As a hardware and software reseller, I receive a lot of phone calls each day. If you remove the service/support calls from the total, the largest majority, by far, consists of one question, “How much is product X?”. While I certainly welcome these calls, the truth is that it is far more time consuming than just making our pricing publicly available on our website. Not that I have that option, as many of my reseller agreements prohibit me from doing so.
However, I remember being a service provider and hating the fact I had to call someone and provide a bunch of contact information just to find out how much their product cost! So, are there still good reasons to maintain prices as the world’s worst-kept secret or is it time to be open about pricing?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons that prices are not published.
- Prices Vary by Territory. The thinking is that you can’t charge the same for a product in Africa that you can in North America. So, make each person call their local reseller and get “their” pricing. While this may have been true, most of us now look online at this sort of thing, completely oblivious to geographical boundaries. Issues of transparent pricing become especially apparent on something like The Laser Scanning Forum when a manufacturer’s rep or anyone with a reselling contract quickly drops out of pricing conversations for fear of not knowing exactly who they are talking with online. Shopping, in general, has changed since the invention of the Internet. People may look locally, but they’ll price check online to save a few bucks. Besides, major asset owners have always bought from the vendor that was cheapest as opposed to where their home office was located.
- Currency Values Fluctuate. This one actually makes a lot of sense to me. People do not like to be quoted a price in a currency they do not use. It’s like telling everyone your age in milliseconds. All they do is convert it (immediately) and run with that number. This can be a real problem when you are dealing with six-figure sums and a parts list that includes components from Japan, Germany, the United States, and more.
- Humans are Lazy. Publishing something means maintaining it 24/7. No one goes back and deletes old Internet copy. It just lives on forever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled an old price sheet instead of the new one. Fortunately, prices in scanning tech typically go down, so the adjustment is easy on the client. But, the point is that maintaining all of that is probably more work that just verbally quoting a number each time you are asked. Besides, I do not know of a single manufacturer that is not stretched as far as they can be in a staff-to-work ratio. So, maybe it’s less lazy than busy but the end result is the same.
- Everybody Wants a Deal! Most of us are not honest with one another about what we paid for our equipment because we either: A) got a deal and promised to not disclose it, or B) don’t want to look like a sucker for paying retail when they think everyone else is getting a deal. This one is a bit sticky for me. As a reseller, we are required by most (but not all) manufacturers to sell at a predetermined price. So often, there is no deal to be had. However, as a service provider, I saw manufacturers undercut resellers when it suited their needs. Not having advertised prices and everyone keeping their price secret perpetuates this. I’ve both benefited from and been burned this way in the past. Personally, I don’t like it. I like scanning not playing pricing games, but it’s apparently part of the job.