Capital One Made Me Different Loan Offers Depending On Which Browser I Used

Devin says Capital One’s online car loan rates differ depending on which browser you use to go loan-hunting. Apparently the bank’s loan-offering robot doesn’t think much of Firefox users.

Devin writes:

So this is a new one. Not sure if you’ve seen it before. I just put my order in for my Nissan Leaf and received the total price for it so decided it’d be a good idea to take a look and see what auto loan rates were. I checked my credit union first and they currently are offering 3.99%. Not bad, but about a week ago Capital One had sent me an email advertising a 3.10% rate. I went to check the website using my default browser (Firefox 4 Beta 6) and noticed it was at 3.5%.

I figured it had just gone up since I received the email. I tried to use their little payment calculator but the flash based widget wouldn’t work properly in the Firefox Beta so I loaded up Safari to try and funny enough the rate offered was 2.7%. I checked in Chrome and Opera to see if it was maybe just something wrong with the Firefox beta and Chrome’s rate was 2.3% while Opera’s was 3.1%.

I’m not sure why Capital One would choose to offer Chrome users a lower rate than Firefox users, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Devin installed fresh versions of the browsers in order to make sure the changes didn’t result from different cookie settings. It seems those looking for a Capital One loan should apply through Chrome.

Comments

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  1. i_t_man says:

    It’s not the different browser that makes it change, the displayed rate is completely random. Try refreshing several times, you’ll get a different rate each time.

  2. Design3r says:

    They aren’t even the same page when you load chrome vs firefox. Must assume Chrome users are smarter than firefox users. My father-in-law uses firefox to get to “free games” aka viruses.

    • Leper says:

      Ah, it’s nice to see Firefox taking IE’s role as a source for viruses.

      • pot_roast says:

        yeah, Firefox has really gone down the tubes over the past year. More and more security problems and it’s become an easy target.

        • Plasmafox says:

          For the rest of us that aren’t that guy’s father in law, blocking third-party resources including tracking bugs, stopping slimy advertisements from ever being downloaded, disabling worthless scripts and annoying “features” while allowing key onesthat actually are needed, halting automatic redirects and page refreshes, avoid spam and phishing sites, and other such nastiness, make it *more* secure. Firefox is not plug and play for the average user like IE is meant to be. It is like a power tool. You need to read the instructions and practice with it to make the best use of it- using a hacksaw to cut pipe does not translate into being able to carve patterns in wood with a scrollsaw.

  3. Opdelt says:

    That’s awesome! Another reason why I prefer Chrome!

  4. qwickone says:

    Are they making assumptions like “Chrome users shop around more, therefore our rates have to be more competitive”?

  5. cardigan says:

    I think the answer here is obvious: Capital One and Google are secretly in cahoots, and are planning a massively hostile takeover of the US economy via cheap loan rates on Google Chrome.

    • Tim says:

      Or Capital One and Mozilla are in cahoots, and Mozilla gets a cut of every loan Capital One sells via Firefox.

  6. lucky13 says:

    Well, obviously I need to install Chrome…oh wait, I don’t need a loan…and I’m positive I don’t need a loan from Capital One!

  7. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    Can I apply with Links?
    Will I get the uber-geek 1% rate then?

  8. xamarshahx says:

    maybe its poor development and they have different versions of the site??

  9. bearymore says:

    Wow! I have a Firefox addon which spoofs the user agent. When I go to Capitalone with the default Firefox as the user agent I get 3.50%. When set the addon to tell Capitalone I’m using Internet Explorer, I get 2.70%. When I switch back to Firefox, I get 3.50% again. Keep in mind, I’m using the same browser and simply opening the site in different tabs

  10. xanxer says:

    I wonder what they would give to someone running Mosaic or Netscape Navigator on a bunk old machine.

  11. davidsco says:

    Hmm, sounds like a “hassle” Jerry Stiller should be embarrassed to be stumping for these clowns

  12. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “Devin installed fresh versions of the browsers in order to make sure the changes didn’t result from different cookie settings.”

    That doesn’t wipe out your old cookies. You have to do that manually, either via function in the browser, manually via the file system (even if you uninstall the browser), or maybe via an antivirus program.

  13. zombieite says:

    it sounds like an A/B test. when you arrive at the site, you’re assigned a random rate. they do this because they want to be able to see how customers respond to price increases, decreases, special offers, webpage designs, etc.

    after your first arrival, every following time you reload or return to the site, you’ll see the same rate, since you’ll keep the persistent cookie. if you delete your cookies and see the same results every time, there could still be other means for them to be sure it’s you, so there’s a chance they’re using those tricks (flash cookies, for instance). reinstalling the browser may not even fix this.

    of course it’s possible they’re distinguishing by user agent, but i think it’s very unlikely.

  14. gman863 says:

    Although I use the Internet for research, the old-school method of a phone call is the best way to sort this out.

    Pay a few bucks to get your FICO score before rate shopping. Lenders usually won’t share it with you and may actually lie about it, claiming you don’t qualify for their “top tier” (lowest risk) rate. The “top tier” qualification with lenders varies, some may require a FICO score of 740 or above to get it.

    Read the fine print. Cap One and other lenders may have other strings attached. For example, the rate may include a discount for automatic debit from a Cap One checking account; payment from non Cap One account could make the actual interest rate up to half a point higher.

    Call Cap One and tell the rep you saw a 2.7% rate but have heard from “a friend” it could be as low as 2.4% (banks stretch the truth; you’re just returning the favor). Before you give your SSN, tell the rep “My FICO score is ###. Based on verifying this, what is my rate for a $xxxxx loan for ## months on a new/used car? Does this rate require I have a Cap One checking account?”.

    If the rate qouted is acceptable (and you’re ready to buy), go for it. Remember: Each credit inquiry by a lender can shave a few points off your FICO score; paying a few bucks for a personal copy of it won’t. If your score is barely into the “top tier” range, one or two inquiries could drop your score below “top tier” if you decide to use a different lender.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      I thought multiple inquiries in a short period of time indicated rate shopping to the credit overlords and only counted as one inquiry?

      • gman863 says:

        That is the way it is supposed to be: Multiple inquiries for a mortgage or auto loan within a 14 day period should count as only one hit; however my experience proved otherwise:

        When I moved three years ago, three lenders did inquiries within a two day period. Sterling Bank (the lender I chose) pulled my file NINE MORE TIMES in a three week period before closing; my score went from 807 to 705 as a result! When I called Equifax and complained, they claimed each “hit” from Sterling Bank dropped points from my score.

        Before I had time to beat the crap out of the Sterling loan officer, they sold the note to Countrywide a week after closing; Countrywide has since been eaten by Bank of America.

        My credit score has since recovered. I guess the moral of the story is that, compared to BoA, there are far shitter banks in Texas.

  15. BurtReynolds says:

    Will I get a lower rate using Chrome in Linux Mint?

  16. Mecharine says:

    Sounds like shoddy javascript. More likely they got outsourced menial labor to program their calculator which incorrectly used the browser type to calculate the percentage rate.

  17. LisaLisa says:

    Old news. I used to be a business analyst for Capital One and this has been going on for awhile.

    If you model the risk and revenue of applicants, the type of browser shows up as a significant variable. Browsers do predict an account’s performance to some degree, and it will affect the rates you will view. It isn’t a marketing test.

  18. matt says:

    Guaranteed this is standard price testing, CapitalOne along with every other major financial institution does this all the time. The fact you got different rates with different browers is coincidence.

    @lisalisa you have no idea what you’re talking about.