Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tech Vendors Make You Work to Find the Price. Why?

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In the past week I have done several stories for ReadWriteWeb where I
had to really dig to get the price from the vendor. This seems the
beginning of a trendlet, especially when it comes to Web-based

Even IBM’s press announcement had nothing on its pricing
plan, something that would have been unheard of a few years ago back
in the day when the “ivories” were chock full of product info. (They
were called this because they came printed out on ivory-colored paper
stock, back when we didn’t have Web sites to review these
announcements. You know, in the days long ago around the same time
that Tom Watson was using punched cards.)

The argument for omitting prices goes something like this: We sell a
service that is based on (latency, traffic, bandwidth consumed,
storage, insert your favorite metric here), and there are wide
variations in customer usage, so each deal is priced separately. We
can’t really quote a single MSRP because of the way we price our

Well, that is nice. But what is really going on is that the vendor
hasn’t decided on its pricing strategy, and so has instructed their PR
firm or marcom team to just omit this information and see what the
reaction is by potential customers and other related parties.  Based
on this free research, they will come back and adjust the Web pages
and add the appropriate pricing.

But this is so wrong-headed. The wrong price can turn the most amazing
product into a dog, and not putting a price online (or a way to at
least have potential customers calculate a price without picking up a
phone) just makes everyone more frustrated and the chance to actually
lose a customer to a competitor, where this information is clearly

I mean, even Amazon’s Web Services, which has certainly one of the
most complex pricing schemes around, at least puts this page up where
you can try to calculate what your usage will be:

They don’t make it easy to find this pricing calculator page though.
And they do frequently change their prices, as the costs for providing
compute power and storage goes down. What is even more relevant is
that there are new businesses that are offering to analyze your AWS
usage and suggest ways that you can minimize your bills, such as
UptimeCloud.com. (You know your pricing is out of whack when
independent vendors come up with tools that can help explain it to
your customers!)

So folks, put a price tag on your Web site and include in your
announcements and other press materials. Priceless may work as a
branding for Mastercard but not for most IT services.

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