Why Does Everyone Hide Their Prices?

June 12, 2006

Just yesterday, I got some email from another web analyst asking me to buy his new .pdf booklet. I was really surprised that the price wasn’t in the email. “He should know better, he’s a web analyst,” I thought. “Clicks are precious.”

So I clicked through to his landing page — and the price still wasn’t there. And then I clicked again and finally got to it.

Do people bury their prices because they are embarrassed? Or, do they think that the customer will say, “I’ve spent so much time on this site looking for the price, I’ll just buy it now that I’ve finally figured out what it costs?”

Now, it’s not always easy to show your prices. Just today, I was talking to a customer about including prices on a category page. We didn’t want to say, “Starting at $10.00” when the prices went up to $300 (feels deceptive.) We didn’t want to say, $10-300 (seems kind of useless.) We haven’t decided how to handle it, and I only point it out to show that I, too, am a sometimes-sensitive soul who realizes that not all cases are the same. Sometimes you’ve got a complex sale and you need to build the case before the customer has a chance to calculate the damage. But if the pricing is very straightforward and competitive, why hide it?