel(美国本土家居品牌)和Williams-Sonoma(烹饪用品零售商威廉姆斯-索诺玛)在内的网上零售商,都在不同程度地使用标价促销。亚马逊作为最大的电商,在使用标价促销上显得极其广泛和突出。

If some Internet retailers have an expansive definition of list price, the Federal Trade Commission does not.

如果说一些网上零售商对标价促销的定义太过宽泛的话,联邦贸易委员会的定义则不然。

“To the extent that list or suggested retail prices do not in fact correspond to prices at which a substantial number of sales of the article in question are made, the advertisement of a reduction may mislead the consumer,” the Code of Federal Regulations states. The F.T.C. declined to comment.

联邦法规法典规定:“只要标价或建议零售价事实上不等于所涉商品在大量销售时的价格,则该降价广告就可能会误导消费者。”联邦贸易委员会拒绝就此做出评论。

“If you’re selling $15 pens for $7.50, but just about everybody else is also selling the pens for $7.50, then saying the list price is $15 is a lie,” said David C. Vladeck, the former director of the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “And if you’re doing this frequently, it’s a serious problem.”

“如果你以7.5美元销售15美元的钢笔,但是别的人也都是以7.5美元卖出,那就表明这个15美元的标价是在撒谎,”联邦贸易委员会消费者保护局前局长大卫·C·弗拉德克(David C. Vladeck)说。“而且,如果你经常这么干,问题就严重了。”

All of the retailers declined to be interviewed, as did Le Creuset. Amazon pointed to a disclosure on its website where it says the list price can have many origins: It can be the price on the product itself, it can be the price suggested by the manufacturer or supplier, or it can be Amazon’s guess as to what the list price should be. The retailer also said its list prices “may or may not” represent the prevailing price “in every area on any particular day.”

同勒克鲁塞公司一样,所有的零售商都拒绝接受采访。亚马逊在其网站上披露说,标价可以有多种定价基础:它可以是产品本身的价格,可以是由制造商或供应商建议的价格,这种标价或者也可以是亚马逊估计的。这家零售商还说,它的标价“可能是也可能不是”在任何特定日期的、任何一个地方的一般价格。

“The list price has become a meaningless piece of information,” said Mr. Compeau, who was an expert witness for the California district attorneys who brought the case against Overstock.

“标价已成为一个毫无意义的信息,”肯姆博先生说。在针对沃库的官司中,他是加州地方检察官的专家证人。

Meaningless, but useful. Even as the importance of a fixed list price has waned in the physical world, it has become more deeply embedded online.

毫无意义,却很管用。即使固定标价的重要性在现实世界中已经减弱,它在网上的根基却愈发深厚。

Retailers, as Amazon indicated, often are supplied with list prices by the manufacturer or the brand. “The manufacturer uses list price in an aspirational way — it’s what they wish they could charge,” said Victor Rosenman, the chief executive of Feedvisor, a start-up that helps e-commerce companies price competitively.

正如亚马逊指出的那样,零售商的标价通常是由制造商或品牌商提供的。创业公司Feedvisor的业务是帮助电商公司实施竞争性的价格策略。其首席执行官维克多·罗森曼(Victor Rosenman)说:“制造商以期望的方式使用标价,这种标价就等于他们希望他们(指零售商--译者注)可能销售的价格。”

“Then the retailer says to his customer, ‘The manufacturer recommended X, but I’m selling it at Y. It’s a better deal,’ ” Mr. Rosenman said. “As to how that price compares to anyone else, it’s your job as a consumer to figure out.”

“然后零售商就对他的顾客说,‘制造商建议我卖甲这个价,但我卖乙这个价。这更划得来,’”罗森曼说。“至于这个价格与其他家比起来怎样,这是你作为顾客需要去考虑的事。”

The Overstock case went to trial in late 2013. In one example cited by the district attorneys, a man bought a patio set from the retailer. It cost him $450, a discount of 55 percent from the list price of $999. The buyer was somewhat alarmed to find a Walmart price tag on his purchase for $247, a price he confirmed was the going retail price.

2013年底,沃库的案件进行了审判。在地区法官提到的一个案例里,有人从这家零售商买了一件庭院用的家具。他花了450美元,即999美元标价的45折。这个买家有些震惊地发现,他这件商品在沃尔玛的价格标签上却是247美元,经确认这就是当时的有效零售价。

Overstock said that was a simple error, but among the evidence presented during the trial were internal documents indicating that deals were not as good as they seemed. “Oh I think it’s been established that the ‘List Price’ is egregiously overstated,” one Overstock memo said. “This place has some balls.”

沃库说,这是一个简单的错误。但在审判期间提交的证据中包括一些内部文件,这些文件表明该促销价并不如它们看起来那么优惠。“哎呀,我认为这已证明这个‘标价’是过份夸张的,”沃库在一份备忘录说。“得有勇气承认这点。”

In another email, Overstock asked a supplier to increase its list price, presumably so the Overstock price would appear even cheaper by contrast. An internal Overstock survey revealed during the trial found that its reference prices were on average 15 percent higher than the highest price that could be found online.

在另一封电邮里,沃库要求供应商提高其标价。大概这样的话,沃库的价格就会显得更便宜。在庭审期间披露的一份沃库内部调查显示,这家网商的参考价格比可以在网上找到的最高价平均高出15%。

Overstock maintained to the appeals court that “injury to consumers was minimal” and said the $6.8 million in penalties was “grossly disproportionate.” A spokesman declined to comment.

沃库坚持对上诉法庭说:“这对顾客的伤害非常小”。它还认为680万美元的罚金“显然不合比例”。沃库的发言人拒绝对此做出评论。

In an earlier era, list prices were intended to prevent retailers from gouging customers — if $40 was printed on the box, a customer might flee if charged $60. Manufacturers also wanted to signal quality by discouraging deep discounting. They hoped retailers would stick to the printed price.

在早期时候,标价意在防止零售商对顾客的欺诈——如果盒子上印的是40美元,结果要价60美元,顾客就可能跑掉。制造商也想通过阻止深度打折来表明商品的质量好。他们希望零售商能坚持执行印在商品包装上的价格。

List or reference prices are still used as selling tactics in the physical world, and companies routinely are sued for abusing them. J. C. Penney, for instance, set aside $50 million in November to settle a class-action suit in which it was accused of tricking customers into thinking they were getting big discounts.

在现实中,标价或参考价仍然被用作销售策略,而且企业因滥用它们经常受到起诉。例如,彭尼百货(J.C.Penney)在11月拨出5000万美元,以解决一项集体诉讼。它被指控以欺骗的方式让顾客认为自己获得了很大的折扣。

But online, list prices are even more important.

但是在网上,标价的作用就更大了。

“Offline retailers need blowout sales to draw traffic due to the costs of visiting a store — driving, then parking, walking and searching,” said Rafi Mohammed, a consultant and author of “The 1% Windfall: How Successful Companies Use Price to Profit and Grow.” “Online retailers don’t use blowout sales since it’s so easy to shop there. But to provide confidence to consumers that they are consistently getting good deals, it’s even more important for them to provide price comparisons.”

“由于逛商店的成本不低——要开车去,然后又停车,走过去,还要到处找商品,所以线下零售商需要井喷式的销售来吸引客流,”咨询师及《1%的意外之财:成功的企业如何利用价格实现盈利与成长》一书的作者师拉夫·默罕默德(Rafi Mohammed)说。“鉴于购买的便利性,线上零售商不需要采用井喷式销售。但是为了向顾客提供信心,让他们觉得他们一直都能得到最好的优惠,所以向他们提供比价信息甚至更重要。”

After the Overstock suit, online pricing policies are coming under greater scrutiny.

在沃库的诉讼发生后,线上销售价格政策正在受到更大的检视。

Two customers sued Amazon in late 2014, saying its list prices violated false advertising laws by bearing no relation to the prevailing market prices. The case was dismissed after Amazon pointed out that its customers gave up their right to sue in favor of binding arbitration.

有两个顾客在2014年晚些时候起诉了亚马逊,称其标价与主流的市场价格毫无关联,因而违反了虚假广告法。因为亚马逊提出其顾客同意采用有约束力的仲裁方式解决争议而放弃诉讼权,该案随后被驳回了。

“This court may hope that Amazon would take every possible step to maximize consumers’ ability to make informed decisions,” United States District Judge Cynthia Bashant wrote in her decision. “The law of contracts, however, imposes less lofty expectations.”

“法庭希望,亚马逊能采取一切可能的步骤,来最大化地增强消费者作出明智决定的能力,”美国地方法院法官辛西亚·芭姗(Cynthia Bashant)在她的决议书中写道。“不过不应该给合同法强加过多的崇高的期望。”

Last month, a proposed class-action suit was filed against Wayfair in California asserting that the retailer falsely advertised discounts for items that it had never sold at a higher price. “The referenced former retail prices were fabricated,” the plaintiffs claimed. Wayfair declined to comment.

上个月,Wayfair在加州被提起了一宗集体诉讼,诉讼声称该零售商用广告虚假宣传一些商品的折扣,而实际上它从未以更高的价格卖过这些东西。原告断言:“作为参考的原来的零售价都是捏造的。”Wayfair对此拒绝做出评论。

One manufacturer, Cuisinart, acknowledged that list price had little meaning. Consider the Mini-Prep Plus Processor, displayed on its website for $40.

美国厨具制造商美膳雅(Cuisinart)承认,标价是没有什么意义的。请看以下实例:这款Mini-Prep加强型食物料理机在其官网上的展示价格是40美元。

Amazon says the list price is $75, but in recent weeks was charging $40. That was also roughly what Belk, Bed Bath & Beyond and Kitchen & Company charged. Amazon listed dozens of third-party merchants offering the product, usually from $40 to $50. The Cuisinart Webstore, a separate entity from Cuisinart, sold it for $40.

亚马逊说标价是75美元,但是近几周卖40美元。这也基本上就是Belk(美国中高端百货连锁店)、Bed Bath & Beyond(美国最大的出售高品质床上用品和家庭用品的连锁商店)和Kitchen & Company(美国的厨房用品商店)销售的价格。亚马逊上显示了几十家第三方商家售卖的该产品,价格通常从40美元至50美元。在独立于美膳雅营运的美膳雅网店(Cuisinart Webstore)上,其售价为40美元。

Mary Rodgers, a spokeswoman for Cuisinart, said the $75 list price was “the highest price you could actually see the product being sold for.” She said as far as she knew, no one was selling the processor for that price.

美膳雅发言人玛丽·罗杰斯(Mary Rodgers)说,这个75美元的标价是“你实际上能看到的这个商品最高的价。”她说,就她所知,没有人曾以那样的价格卖过这款食物加工机。

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