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Update: It appears to be some kind of horrific site bug that randomly displays prices from other countries without changing your display country until checkout. I'd still appreciate your assistance getting Lego's attention, but looks like nothing untoward is going on.

As a longtime user and promoter of LEGO toys and products, I've often tried to dispel the belief that LEGO products are overpriced. Compared to every other building toy with which I'm familiar, LEGO's tight manufacturing tolerances and overall quality of product should make for an easy sell. I often advise others on the general rule of thumb that LEGO sets should generally be priced around $0.10 per piece in the set, and I personally find this to be very reasonable.

So imagine my surprise when I hear from several sources that they are seeing LEGO sets priced at an additional 60% or more above that point. My first reaction was that they must be purchasing from disreputable sellers or that there is some other mix-up; and for peace of mind, I visited the LEGO Shop website myself, and verified that all of the prices I was seeing fell within a small margin of error of the aforementioned $0.10 / piece rule of thumb. However, after several further interchanges I discovered that the greatly inflated prices were also being displayed on the LEGO Shop website, and that they merely were not being displayed to me.

After further experimentation I managed to trigger the differential pricing in my own browser, and it appears to be cookie based, though -I-'-m- -n-o--t- -y-e-t- --s-u-r-e- -w--h-i-c-h- -c-o-o-k-i-e-s- -a--r-e- -u-s-e-d- -f-o-r- -p-r--o-f-i-l-i-n-g-,- -a-s- -I-'-m-- -n-o-t- -l-o-g-g-e-d- -i-n- -t-o- -t--h-e- -L-e-g-o- -s-i-t-e-- --- -b-u-t- -I- -s-u-s-p-e--c-t --t-h-a-t- -t-h-e-y-- -a-r-e- -A--d-o-b-e-/-O--m-n-i-t-u-r--e-'-s- -S-i-t-e-C-a--t-a-l-y-s-t- -c-o-o-k-i-e-s-,- -a--s- -S-i-t-e-C-a-t-a-l--y-st- -a-p-p-e-a--r-s- -t-o- -b-e- -t-h-e- -o-n-l-y- -e-x-t-e-r-n-a-l -s-c--r-i-p-t-s- -l-o-a-d-e-d-.


I have included several images as a reference to confirm these findings. -G-i-v-e-n- -t-h-e- -s-i-g-n-i-f-i-c--a-n-t- -t-i-m-e----l-a-g- -i-n- -t-h-e-s-e- -i--n-v-e-s-t-i-g-a-t-i-o-n-s-,- -i-t- --d-o-e-s- -n-o-t- -a-p-p-e-a-r- -t-h--a-t- -t-h-e-s-e- --a-r-e- -s-h-o-r-t----t-e-r-m- -e-x-p-e-r-i-m-e-n-t--s-,- -a-n-d- -I- -b-e-l-i-e-v-e- -t-h--e-y- -m-a-y- -b-e- -i-n- -v-i-o-l-a--t-i-o-n- -o-f- -R-o-b-i-n-s-o-n---P-a-t-m-a-n- -A-c-t- - (-a-s- -w-a-s- -t-h-e- -c-a-s-e- -w--i-t-h- -A-m-a-z-o-n- -n-e--a-r-l-y- -1-5- -y-e-a-r-s- -a-g-o- - -I- -w-o-u-l-d- -h--a-v-e- -t-h-o-u-g-h-t- -c-o-m-p-a-n--i-e-s- -w-o-u-l-d- --h-a-v-e- -l--e-a-r-n-e-d- -n-o-t- -t--r-y- -t-h-i-s- -s-t--u-f-f- -a-n-y-m-o-r-e-)-.


September 2013
Marked Up

markedup1 by elfprince13, on Flickr

markedup2 by elfprince13, on Flickr

Unmarked Up

unmarkedup1 by elfprince13, on Flickr

unmarkedup2 by elfprince13, on Flickr


unmarkedup3 by elfprince13, on Flickr

January 2014
Marked Up

markedup-rancor by elfprince13, on Flickr

Unmarked Up

unmarkedup-rancor by elfprince13, on Flickr

February 2014
Marked Up

markedup-swnew by elfprince13, on Flickr

Unmarked Up

unmarkedup-swnew by elfprince13, on Flickr


Side-by-Side

side-by-side by elfprince13, on Flickr

-I-n- -s-h-a-r-i-n-g- -t-h--i-s-,- -I- -d-o- -n-o-t- --w-i-s-h- -t-o- -d-a-m-a-g-e- --L-e-g-o- -a-s- -a- -c-o-m-p-a-n-y-,-- -b-e-c-a-u-s-e- -I- --l-o-v-e- -t-h-e-i-r- -p-r-o-d-u-c-t-s-.- -B-u-t- -I-- -d-o- -w-i-s-h- -t-o- -s-e-n-d- -a- -m-e-s-s-a--g-e- -t-h-a-t- -t-h-e-s-e- -a-c-t-i-o-n--s --ar-e-- u-n-e-t-h--i-c-a-l-,- -a-n-d- -p-r-e--v-e-n-t- -l-e-s------s---w-a-r-y- -c-o--n-s-u-m-e-r-s- -f-r-o-m- -b-e-i-n-g- -h-u-r-t- -b-y- -t-h-e--s-e- -s-a-m-e- -p-r-a-c-t-i-c--e-s-.

Any help you all can provide in publicizing this would be beneficial. I'll be tweeting to Lego's corporate account, retweets to get their attention would be in order if you have a Twitter account. If any of you have press contacts who could help, I'd appreciate that as well.

[edit]

It appears to be some kind of horrific site bug that randomly displays prices from other countries without changing your display country until checkout. I'd still appreciate your assistance getting Lego's attention, but looks like nothing untoward is going on.
Sorry for the double post, but I'm going to keep the first post clean of social media links. This second post I'll keep updated.

Retweet.

Reddit Upvote.

Facebook share.

Slashdot "+" it or whatever.
Could you take a look at the cookies/post them? It would be nice to see what they're doing. (Thanks KermM for the idea on Reddit.)
The .lego.112.2o7.net one is for SiteCatalyst, all the others are for the main Lego domains.

Code:
# Netscape HTTP Cookie File
# http://www.netscape.com/newsref/std/cookie_spec.html
# This is a generated file!  Do not edit.

.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   1407613835   cps   true
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   1543808973   LinkshareCookie   "Country=US&DateTimeEntered=20131203034932&SiteId=OOTtr9mlaCk-QKNr8IDNYXnpin5a8krJsg"
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   1396492553   fsr.r   %7B%22d%22%3A90%2C%22i%22%3A%22dd8f209-60412761-fe06-f4cc-f4530%22%2C%22e%22%3A1389321353165%7D
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   1398746560   country   AU
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   2145916800   atgRecVisitorId   1000jcWuy-oaYVxOd5GspKOmX8VpDk1BQqR36ruPprRzBFo70CE
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   1543808966   s_pers   %20s_ev17%3D%255B%255B%2527AFC-AffiliateUS%2527%252C%25271386042566743%2527%255D%255D%7C1543808966743%3B%20s_fid%3D7998F6A265D9D231-369FFC1C2C8AA041%7C1454565603839%3B%20c_dl%3D1%7C1391495403841%3B
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   0   s_sess   %20s_cc%3Dtrue%3B%20c_m%3DTyped%252FBookmarkedTyped%252FBookmarkedundefined%3B%20s_v22_persist%3DTyped%252FBookmarked%3B%20s_v23_persist%3Dn%252Fa%3B%20s_v24_persist%3Dn%252Fa%3B%20s_v25_persist%3DTyped%252FBookmarked%3B%20s_sq%3D%3B
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   0   NpsSurvey   A
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   1394085604   l-gfs-state   opened
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   0   L.S.1   d841bd76-b182-40ce-8e51-ec9ae1249fa9
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   0   L.S   d841bd76-b182-40ce-8e51-ec9ae1249fa9
.lego.com   TRUE   /   FALSE   2022645607   PROMARKETPREF   en-US
www.lego.com   FALSE   /   FALSE   0   www#lang   en-US
.lego.112.2o7.net   TRUE   /   FALSE   1454561609   s_vi   [CS]v1|294EA73405162249-600001A3200A6D7B[CE]
An astute Reddit observer says that the Feb 2014 marked-up image has cc=AU (Australia) in the URL. Any counter? Smile
Lots of people seem to think I'm in Australia.

Nonetheless.


Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 1.14.52 AM by elfprince13, on Flickr

[edit]

Hold on, if I go through the checkout process, it tells me I'm in Australia, even though the site header won't. There does appear to be a significant bug in their site design, but apparently nothing malicious.
KermMartian wrote:
An astute Reddit observer says that the Feb 2014 marked-up image has cc=AU (Australia) in the URL. Any counter? :)

Current exchange rate is 1 AUD = 0.87 USD. If anything, they should be less expensive. If it turns out this is a country code mis-match issue, it shows how much companies like to pick on Australians. And then they'd change on top of that $50/lbs shipping (10 lbs minimum).

You know, I have to wonder what happens if an Australian uses a proxy to order from an American IP address, and then just happens to pick a shipping address in Australian. Or may every Australian already knows to do this.
Yeah, it does appear to be a country-code mismatch. The weird thing is that it still shows the en-US user interface right up until checkout, and none of the several computers + browsers I've seen this happen to have shown signs of Aussie-hood beyond the pricing (nor would the users have cause to enable such settings).
This is a good thing that cookies are still not based on facial recognition connected to some database, else I bet that some sites might intentionally do similar things, but do nasty things such as charging lower prices to white people or vice-versa, for example.
  
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