Booking a hotel on the app, gold membership is 211 yuan more expensive than ordinary membership

Reporter investigates big data killing phenomenon

  ■ Investigation motive

  Some netizens recently shared their ticket purchasing experience on a certain platform, which aroused widespread concern in the society - they used three accounts to buy the same flight and the same class of tickets, but the prices were different, with a difference of more than 900 yuan at most.

In response, the platform responded that it did not rule out errors in agent price placement or accounts receiving large coupons.

  In recent years, big data fraud has occurred from time to time, seriously infringing on the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.

As the Spring Festival in 2024 approaches, travel and tourism will reach their peak. People will use online platforms more frequently to purchase tickets, book tickets, book hotels, etc., and are paying special attention to whether the platform has big data capabilities.

  Does the phenomenon of big data killing familiarity still exist today?

What kind of situation is considered mature for big data?

How to rectify big data abuse?

With questions, the reporter conducted an investigative interview.

  □ Our reporter Zhao Li

  □ Wen Xuchen, an intern of this newspaper

  The price displayed by the gold member account is 2,910 yuan per night, and the price displayed by the ordinary member account is 2,699 yuan per night... This is a reporter from the "Rule of Law Daily" who recently used two accounts to search for the same resort hotel in Sanya on an App. Price for the same room type at the same time.

No coupons have been used on either account.

  Subsequently, the reporter called the travel app customer service about this issue, and the other party replied that this was because the platform would give certain discounts to newly registered users.

However, the reporter found that this preferential policy is not transparent. In the fee details, there is only the total price that users need to pay, and there is no detailed preferential explanation.

  In further communication with the above-mentioned customer service, the other party explained that the platform directly displays the discounted price. If there are superimposed coupons, they will be displayed in the details. If not, the final price will be displayed according to the membership level.

  Is this big data maturity or differentiated marketing?

  Many industry experts said in interviews with reporters that consumers are naturally at a disadvantage in the face of big data and face difficulties in identifying, proving, and safeguarding their rights.

Due to the immediacy, concealment, ambiguity and complexity of big data, it is urgent to further improve relevant laws and regulations and innovate supervision methods to solve this problem. It is recommended that regulatory authorities evaluate and evaluate the data use rules of Internet platforms. Monitor and strictly enforce rectifications on platforms that engage in big data killing behavior.

  The lower the grade, the lower the price.

  Customer service response is unclear

  A netizen in Zhengzhou, Henan recently broke the news that when booking a flight on a certain platform, he found that he used 3 mobile phones to watch the same flight at the same time, and the prices were different, and the difference was huge - he searched for China Southern Airlines CZ6489 from Zhengzhou to Zhuhai on February 7. During the flight, the prices displayed on the three mobile phones were 400 yuan, 481 yuan, and 1,330 yuan respectively.

  In the comment area, some netizens suspected that the price may be related to the model of the mobile phone, while others said that the more tickets you book, the more expensive it will be.

The platform customer service responded that the random discounts for each passenger are different and are not familiar to the platform. It is recommended to use different accounts of family and friends to compare and choose the cheapest one to place an order.

  Similar experiences are not uncommon.

  "Outrageous!" Lin Ya (pseudonym), a Beijing resident, commented on the results of a flight ticket search in early January this year.

She logged into two different accounts of a certain App within one minute. At the same time, same location, and same flight, the prices displayed on the two accounts were 930 yuan and 600 yuan respectively. “The one with 930 yuan is a commonly used high-level account. , the 600 yuan account is a low-level account but not a newly registered account."

  Lin Ya said that she immediately called customer service, and the other party said that it was caused by network fluctuations, system abnormalities, or equipment differences.

Lin Ya couldn't accept this explanation.

  On January 21, a reporter tried to use two mobile phones to check the price of air tickets from Hangzhou to Kunming on a certain platform.

Through comparison, it was found that if you use two different ID cards to purchase air tickets at the same time and on the same flight, the price will differ by 5 yuan to 10 yuan. Among them, the price of a higher-level account is higher than that of a newly registered account.

  In response, the platform customer service replied that since the ticket prices belong to different airlines and are posted on the platform, and the airline sales adopt a nationwide online order-and-sell model, it is normal for the ticket prices to change according to market sales.

Customer service said that the reason for the different final prices was the use of "surprise specials", which are preferential policies randomly placed on the platform.

  The reporter further asked, what is the basis for the random delivery of the system?

Customer service said that all users may receive special discounts.

In addition, the platform will accumulate miles based on the products purchased by users, thereby upgrading the user's membership level, and the user can redeem coupons or benefits corresponding to the level.

The higher the level, the more benefits can be redeemed, regardless of the price.

  The reporter searched in three other travel platforms, set the departure point to Hangzhou, and used the old and new accounts to search for air tickets at the same time and destination. By comparing the prices of the same flight, it was found that the prices on these three platforms were the same. It shows that the price for new users of some flight segments is lower than that of old users, with the price difference ranging from 5 yuan to 10 yuan.

  "Big data killing of familiarity is a serious breach of trust, which is not in line with ethical requirements, but also violates legal requirements." Liu Junhai, a professor at the Law School of Renmin University of China, believes that the "familiarity" between consumers and online platforms is "user stickiness." Consumers use platforms based on trust and no longer shop around; in order to maximize profits, platform companies offer relatively high prices to familiar customers and even discriminatory treatment, which is a typical dishonest behavior.

  There are multiple killing modes

  Violate the legitimate rights and interests of the masses

  In recent years, doubts about the maturity of big data on the platform have been heard endlessly and have become the focus of heated public discussion.

The reporter searched for "big data killing familiarity" on a third-party complaint platform, which showed more than 6,000 complaints.

  A scholar once conducted a survey on online car-hailing and concluded that it is more expensive for "acquaintances" to take a taxi than for "newcomers"; the more people who take taxis, the more expensive the taxi fare is; the more expensive the mobile phone, the easier it is for more expensive models to take orders...

  Ms. Chen from Chongqing told reporters that she discovered the problem of "different prices in the same place at the same time" on online car-hailing platforms when she and her classmates were carpooling during her internship.

"There are four of us in one car, and every day we use four different online taxi service platforms to take taxis. Whoever offers the lowest price will take a taxi. If a classmate is using this platform to take a taxi for the first time, The prices shown above are basically several yuan cheaper than some of our old users.”

  According to public reports, in recent years, many large Internet companies, ranging from travel, e-commerce, taxi hailing to food delivery, have been exposed to using big data analysis to conduct differential pricing for different groups.

  Some netizens reported encountering big data abuse on e-commerce platforms: when purchasing home appliances, prices for non-members were lower than for members, and coupons with lower discounts were given to accounts that were not commonly used.

  The Beijing Sunshine Consumer Big Data Research Institute has sorted out 8 forms of big data maturity through public opinion monitoring methods, which are: different discount information for new and old users; advertising alliances share user data; provide specific services based on user characteristics; price after multiple views Automatically increase; encounter "fancy" purchase urges during the browsing process; old users have higher prices than new users; products purchased before are selected by default; coupons are given when not consuming, but not when consuming.

  According to a previous survey report released by the Beijing Consumers Association, 61.21% of the respondents believe that big data maturity is mainly reflected in the different discounts or benefits enjoyed by different users, 45.76% of the respondents believe that it is reflected in the automatic increase in prices after multiple browsing, 36.92 % of the respondents believe that it is reflected in different prices for different users at the same time.

  Chen Yinjiang, deputy secretary-general of the China Consumer Rights Protection Law Research Association, told reporters that on the surface, big data marketing means that e-commerce operators use big data technology to push specific goods or services based on consumers’ consumption preferences or habits. Or in order to "acquire customers" or "attract new customers", they may promote preferential marketing strategies that harm the legitimate rights and interests of other consumers by targeting newcomers or special groups.

From a deeper perspective, the use of big data actually reflects the excessive collection and arbitrary use of consumers’ personal information by some e-commerce operators, which in the process of e-commerce transactions has led to the loss of consumers’ rights to know, choose, and fair trade. The right to protection of personal information is not respected and equally guaranteed.

  It is difficult to determine whether it is cooked or not

  Various factors need to be weighed

  In recent years, many platforms have been questioned about the use of big data. As various departments attach importance to the protection of consumer rights and interests, relevant regulations and laws have also been introduced one after another.

But in reality, almost no platform admits the existence of big data killing behavior.

For example, some platforms claim that this is not a big data acquisition, but differentiated marketing for different users.

  Chen Kai (pseudonym), who once worked in marketing for a large shopping website, told reporters that the common methods of big data acquisition include using big data for "user profiling", achieving familiarity through geographical location information, and through users and mobile applications. The behavioral details of interaction are realized and matured, etc.

  "This is the most common way to achieve familiarity based on the user's income level and consumption habits. Another way is that merchants can use the behavioral details of the user's interaction with the application, such as the frequency of typing information, search keywords, etc., to a certain extent. Reflecting the urgency of users' demand for goods or services at this point in time, some merchants will make dynamic floating price increases based on this information." Chen Kai said that some merchants will also collect users' geographical location information through the mobile application background and perform real-time analysis. If there are few potential competitors near the user's location, a certain price increase will be made.

In addition, geographical location information such as the user's residential address, office location, and frequent consumption places can also be used to determine the user's income level and spending power, making the "user portrait" more accurate.

  In this regard, Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center of the International Joint Business School of Zhejiang University, mentioned that to determine whether it constitutes big data exploitation, it is necessary to determine whether the platform treats the counterparty of the transaction differently in terms of price, and to determine whether the transaction Whether the relative persons are "in the same condition".

But the actual situation is that consumers lack the necessary technical conditions and have difficulty identifying whether merchants are engaging in big data-killing behavior.

Most of the current big data cases are in the questioning stage, and even lawsuits are difficult to achieve results.

  According to Chen Yinjiang, the main reason for this difference is that there is currently no clear legal definition of big data processing, and the concept is vague and subjective.

For example, companies think it is to accurately push products or services that are more suitable for consumers, or to use "customer acquisition" marketing such as red envelopes for newcomers, exclusive newcomers or newcomer discounts.

Consumers believe that when purchasing the same goods or services on the same platform at the same time, it is unfair if the actual transaction prices are different, which is a sign of big data overkill.

  He told reporters that at present, it can be determined from two aspects whether an enterprise constitutes a big data expert.

The first is differentiated push, that is, companies use big data technology to form accurate "user portraits" based on user characteristics, and only push information or products that match their characteristics to users; the second is obvious price discrimination, but it needs to be seen Whether it has a fair and reasonable basis does not mean that the transaction price is different or that big data is familiar. It also includes the measurement of various complex factors such as whether there are normal marketing regulations of the company.

  Make it clear who is in charge and how

  Increase the cost of illegal activities for enterprises

  Analysts from industry experts believe that the problem of big data maturity on Internet platforms has been repeatedly suppressed. First, it is difficult for consumers to detect due to the concealment of algorithms and the relative leadership of its technology. Second, after leading platforms gain market advantages through "burning money", It needs to be "harvested" to realize its capital gains as quickly as possible.

  Some practitioners also believe that one-size-fits-all approach should not be taken when dealing with big data familiarity issues, and normal business behaviors such as promotions should be treated correctly, focusing on whether differentiated services and prices are provided based on consumer identity, and differential pricing of services based on user identity. , there is subjective intention.

  In order to control the phenomenon of big data deprivation, the interviewed experts believe that a two-pronged approach should be adopted to refine the responsibilities and restraint measures from both the enterprise and regulatory authorities.

  Chen Yinjiang believes that companies should use big data technology reasonably and cannot use big data technology to damage consumers' rights to know, choose and fair trade.

  "Specifically, first of all, companies must collect and use consumers' personal information in accordance with the law; secondly, companies can provide goods or services in a more targeted manner based on consumers' interests, hobbies, consumption habits and other characteristics, but at the same time, they must be not completely targeted. Its characteristic options are for consumers to choose." Chen Yinjiang said that enterprises can formulate marketing rules such as "attracting new customers" and "acquiring customers" according to their own development needs, but these rules must be fair and reasonable, and must be open and transparent. .

In terms of transaction rules, e-commerce operators should disclose product or service information comprehensively, truthfully, accurately, and timely to protect consumers' rights to know and choose.

  In Liu Junhai’s view, the issue of big data acquaintance involves a wide range of things and there are many clues. On the one hand, it is necessary to clarify “who is in charge”. The national market supervision department can be considered as the main supervision department, taking the lead in organizing commerce, industry and information technology, and Internet. Relevant ministries and commissions such as IT, Culture and Tourism should work together to form a joint regulatory force and eliminate regulatory blind spots; on the other hand, it is necessary to clarify "how to manage", introduce external sanctions and restraint mechanisms, severely punish untrustworthy behavior, and increase the cost of corporate violations; at the same time, large-scale measures should be used to Data analysis technology can automatically detect and warn against mature killings to improve the efficiency and intensity of law enforcement.

  Due to the immediacy, concealment, ambiguity and complexity of big data fraud, it is difficult for consumers to discover and provide evidence to protect their rights, and it is also difficult for regulatory authorities to verify and punish.

Chen Yinjiang suggested from the perspective of consumers: "Consumers should look at this issue objectively and rationally. If it is found that there are obvious differentiated push, obvious price discrimination, excessive collection and use of personal information, etc., then consumers should Protect your legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law and regulations.”

  "For new users and lost old users, most platforms will have targeted recruitment and recall strategies. For some platforms, you can uninstall them for a period of time and then reinstall them. The platform will also have some preferential measures for price-sensitive people. "Chen Kai said that if users frequently receive coupons on the platform, they are likely to be judged as "price sensitive" by big data, and the platform will also issue more discounts to them.

  "In short, big data familiarity is a price strategy based on 'user portraits', geographical location information, consumption frequency, purchase history and other factors." Chen Kai said that as consumers, we must remain vigilant and rational, and understand our own rights and interests. and business obligations.

At the same time, regulatory authorities should also strengthen supervision and regulation to protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.