Hidden pricing creates dissatisfied buyers

Recently, we purchased an expensive mattress set. We visited numerous mattress stores over several days. When we found the mattress we wanted, we returned to one store but they quoted a higher price than our prior visit. Fortunately, I showed the earlier written quote, and we got the lower price. But I was annoyed that I had to argue for the lower price, and I left wondering whether I could have negotiated for an even better price.

Most Americans hate to shop for products where prices are not clear and published: cars, mobile phone service, airlines. With cars, everything must be negotiated. You are at a severe disadvantage because the salesperson sells a few cars each week, yet few consumers buy more than a couple of cars each decade. Mobile phones are equally annoying. Do you have the most cost effective rate plan? If they offer a new rate plan, can you switch with no fee? What if you want to upgrade your phone? The worst are any businesses with introductory rates, where the regular rates are not published. I get barraged with offers for broadband or cable TV, but I can never figure out what my monthly charge would be at the end of the introductory period.

And it’s not just consumer goods. I don’t think businesses like to purchase in cases where the price is not clear.

Moral of the story: publish a clear and simple price list. Focus on making your product or service better, not on trapping your customers into a maze of confusing price contracts.

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One Comment on “Hidden pricing creates dissatisfied buyers”

  1. frank Says:

    For my last car, I went to autoweb.com and dealt with the fleet dealer. It was much easier than working with the guys in the white belts, so in the future it’s the only way I’ll buy a car.


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