October 16, 2019
CORE C 035
Deceptive Products on Platforms
Johannes Johnen, UCLouvain CORE
On many online platforms, sellers offer products with additional fees and features. Platforms often deliberately shroud these fees from consumers. Examples are shipping fees, luggage fees on flight-aggregator websites, or resort fees and upgrades on hotel booking platforms. We explore the incentives of two-sided platforms to disclose additional fees and design a transparent marketplace when consumers might naively ignore shrouded additional fees. First, we find that platforms have stronger incentives to shroud additional fees than sellers in the absence of platforms. This result holds for monopoly platforms and in some competitive settings. Second, competition might induce platforms to regulate additional fees, which benefits consumers. We discuss connections to frequent practices like drip pricing, and platforms like Amazon or eBay regulating shipping fees.
Remember to bring your own cup if you would like to have some water.
Looking forward to seeing you all in the seminar!