f.lapo.it

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Today was ... interesting. If you followed me for the past months over on the shitbird site, you might have seen a bunch of angry German words, lots of graphs, and the occassional news paper, radio, or TV snippet with yours truely. Let me explain.

In Austria, inflation is way above the EU average. There's no end in sight. This is especially true for basic needs like energy and food.

Our government stated in May that they'd build a food price database together with the big grocery chains. But..

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Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

the responsible minister claimed it's an immense task and will take til autumn. It will only include 16 product categories (think flour, milk,etc.). And it will only be updated once a week.

Given how Austria works, some corp close to the minister would have gotten the contract for a million on two to create a POS just enough so the minister can say "look, I did something!"

Well. I heard that and build a prototype for all products of the two biggest chains in 2 hours. The media picked it up...

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Here's a selection of media coverage of the entire thing.

https://heisse-preise.io/media.html

It spread like wild fire and made the minister look like an idiot.

I took the thing down in fear of retaliation by the grocery chains. My plan: get a big NGO, news outlet or political party to host the thing and be a legal shield for the endevour.

Almost every NGO, media outlet and political party got in contzct with me (not the other way around). There were lots of promises and big words but zero action.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

All these orgs only had their self-interest in mind. After two weeks of this bullshit, I figured I might as well gamble and put this thing up in my own name.

Surely the grocery chains won't sue me. The bad PR would easily outweigh whatever little inckme loss they'd suffer from a few hundred people using the site to find the cheapest product.

You see, I'm basically just crawling the stores online stores. Most of them have an API. I then normalize the data across the stores, and expose it.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

The whole thing runs client-site. The server fetches the latest data from the stores once a day. All data fits into 5mb of gzipped JSON. Small enough for the client to do anything. The server just serves 8 static files. It can handle serve all of Austria easily and could be scaled trivially. It's just static files.

Being the idiot I am, I also made it open-source:
https://github.com/badlogic/heissepreise

And as usual, people flocked to it and contributed. In no time we had all stores in Austria in there.

This entry was edited (5 months ago)
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Then we also got German and Slovenian stores. Then we normalized product categories across stores and added some light data science techniques to match the same or similar products across stores to make prices more easily comparable. You know, iterative improvements.

And then some anomymous guy in Twitter send me the data he crawled for the two biggest chains. Starting in 2017. And that's when thinga really got interesting...

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

I scrambled to integrate his data into my platform. I added analytics tools. And then I ran my first few analyses. And my jaw dropped.

"Well, that's a bit to much of a price increase even given higher energy prices."

So I started to dig. And boy did I find a lot of things...

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Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

My first analysis actually happened before I build the platform. I was manually comparing prices of products the stores themselves offer in the lowest price segment. Things like grocer store brand milk or flour.

I compared 40 product pairs across the two biggest chains. And lo and behold: their prices matched exactly to the cent!

An NGO picked this up on Twitter and did the analysis for 600 product pairs. Same picture.

With my platform in place, I could do more advanced stuff.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

E.g. given the historical data, I could see price movements for a product across the two chains. And you won't believe what I found (well, you know what's coming...)

Them fine grocery chains changed the prices of the self-branded low cost products with one to two days, or even on the same day. And they both came up with the exact same price.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

This wasn't only happening in the low-price chain-brand segment. It also happened in the mid-range segment of self-branded goods.

And it all started happening when inflation went through the roof.

Clearly, something was up. My guess was: tacit collusion, meaning, oligopolic price coordination without explicit coordination.

Meanwhile, others have build platforms like I did as well. And they too saw these patterns.

There were more.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

We could show shrinkflation, meaning products with less content are sold for the same or even higher price.

Examplified by e.g. laundry detergent.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
We could also show that the exact same product cost up to 40% less in Germany, a country with higher mean income and higher cost of living.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Even more interestingly, products exclusively produced in Austria cost less outside of Austria.

Billa is the Austrian version of REWEDE.

Even fucking Red Bull, an Austrian brand, costs more in Austria when it is discounted here, than it costs normally without discount in Germany.

WTF.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Then I looked at an aspect pretty unique to Austria: discounts.

You see, in a normal country, with a competitive grocery market, you usually have about 10%-20% of products that get discounted on average.

In Austria, that rate is 40%. It's a fantastic way to obfuscate the actual price of a product. As a customer, you'll never know what you'll pay on that day until you see the current discounts directly in the store.

The chains are very generous and will send you discount leaflets via mail.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

If I were trying to describe it in more flowerly terms: It's asymmetric information war fare.

The stores tell you they are good and benevolent and only have your interest at heart, so here are discounts. Discounts for everyone. They even gamified the whole thing with stickers. I shit you not. People collect stickers they put on the products in the convery belt at the register. There's also apps, which will give them all info on you

In reality it makes it impossible to know how much things cost

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
Given the historical data I had, I was able to also check for patterns in the discounts they give. How often, how high.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

The grocery chains got a little iffy about all that somewhat negative media coverage, some of which was spurred by my continued analyses.

They started to put out these things in the store. It basically says "We've already lowered the prices of 450 products for you this year". With a sortiment of 22000.

They were also dumb enough to put out a machine readable PDF with all the products they lowered the price for.

With a little data science magic, I was able to match those with my database...

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

The spot check showed that their claims were true on the surface.

But I'm a stickler for data, so I looked a bit closer.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

And lo and behold. There was fun to be had.

There are products that are cyclic in their price changes. E.g. this axe shower gel, which they listed as having a lower price now.

Yeah, you lowered the price from 3.99 to 2.99. But that follows the exact pattern this product's price had over the last couple of years.

Technically correct. But not a permanent price decrease.

Second picture is another example of that.

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Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

But there's a more "nefarious" kind of price decrease.

As I said, Austria is a country of insane amounts of cyclic discounts. Many products will be sold for their "regular" price for one week and a discount price the other.

The real price for the consumer is the average of the regular and discounted price.

Given this knowledge, do you notice something with the prices for this product the grocery chain claims to have decreased the regular price on?

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Of course you do, cause you are a smart cookie.

While their claim that they decreased the regular price is correct, they also increased the discounted price that comes into play every other X weeks/days.

So they are again technically correct: the regular price was decreased.

But on average, a consumer pays more if they buy the product every week, as the discounted price has been increased. The average is higher than before.

Sneaky.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

All that media coverage of my platform and the platforms of other people, with whom I've started to converse and who've became friends of sorts, triggered the competition authority of Austria.

You know, the guys and gals who's job it is to sniff out anti-competitive behaviour, cartels, price gauging and coordination and so on.

They contacted all of us to ask what we'd need to continue doing our work. They actually saw value in that.

We provided them with a shit ton of feedback.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

The basic gist of that feedback:
- Legal: it must be legal for us to crawl and publish the price data the stores put out on the web in their online stores
- Technical: ideally, stores would be forced to put that data out in a normalized form, so matching and comparisons become easier. We already did that ourselves though, with some data science and heuristics, so no biggie if that doesn't happen.

Besides that feedback, I also send them a shitton of data and patterns I found.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

I'm but a lowly computer nerd and lay person, and not someone with an economics degree. I simply handed the data over in the hopes their experts would figure this shit out.

Well. Today they presented their first preliminary report.

In it, they basically copied my long ass email with answers to their questions from earlier more or less verbatim. They agreed with my conclusions regarding what needs to be done on the legal and technical site.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

And they also officially said it's very likely the grocery chains use automated systems to follow each other in prices.

No word on the other data. We'll find out what they think end of October when the full report is scheduled to be released.

Now, here's how the chain of command works in this sector.

The competition authority is apolitical but under the reign of the politically appointed minister of economics. They can only report and suggest to him.

He then decides what gets done.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

The suggestion by the competition authority to the minister was great:

1. Using the data should be made legal by the legislature for certain parties, including price comparison platforms and academic institutions.
2. Grocery chains of a certain size must publish all their data in real-time according to a predefined scheme with all necessary meta data to make things comparable and allow matching of products across stores.

Fantastic! Or so I thought.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Remember the chain of command. The minister decides what actually gets done.

And that minister is a member of the conservative party. You can already guess what gets done, right?

His plan:
1. The grocery chains must publish data. But only for a hand-picked list of basic products. Not the entire sortiment, like we do now.
2. Platform owners can be sanctioned/sued if they display the data the wrong way.

There's are only two up-sides in all of this.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

First of all, the minister initially planned to create a price comparison platform "himself". This would have meant that some company he's buddy buddy with would have gotten a million Euro contract and delivered an abmysal failure of a system.

He's now given up on that.

The second upside: as soon as media coverage of our efforts picked up, the price hikes stopped for the most part. I'm obviously not entirely attributing this to our work. But I like to think we played a part in it.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
And that was my story. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. And don't spend your holiday money in Austria, we suck.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

I don't have a sound cloud, but I have another little project.

https://cards-for-ukraine.at/

We have a charity where we ask for donations which we convert into €50 grocery vouchers for Ukrainian families that fled to Austria. Our state fails them as well.

We are zero overhead, every cent goes towards the vouchers. We pay the rest (envelops, stamps, printer cartridges, etc.)

We are 100% transparent, all contracts/orders/bills/payments here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1PxOL8A44bIRU1Hdoq87_2iXSLNmnMXQr?usp=drive_link

Bunch of friends doing stuff.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Yeah, the irony of sending grocery vouchers for the same grocery stores that I go up against with my platform is not lost on me.

Anyways, we've been able to send out ~4500 vouchers in a bit over a year to as many families. That's about €220,000 worth of donations.

~6000 families have signed up with us, about 1500 are still waiting for a voucher.

If you can spare some money, here you go:
https://cards-for-ukraine.at/donate

The latest batch went out today. CW link to shitbird site

https://twitter.com/badlogicgames/status/1702670312981049561

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Oh, and if you want to do this for your own country, you can re-use what we build so far!

https://github.com/badlogic/heissepreise

Happy to help if you need guidance! Adding a store is usually less than 200 LOC if they have a search API in their web store.

https://github.com/badlogic/heissepreise/blob/main/stores/billa.js

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
(No the code isn't great, and I should have used TypeScript. I didn't plan for this to become a thing. I'm sorry)

Wow .. what a read. Do you know about Project Galileo to help you out protecting the site/servers/... ?

https://www.cloudflare.com/galileo/

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@iworx no need for protection. The thing is easily self-hosted. Can even deploy it as a GitHub site, with a daily workflow run scraping the data.
ah. Assumed because you mentioned repercussions.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@iworx the repurcissions would come in form of a law suit, in which case hosting would be the least of my problems :)
Eivind mastodon (AP)
Thanks for a great thread and great work!

you have absolutely no reason to apologize. You did the work. You potentially changed the lives of thousands or even millions of people for the better.

You did good and you deserve nothing but praise, regardless of code quality.

BRB, forking it to rewrite in typescript. ;)

Edoardo mastodon (AP)
awesome work and writeup!
Lulu Powerful mastodon (AP)

Your whole story is amazing. Everyone should read this!

If I can do just a fraction of what you have done for your fellow humans, I'll feel that I've lived a useful life. That's the aim. :)

don’t worry about not using the hip language of the day: there’s beauty in having a quick prototype that is good enough to solve a huge societal problem.
Diabetic Heihachi mastodon (AP)
Wow, amazing work! This needs to propagate globally. Imagine seeing what patterns of greed and engineered poverty occur on global analytics...
Diabetic Heihachi mastodon (AP)
Might help piss enough people off to actually make a difference.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

I'm all for that. That's why this is OSS and easy to self-host. Adding a new store is usually less than 200 LOC (code quality is terrible tho :D)

https://github.com/badlogic/heissepreise

Don't underestimate the power of filing issues against your own github for areas of the code that you think would benefit the most from getting cleaned up. That'll help contributors focus their efforts.
Dominik Dammer mastodon (AP)
@DavBot well i bet my inflation affected 2 german cents that rewe (and others) are doing the exact same thing here in germany and anywhere else

This is amazing. Thank you for doing this!

I believe a lot of supermarkets here (in BE) have API's... hmmmz.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@jan do it. Reuse our code to bootstrap.
🌈 Andrew ☄️ mastodon (AP)
would you recommend other countries add stores to your codebase through a PR, or should it be a fork and entirely seperate system? I suppose ideally it could all be in one place to aggregate resources and minimise the setup costs
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@bnut honestly not sure. I think for now it's best to fork then send a PR for the README with a link to the country specific fork.
🌈 Andrew ☄️ mastodon (AP)
cool, thanks. Do you have a preferred library for i18n? I don’t really do web dev, but thought allowing it to be translated might be useful for further adoption
Using technology for good! And mutual aid made easy.
Allan Wolfe mastodon (AP)
To me, this is #solarpunk af.
Richard Kogelnig mastodon (AP)
I was reading the whole thing hoping against better knowledge that it will have a good ending ...
Richard Kogelnig mastodon (AP)
But from lived experience: The grass seems greener on the other side. E.g. Housing inflation being through the roof (ha!) here in Ireland. Toothless regulations with price increase limits - which GASP are not checked and surprise surprise are not working. etc - but moving back will most likely not be an option with the coming disaster of the 2024 election
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@RichardKogelnig oh, I'm under no illusion that it's "better" anywhere else. All things considered, Austria is still a pretty good place for someone with my background. As long as I don't follow Austrian politics that is...
chico mastodon (AP)
This thread is solid gold.
Otimsis mastodon (AP)

Thanks for your incredible job.

I wish more people where educated to act like you! You are doing such an important job!

Keep it up, you have all my support!

Snifffe mastodon (AP)
sad but true
yaygya mastodon (AP)
wow, Austria really is the Canada to Germany’s USA.
K. P. Badertscher mastodon (AP)
What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing. I wish someone with the skills would do this for US stores to demonstrate what is really happening to ordinary people in the US economy.
First tech thread that I understood easily, thank you for the good explanations! And: woah! 🔥
Shannon Clark mastodon (AP)
I wonder if one source of the collusion is from the suppliers to the grocery stores? Ie presumably they aren’t each buying directly from every manufacturer or contracting directly with their own factories for store brands. Instead I would assume there are a handful of larger distributors and larger white-label companies that make most of the grocery store house brands (in the US at least these are sometimes rumored to be the same companies that make some big brands)
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@Rycaut exactly right, that is one source in play here. Funnily enough, many of these producers also sell their own "high-end" products right next to the store-branded supposedly lower end products. Often, the quality is the same though. Let's the, serve different price segments, with the stores getting a cut on the lower end.
Shannon Clark mastodon (AP)
look at my old employer Quotient (formerly coupons.com) not sure how much of the data they make available but one of the products I worked on for them touches the majority of grocery stores in the US at every point of sale transaction (delivering digital coupons for their customer based on the items in the transaction). The scale was insane (and this was years ago - I assume the scale has grown considerably since I was there) but normalizing PoS receipts is quite complex
MoiraEve mastodon (AP)
No, no! One must see Austria.
Paul mastodon (AP)

Thank you for sharing this great story!

I would love to host one talk about it at @fosdem conference in the room I co-organize about Open Research @FosdemResearch in Brussels Feb the 3rd 2024 or online Feb the 10th 2024.

We organize this session to discuss how research (of any kind: acamedic, activism...) is shaped by #FLOSS or #opendata development or use.

Please consider joining us and feel free to contact me if needed.

All details here: https://research-fosdem.github.io/

Karen mastodon (AP)
holy shit. This is AMAZING.
Shannon Clark mastodon (AP)

also in the US there is a rather nefarious pricing scheme that happens at some big stores - where prices for the same products vary from physical store to physical store of the same chain. (And prices for many products will differ when priced for delivery whether same day or by mail from the in store prices. Which makes looking at their websites or apps for prices even less reliable.

(And some companies do things like send you a discount if you merely open their website once)

Rob van Bakel mastodon (AP)
I hope this becomes an EU-law

did you see the report by the IMF (yes, the Internationale Währungsfond) that half the inflation was caused by company profits? https://www.draketo.de/politik/kommentare#inflation-unternehmensgewinne-iwf
https://www.imf.org/en/Blogs/Articles/2023/06/26/europes-inflation-outlook-depends-on-how-corporate-profits-absorb-wage-gains

It’s crazy that that story didn’t already get people riled up, but it seems they have to see *how* it happens and get a news anchor (2 hours vs. 2 months) to find it, and you showed that beautifully!

no it's not ideal to force stores to do something. there's no market failure there.
Morre mastodon (AP)

Why and how should it be illegal to crawl that data?

Before I read this toot, I wouldn't have worried about this in the slightest.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@morre terms of services of online stores.
Johannes Rudolph mastodon (AP)
It's probably even worse, because people have obviously picked up on the practice of only buying at discounted prices, so the real average price will be biased towards the discounted price. Also, this whole practice seems like a play against price-sensitive customers where the price sensitivity does not lead to more pressure for competition but the impression of cheap prices (via frequent discounts) is enough to get people into your shop.
tsungi mastodon (AP)
trick with shifting baseline
Comrade elronxenu mastodon (AP)

In Australia, Coles does this.

It's yet another advantage rich people have over the poor: I pay less for my groceries because I can buy them when they're discounted before I need them, and ignore them when they are not discounted.

Confusopoly. Why compete on price where costs scale per unit sold when they can obfuscate the price and compete on marketing, where costs don't?
Benedek Kozma mastodon (AP)
In Hungary, in LIDL, you also have to activate the coupon in the mobile app and then read the loyalty card at the cashier to get the lower price. There used to be a sign for the discounts in the store but IIRC the last time the store only displayed the higher price and you only knew about the discounts from the app.
keplerniko mastodon (AP)

Insight and frustrating data for me - as here in Lithuania, Red Bull is normally €1.49 (and of course discounts drop it a bit), so pricing probably resembles the Austria, rather than Germany, graph. I have a strong suspicion there is also supermarket collusion here (there are only three bigger supermarkets + Lidl), but I’ve not actually done much data analysis to confirm my theory.

Lidl definitely does the non-standard product sizes - I compared Lithuanian water bottles from there vs. normal shops where they were a tiny bit more expensive, and realised that the bottle I thought was 2L (from the normal store) was 1.8L at Lidl and the same or more expensive by volume!

Gudrun mastodon (AP)
What is the effect of local tax?
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@gudrun hardly any, it's a 1-3% difference in tax iirc.
Gudrun mastodon (AP)
Thank you. Between Germany and Austria it seems there is a difference of 3% in VAT on basic food items.
murks mastodon (AP)

Regarding comparisons across countries you need to be a bit careful because the listed prices include VAT and that is different in different countries. AFAIK Germany has a significantly different VAT for beverages, for example.

In any case, thanks for your great work. I hope that exposing this cartel will have some serious consequences.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@murks the VAT rates of Germany and Austria are indeed different, but not by 40%.
murks mastodon (AP)

You are right, certainly not by that amount. It seem that Germany has 19% VAT for beverages compared to 20% in Austria, so not significant.
They have only 7% for some articles like food and we have 10%. Apparently we also have 13% for some articles it seems.
So yeah, you were right about roughly 1-3% difference.

I wonder whether the German "Dosenpfand" plays a role in the Redbull comparison, but I have no idea how that works.

What is for certain is that the Oligopoli is a problem.

Henrik Pauli mastodon (AP)

I just saw news about Carrefour warning its customers about products showing shrinkflation: https://boingboing.net/2023/09/15/french-supermarket-chain-carrefour-puts-shrinkflation-warnings-on-price-gouging-brands.html

That's a pretty unusual move from a supermarket chain

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Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@phl it's a way to bring producers of goods in line.
Henrik Pauli mastodon (AP)
Certainly, I just didn't expect such an entity act on it
pandora mastodon (AP)
@yawnbox the price hikes the achieve with this method is sometimes crazy… some products are 40%+ more expensive
Jesus Margar mastodon (AP)
or, ahem, UK university degrees.
Empiricism mastodon (AP)

@LordCaramac

The amount of plastic used looks the same. Haven't manufacturers heard that plastic has contaminated every environment on Earth?

Of course, they have. But...

Gudrun mastodon (AP)
This is very similiar in Germany. All basic, non-name products cost the same, at Lidl, Aldi, Rewe etc.
John Cutting mastodon (AP)
"Collusion ain't a crime. The judges we bought said so."
This in particular made me think of gasoline prices here in the US. I now know that pricing at each gas station is done mostly automatically, because station owners pay for software that supposedly monitors other station prices and comes up with daily price changes. But, if most of the stations are using the same software...
Sounds like Austrian supermarket duopoly is as bad as the Australian supermarket duopoly.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

only a few lettes difference, no surprise.

But you have haver kangaroos and koalas.

Well, and everything else that tries to kill you on an hourly basis.

I'm sorry you have it worse.

@ingram Koalas are not homicidal. Kangaroos, on the other hand ... 😉
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@anne_twain @ingram oh, I thought they were called drop bears for a reason.
@ingram Drop bears are a completely different species.
Yellow Readis mastodon (AP)

my partner, a systems engineer, says this looks like naturally emergent behaviour from a poorly tuned feedback loop, aka @standupmaths story of the $23 million book. It doesn't require obvious collusion, just automated systems monitoring each other with an inbuilt bias to slightly increase prices.

It would be interesting to know the dates the supermarkets started monitoring each others prices.

Guessing they tweaked the global % increase when petrol prices went up, and at least one of the supermarkets turned theirs down when your stuff was reported.

Jonathan Horowitz mastodon (AP)
This is an amazing bit of data digging. My guess is that if you looked at Canada you would find something similar--maybe not quite so automated but definitely the same in spirit. Canada has only three large grocery store chains and have been slapped down a few times for anticompetitive practices, but no sanctions serious enough to make them stop.
cambiata mastodon (AP)
Great work on all of this. I'd love to see if there's a way to get the data from US grocery stores.
CuriousMatter mastodon (AP)
Are the prices on the web stores always the same, or at least related consistently to the prices in-store? One of the things I've noticed here in the U.S. is that supermarkets often have different prices posted online. Often they are higher, charging a "convenience tax" for saving you from walking around the store to find the items yourself. Other times the product in store is placed to be an "impulse buy", and they mark it higher, knowing consumers won't compare.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

@CuriousMatter they are most often the same. The online stores do not list local products. E.g. our local stores have locally produced donuts that aren't in the Austria wide online store.

Other than such things, it's pretty much the same on- and offline.

I can't speak for the much larger US market I'm afraid.

Gamy mastodon (AP)
amazing work, thank you so much for doing this! Will you fully implement other countries (e.g. germany)?
If I understand it correctly, rewe/müller are only for comparison currently
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

@MrGamy yes, REWE (Passau), Müller, and DM are only for comparison with Austrian equivalents.

I'm afraid I lack the time to tackle other countries. But I know for a fact that there are very capable developers all around the world that can take my public code and make it work for the stores in their countries. I'm happy to give guidance.

@Gamy
Gudrun mastodon (AP)
@MrGamy In the UK it is for example not necessary, there are several price comparison websites because the big 4 sell online. Lidl, Aldi of course not.
@Gamy
Wandel mastodon (AP)
oh really?
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Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@Wandel euch ausgenommen. Aber das war schon sehr late in the game :)
Joe Breuer mastodon (AP)
awesome project! 🔥🔥🔥 is something like this also available for Germany?
david mastodon (AP)
this is such a cool thing to do. Kudos, man.
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muıııo mastodon (AP)
Tag @bozho - the whole thread
Alex mastodon (AP)

this is interesting. I saw it's quite easy to add stores from other countries, but how difficult would it be to support a different currency?

thinking of adding Spar, Lidl, DM and Muller for Hungary, the problem is they have HUF instead of EUR.

Mure, die mastodon (AP)
Es gab amal eine Zeit, da hab ich mich gewundert, warum wir im Korruptionswahrnehmungsindex immer so weit unten stehen. Wundert mich jetzt eher, warum wir noch so hoch gereiht sind
Frans Super mastodon (AP)

Very happy that I read your thread. I hope someone will pick this up in NL, too. Because shrinkflation and grabflation are widespread here, too.

Anyone in The Netherlands who is willing and able to pickup the initiative Mario started of collecting product price data and showing their price fluctuations through time? Otherwise we keep getting f*d up our tiny a**s by procucers and retailers.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
already did
Datagraver.com mastodon (AP)
@KingmaYpe @apenkop @SolarDavy
Basics up and running. 35 million rows. Article naming bit inconsistent. So now the real works starts.
JPS_Lindberg mastodon (AP)

This is what, in business jargon, we like to call "good fucking investigative journalism".

Good bloody job!

Melle Kramer mastodon (AP)
THIS is what should happen with data driven/supported stuff. Awe. Some. Work!!!! It will only take two or three more governments to react is this way and the spiel will be up 😉
Richy222 mastodon (AP)
Inflation is a word that describes the rich robbing the poor
Mel Bushman mastodon (AP)
This is incredible. Thank you for being such a force for good!
Francis ☑️ mastodon (AP)

good job, well done. I recall that there was a website in the UK that did supermarket price comparisons, but it was shut down via copyright law: the supermarkets licence product images from a third party so when the guy used the same images as the supermarkets to.illustrate the price comparisons, he was threatened by the product image company and forced to shut down.

#copyright #competition #anticompetitive #supermarkets

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
that's why we don't use images.
Francis ☑️ mastodon (AP)
you would hope there would be some kind of fair use/fair dealing/public interest copyright exemption, but these things tend to be expensive to find out one way or the other
Mari mastodon (AP)
Your work is incredible. Thank you so much for sharing your conclusions and the means to emulate it.
sk00n mastodon (AP)
Boy, thats quite a thread.
Henrik Pauli mastodon (AP)

Excellent thread. The whole inflation thing has been much worse in Hungary, mostly I'd guess the same kind of price gouging (interestingly lidlaldi managed to return to sub 500 HUF prices for a litre of milk on their own - from a ~850 maximum I saw last year) and a whole lot of political and economical mismanagement factors that make up the real gist of the "war inflation" in Orbanistan.

They made a price watcher app, but it's mostly aimed at "the evil foreign multinational corpos"

Jake Beamer mastodon (AP)
incredibly great thread. We see the same kinds of things here in the USA- usually increases, the phony discounts come a lot, too- some stores do this constantly. CVS (pharmacy chain) is notorious for this. Having higher prices than everywhere, then decreasing items to almost the amount they SHOULD be, and calling it a discount or a sale. Garbage capitalism.
Frank Henninger mastodon (AP)
This needs boosted far and wide. And this needs to happen in the US also.
Luc :broken_camera: mastodon (AP)
amazing work! Thank you. 🙏🏻👍🏻😀
This is a brilliant project. Thank you.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@marathon ah a well reasoned comment based on lived experience, right? You have absofuckinglutely no idea what you are talking about.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@peterainbow wait, POS providers sell sales data from competing stores to each other? And that's not deemed anti-competitive?
happyborg mastodon (AP)

fantastic work Mario. It set me thinking about how discounts penalise those who most need them when operated in the ways you describe.

Essentially, and I do this, those who can will stock up when a discount happens and rarely have to pay the full price.

But guess who cannot afford to do this, and so pay much closer to what you call the average price.

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

@happyborg Absolutely true. Here in Austria, the stores have self-branded lowest cost products for this "segment" (what a terrible term).

They don't discount these at all.

Guess which products have significantly increased in price?

Gudrun mastodon (AP)
@happyborg Do you think this is the reason why Hofer/Aldi, Lidl don't have online websites? Lidl Germany writes these days about the vegetables prices only: actual daily price in the store. Zero transparency.
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
@Fayedray I'm not sure were Nazis come into play here. I'd think given the suffering Nazi Germany (and it's willing helper Austria) have caused, that comparison is a bit distasteful.
@Fayedray Well handled .👍🏻
Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)

Well, thanks for educating me, person from some far away country who does not have to visit Ausschwitz as part of their school education, so they can remember what fucked up shit their grand and grand grand parents did. I too shall start just looking shit up on Wikipedia and make wild comparisons on the interrnet between entirely unrelated things.

Cheerio.

Declan mastodon (AP)
this job is greatly done. It is a pleasure to meet people like you out there. But, I am not an economist, i am afraid that bringing corporations to justice won't solve our problems. They are just greedy bustards and if they stop making enough money they will close their chains and we might wind up in the world of monopoly or scarcity. The answer to our problem is to make profit illegal but this may cost lives.
shukes mastodon (AP)
I’m sorry about that.
ZaphodHarkonnen mastodon (AP)
Mate. I swear you could replace Austria with New Zealand and have it come out the same. It was weird how close it matches the bullshit here.
Marco mastodon (AP)
Mein Held!
Erik mastodon (AP)

Great story!

Practically the same thing happened in Croatia, only we did get a government-run price tracking site that had no real-world effects.

And we already did know that Croatian products are cheaper outside of Croatia thanks to all of the people that left the country in search of a better life :)

Mario Zechner mastodon (AP)
went to Croatia this July. Your peices are higher than ours. WTF.
Erik mastodon (AP)

Higher prices, lower wages :)

That's what you get when you have a criminal organization (HDZ) running the country.

But at least you can buy Croatian products for cheap in Austria :)

SpiegMax mastodon (AP)
does anyone know of an user app that has the here presented features and respects privacy? smhaggle allows me to compare prices across stores and products, but is basically a marketing app that collects customer data.
Dominik Schrempf mastodon (AP)
Impressive! Well done!
Not exactly the same situation, but all this talk of price-fixing and algorithms reminds me of the whole "land owners collude on prices by using the same algorithm" thing. https://www.propublica.org/article/yieldstar-rent-increase-realpage-rent
Jaddle mastodon (AP)
This is wonderful. I'm sure very similar results would surface from a similar analysis in Canada. Grocery here is a mess or monopolistic nastiness.
Bette mastodon (AP)
Just when I am worrying about everything going to hell in a hand basket, you come along and let me hope again! Thank you, Mario!
Maria Bustillos mastodon (AP)
Thanks for writing this and for doing all the work, I hope the investigations keep going!
MonstersX mastodon (AP)
I started building a scraper for some Canadian grocery stores today, nice and simple app. I added jest so I could test individual scrapers
Johannes mastodon (AP)
price "increase" in Austria by shrinking product sizes (price is still the same but...).
Daniel Wengelin mastodon (AP)
Great thread!!!
Ross McFarlane mastodon (AP)
Not all heroes wear capes and fly.
@stux As our resident programmer, I’m sure you would love to create a version for our Dutch supermarkets. This threads starts with a cool story about the #enshittification of pricing by supermarkets, the Github code is somewhere below.
I would be interested, but my programming skills ended with Pascal..
Vespertide mastodon (AP)
Absolutely fascinating
Wraithe mastodon (AP)
This is a fascinating thread, thanks for your hard work (and I don’t even live in Austria 😀).
I noticed similar issues at one of our grocery stores (Stop & Shop), where they routinely do “New Low Price!” & I know the price the previous price was actually the same at one point.