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Amazon pushing Price Check app with controversial online discounts

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Amazon is offering customers up to three separate 5% discounts (capped at $5 each) on qualifying products for using the company's Price Check app on December 10th. The app encourages customers to share advertised in-store prices and location information, making some brick and mortar retailers upset.

Amazon Price Check App
Amazon Price Check App

Today, Amazon will pay you to buy from its store instead of your local brick and mortar — if you use the company's Price Check app to scan a barcode of a product, you can get a five-percent discount (up to $5) on each of three items today, for a total of $15 off $300 in purchases. It's not a very good deal, really, but it is an exciting and controversial move. You see, at the same time the app lets customers check Amazon prices, it encourages them to report advertised in-store prices and location information to the company.

That's not the only reason the promotion has some retailers upset, though — some say it unfairly encourages shoppers to check out items in stores and then buy online, using local outlets as a showroom without giving the physical businesses anything in return. The promotion isn't actually tied to physical locations, though, as you don't even have to leave your house — Amazon says that price submission and location confirmation are optional, but says it helps "ensure the best prices possible" for all customers. The promotion is probably intended to get people to use the Price Check app rather than the likes of ShopSavvy or Google Goggles. Whatever Amazon is doing with the information here, tying discounts to an app that asks customers to do price reconnaissance is a bold step. Just imagine a future where geofences are everywhere, and as soon as you walk into one store, your phone pings you about a hot discount at a competitor.