Why do otherwise sane companies go to such extreme lengths to avoid publishing their prices?

I cannot believe the mental gymnastics that some people will go through in order to avoid publishing the single most important piece of information on their site – the price of their product or service.

To make the cognitive process of the average visitor plain, no one will ever phone or email you to find out the price if it is not on the website.  They will just go the the next site in Google’s list of search results.

Think about you own online behavior – when was the last time you saw a product or a service on a site that had no price- and you went ahead with the purchasing decision anyway? – it simply does not happen.

Companies refuse to put prices on their site due to a kind of arrogant coquettishness: they think that their price is their greatest trade secret that should only be revealed after the customer has been reeled in, in the style of high-pressure timeshare sales: or they try and keep it secret so as to be able to charge customers different amounts based on their ability to pay.

Or even more unbelievably, they believe that their prices are huge trade secrets that their competitors must not ever find out.  As if a competitor would be stopped from finding out prices for longer than 30 seconds if they were not on your site… – the key difference here is that a competitor is motivated to persist until they find out this data… – a visitor to your site is not.  The cost of switching to a different potential supplier – that is: looking at a different site – is potentially 2 mouse clicks, or as close to zero as is possible.

And guess what? – all of us are aware of these tactics, and when we are simply creating the shortlist of suppliers for whatever we are looking for, a site with no prices on it just fails to make the shortlist.

No one ever contacts you to ask your price if it is not on your site.  Ever.

If you are in the kind of business that legitimately has no standard prices – such as selling a service or product that is highly customised every time – then there is a magic word that gets you out of all of these problems:

“From”

“Prices are from £x” gets you out of all these problems – and the customer now has a mental anchor point at which to gauge the value of your offering.  And if you are selling them more than the bare minimum then they will be more than happy at a price higher than the initial one…

… – after all, your original quoted price was “from”.