Why vendor prices are important things to have

July 24, 2013

I have been looking into various bits of hardware lately and I've noticed an irritating trend: equipment vendors that don't list any sort of price on their website. To get pricing information you need to find their VARs or resellers and then find a reseller that lists those prices online. This is absurdly difficult and annoying.

(I award a special bonus prize to vendors whose VAR reseller page contains links to websites that aren't there. Yes, I've run into this.)

The reason I care about prices is simple; prices are part of how I know whether it's worth looking at a vendor's products. If your 24-port 10G Ethernet switch costs $20K, it may be an excellent switch with many fine benefits but we can't afford it. It's purely a waste of my time (and the vendor's time) for me to investigate it any further.

Hiding prices from me has two effects. The obvious one is that it makes me waste my time this way. The less obvious one is that it encourages me to guess about what the prices are so that I can avoid wasting my time. This guessing is mostly not to the benefit of vendors; if you don't list prices I'm much more likely to guess that your prices are too high than anything else.

(It doesn't help vendors if I guess low and keep looking into something that turns out to be too expensive. The odds that your attractive but expensive product will increase our available budget is approximately nil, so I can't buy it however neat it is.)

I understand that vendors don't want to turn their product pages into a shopping site. But in practice pretty much everyone actually does have an MSRP so you might as well give me at least an indication of what it is. Even if it's too high for us today, it will make me think better of you in the future (since you were straightforward about it).

By the way, I have a violent reaction to vendors who are withholding pricing in an attempt to force me to talk to salespeople (or at the very least to give them my email address). These vendors are consciously making my life more annoying and harder in order to make their own lives easier (to put it one way); you can imagine how that makes me feel about them. I am rather uninterested in dealing with people whose first move is to inconvenience me, especially when I suspect that their future moves will be to continue to inconvenience me in various ways (pestering phone calls, being sent vendor email blasts, etc etc).

Written on 24 July 2013.
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Last modified: Wed Jul 24 02:51:05 2013
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