Displaying Prices On Websites

online pricesI find it really annoying when I’m interested in a service or product and the associated website doesn’t provide a price. I’ve got a requirement to fill, I’ve searched and found what looks like a viable supplier and now I want to know what it will cost me, maybe approximately, but close enough to know if I want to take my interest further.

So I look for a price list and there isn’t one. Worst of all I am told I have to phone for a price or give away my personal details in a web form to get a price. I feel manipulated, I feel control is being taken away from me and I resent that. In most cases therefore I move on to another site. So that little ploy worked then … not!

Obviously I’m not referring to online stores where prices are clear and prominent, although you do sometimes find delivery charges are not mentioned until you are half way through the buying process. It’s generally but not exclusively smaller companies that hide their prices. Is it the old fashioned notion that if they force you to call them they can also force you to buy? That might have worked twenty years ago but not now.

These days trust is the most important commodity a seller can engender. If you are evasive about what something is going to cost or hide some cost I’m going to come across later, then you are going to lose my trust. On the other hand if you are clear on what your goods or service cost, guarantee me there are no hidden charges and practice complete transparency I’ll buy off you if you have what I want.

I’m glad to say a couple of the companies I am associated with do put these principles on pricing into practice.


Fastsms are one of the UK’s longest established and most successful suppliers of SMS messaging services. When they entered the SMS business in 2002 they were the first to offer clear and transparent pricing. Up to then suppliers charged a setup fee, a monthly management fee, and sometimes other unjustified costs. They sold bundles of messages based on so much per message credit but these credits expired if they weren’t used in a few months. It was a proper racket!

Fastsms changed all that. They made it clear that there were no costs at all for SMS messaging other than the cost of the message credits and they also stipulated that once paid for these credits never expired. Before long most SMS providers adopted the same approach in order to stay in business and to this day the rules on pricing are modeled on Fastsms.

Take a look at their SMS Prices page to see how clear and transparent their pricing model is.


PlanetStream are a provider of high quality video and audio streaming services. Their charges are more complex than those of Fastsms. The cost is based on many factors:

  • Bitrate of the video to be streamed (which dictates the quality of the broadcast)
  • The duration of the stream – the longer it lasts the more it costs
  • The number of viewers or listeners – the higher the number the greater the usage

You could think of it a bit like estimating your use of electricity – that depends on the electrical consumption of each device, how long it is in use and by how many people.

PlanetStream’s solution for their website was to create two calculators, one for Live Streaming and one for On Demand Streaming.

To calculate the cost of streaming a live event through PlanetStream you just enter the key details of the stream and you can view the details on screen, request email confirmation and if you wish order the service there and then. [View the page]

live event calculator

Similarly for a cost related to On Demand Streaming you can enter details of individual files, their size, quality and anticipated viewings with a similar result. [View the page]

on demand calculator

So if Fastsms and PlanetStream can do it why not everyone else? It’s not just the more ethical way of presenting prices online, it’s actually the most effective too as it generates trust. What do you think? Have you come across sites that try to hide their costs?

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