Why Can’t Websites Be Upfront About Costs?

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I was registering for a service on a website the other day.

It was something I was interested in and it involved a multi-screen registration process. After I spent time completing all of the requested information, I came to a screen that then asked for payment.

I was quite surprised. Nowhere on the first screen, or on any screen during the registration process, did it mention there was a fee for the service.

As I sat there for a few minutes staring at the screen, and feeling duped, a window popped up, offering me the service at half price. I suppose the company has the website set up to time-out and offer a “deal” before they “lose” a potential customer.

Needless to say, they’d already lost me.

About an hour later an email arrived in my inbox, with a message communicating surprise that I had abandoned registration when I hit the payment screen, and once again inquiring if I wanted to take advantage of their half-price offer.

My reaction?

I unsubscribed from their list.

My question for this company (and anyone reading this who’d care to respond) is Why would I want to do business with a company who is not upfront about the services they offer and the fact that they charge for them?

Would I have paid the fee if I had been shown it upfront?

I’m not sure. But I would have been able to evaluate whether I felt the service was a good value for the price, and was something I actually wanted to pay for, BEFORE investing time completing a detailed registration process.

I’m guessing many people choose to pay the fee because they’ve already invested the time. And still others, who may balk at the fee, choose to pay when offered the half-price discount. Me? Well, it all just left a bad taste in my mouth.

This is the type of behavior I believe gives Internet Marketing a bad name.

Call me old-fashioned but I believe in being honest and upfront with potential customers. I don’t believe you need to (or should) play games to get people to do business with you.

I feel the same way about websites that offer what appears to be a free service (usually an evaluation of some sort), requires you to go through a variety of screens to provide information, and then requires you to opt-in to get the results. Again, why not just let people know upfront that you offer a free evaluation but that an email address is required to access it?

In both cases it feels like these companies are hiding something. Trying to trick you into buying or opting in. Just not a good, honest business practice in my opinion.

I understand that when you’re selling higher priced personal services, that it’s often better to do a consultation before quoting a price. In that case you want to find out if your services are even a fit for the potential client, and perhaps you need to create a customized proposal for them. THAT is not what I’m referring to here. I’m talking about lower priced (in this case under $100) services that are sold with a click of a button to anyone who wishes to buy.

What do you think?

Do you think this is a valid online business practice? Please post a comment and share.

About Debbie

Debbie worked in marketing for 32 years and ran a successful coaching and consulting business for 19. She now teaches marketing and helps people find greater happiness and success by learning how to Follow Inspiration.

2 comments on “Why Can’t Websites Be Upfront About Costs?

  1. Debbie, I had this same experience last week! I thought I missed something, I hit the back button looking for the price – non-existent. I couldn’t believe they would presume that someone would press a button to pay for something and not even know the price! Maybe there tag line is “if you have to look at the price tag, you can’t afford it!” Either way, I agree, this is a bad practice. I hope it doesn’t “catch” on as the latest gimmick to get sales.

  2. Debbie: I agree, not quoting a price before the pay button is not honest or good business practice. I also don’t like being offered an assessment and then having to opt in for the results. I have encountered this quite a bit recently. When that happens I just delete everything. Thanks for the article – I hope everyone takes note of this and the potential negative effect on their business.

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