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Decide.com predicts the best time to buy, save

Tuesday - 12/4/2012, 3:46am  ET

WASHINGTON - Fluctuating online prices are jerking around some shoppers this holiday season, but one website is taking the guess work out of determining when to click "buy."

Decide.com helps customers get the best price by predicting the optimal time to purchase items. A tool like this is especially helpful after customers saw a range of prices on products from competing retailers, shortly after Thanksgiving.

In one instance, Amazon changed the price of a popular Xbox game to meet or match its competitors' prices a total of seven times in just seven days.

The New York Times reports retail prices have entered a new era of speed and precision.

It used to be that merchants sent employees into their competitors' stores to check on prices, then they would lower their own prices accordingly. Now, sophisticated computer programs accomplish the same goal, online, in a matter of minutes.

Due to the constant change in prices, The Times reports that some shoppers paid more than three times the price of other buyers around this year's Black Friday.

WTOP's Veronica Robinson contributed to this report. Follow VRobWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)