Blogger-SMS | Déjà Vu ~ Times

Has Anyone Noticed ?

to the price-tag of

Once upon a time, Adam Smith said:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. (The Wealth of Nations, p. 148—I.X.I)

Once upon a (more recent) time, foreigners (in this instance, meaning non-residents of the USA) could surf the commercial web for best price and most current product and actually order it from a US company without having a US billing address for their credit card.

Now, one is beginning to encounter online merchants, even ones as big as HomeDepot and Walmart, who refuse to sell online, if the purchaser cannot provide a US billing address. As recent as ten months ago, this was not so. So what is the deal?

Are these companies colluding with their international sister companies to protect turf and prices? Just try to checkout online without a US billing and shipping address if your preferred seller is a US company. Let’s take and for example:

▪ Check out the 13 bath toys available online at
against the 130 available online at
(If these web addresses change or become defunct, just try your own product comparison.)

▪ Check out the $13.87 CDN and $9.68 USD price differential for the very same “Summer Infant Tub Time Tea Party Set.”*

▪ Check out the increasing inability to purchase what you want from the online store you prefer if you are deemed “foreign.”

Sometimes, it may be the reverse when savvy US shoppers encounter a unique product and price in another country and are locked out by drop-down-box address exclusions. Is it because companies are “sacrificing” sales to non-competition covenants with sister companies? Just try to buy a great online deal from if you live in the US.

Some seem to be using “fraud management filters” (such as that offered by PayPal) to exclude orders from foreign-based IP addresses—not for the sake of fraud protection, but solely to justify refusal to sell. For example:

“PayPal gateway has rejected request. The transaction was refused because the country was prohibited as a result of your Country Monitor Risk Control Setting.”

Yes, fraud can be an issue, but when the billing and shipping addresses have been in PayPal’s database for years and have been used innumerable times without problem or complaint, surely fraud technology is smart enough to know that!? So, can there be some other reason to exclude willing buyers from certain markets?!

Thus, if one is travelling or temporarily outside the US, their US PayPal account with its US-issued credit card and its US verified billing and shipping addresses can be rejected because the online purchase was attempted from a foreign IP address.

So much for free trade with certain merchants, unless you are free to travel to the US (or other country of choice) and present your credit card in person and carry the item away. And so much for being able to buy certain US items and have them shipped to family or friends in the US (or elsewhere).

A work-around suggested by a customer service rep at was to travel to our local (foreign) HomeDepot (3-hr round trip) and purchase a gift card in order to complete our desired transaction online with

So, how do these definitions jive with current and evolving realities?

A free-trade area is a trade bloc whose member countries have signed a free-trade agreement (FTA), which eliminates tariffs, import quotas, and preferences on most (if not all) goods and services traded between them. If people are also free to move between the countries, in addition to FTA, it would also be considered an open border.

United States antitrust law is a collection of federal and state government laws, which regulates the conduct and organization of business corporations, generally to promote fair competition for the benefit of consumers. The main statutes are the Sherman Act 1890, the Clayton Act 1914 and the Federal Trade Commission Act 1914. These Acts, first, restrict the formation of cartels and prohibit other collusive practices regarded as being in restraint of trade. Second, they restrict the mergers and acquisitions of organizations which could substantially lessen competition. Third, they prohibit the creation of a monopoly and the abuse of monopoly power.

Competition law is law that promotes or seeks to maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by companies.
Competition law is known as antitrust law in the United States and anti-monopoly law in China and Russia. In previous years it has been known as trade practices law in the United Kingdom and Australia.
The history of competition law reaches back to the Roman Empire. The business practices of market traders, guilds and governments have always been subject to scrutiny, and sometimes severe sanctions. Since the 20th century, competition law has become global. The two largest and most influential systems of competition regulation are United States antitrust law and European Union competition law. National and regional competition authorities across the world have formed international support and enforcement networks.

Isn’t it time we consumers and citizens awoke to the fraud of “free markets”? ’Tis a complaint as old as capital itself!