TOP capitalists are forever getting up to dastardly tricks to make us buy their goods.

One area they attack is the earlobe. They believe the ear is the path to the brain, and the brain is the bit they want to manipulate, kneading it like dough until it says: "Rab, son, while you're in the supermarket you should buy lots of things that you don't need. That will make you happy."

They also use other senses such as smell: warm bread and so forth. After my local (in the sense of several miles away) supermarket had a revamp, you could smell bacon at the hi-fi section, which was at the very opposite end of the massive emporium's cafeteria.

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They must have piped in the pleasing pong. Very confusing, and not very profitable for the evil capitalists: somebody comes in to buy a hi-fi system but settles for a bacon buttie.

However, these days, chances are you'd buy a hi-fi, and many other goods, online.

Here, you can take your time, particularly as you wait weeks for the item to arrive.

And they can't get at you with their smells. The earlobes are still vulnerable, but that can work both ways. According to a study by Goldsmiths, University of London, radio pop music, football commentary and chatting are background sounds that help you buy wisely online.

Commissioned to mark eBay's 15th anniversary in the UK, the study's aim was to reduce bad shopping choices and help us spot bargains. Factual background noise such as television or radio news also helped, as did the sound of an air conditioner, since it's not associated with quality or luxury.

How odd. Classical music, which usually helps all creatures from exam studiers to milk-producing coos, was bad because it made shoppers overrate a product's quality by five per cent. It makes you feel all expansive, luxurious and tasteful: bad attitudes when shopping.

An eBay spokeswoman ululated: "Our senses affect the way we shop - sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way."

Sadly, we still buy most of our food at the supermarket, but by making up a wee tape of air conditioning sounds, you could waddle around spotting bargains left, right and centre.

On no account pipe Mozart or any of that stuff through your earphones, or you'll end up buying a hi-fi when you only came in for a bacon roll.