Lame excuses for hiding your prices

25Feb10

A few days ago, I was researching some marketing strategies and needed to find out the cost of joining a particular non-profit organization. According to their website, they charge an upfront membership fee and an annual maintenance fee after that. However, no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find any current info about how large these fees might be. In every place where you’d expect to find the pricing, it said the prices depended on your annual revenue levels and a few other things, and that you needed to fill out the membership form in order to get the actual price.

Obviously, this was a big red flag: you have to spend time filling out their seemingly daunting membership application before they tell how how much it’s going to cost to join. There’s no way I’m committing all that time to something until I know what the prices are. Next, I tried calling their phone number, only to be greeted by a message telling me to fill out the online form to get prices. Finally, I sent them an email and asked for the ballpark pricing for a few hypothetical revenue levels.

The response I received was incredibly lame. No matter how I asked the question, the only thing they would say was the following: “We’re a non-profit, so we don’t publish our pricing”. Oh, is that a new law: non-profit organizations can’t put their pricing on the web? I highly doubt it, since tons of museums, trade associations, and universities post their pricing right on their website. When I questioned their inane logic, they just spouted the same response again.

When you hide pricing, and refuse to provide even a ballpark estimate of what something costs, it frustrates your customers and prospects. And when you make up ridiculous reasons for why you can’t give people pricing, they’ll dislike you even more. In short, it’s best to publish a ballpark pricing estimate when you can. But if that’s not possible, at least try to have a good, honest explanation of why the prices have to be kept secret.



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