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HP Businesses The Almighty Buck Linux Business

HP Seeks to Block Competitor From Revealing Its Pricing 144

Posted by timothy
from the whaddya-mean-the-price-tag's-showing? dept.
Matt Asay writes "On October 13, 2008, Hewlett-Packard sent a complaint to an open-source competitor, GroundWork, asking GroundWork to stop revealing HP's 'confidential' pricing. CNET has posted the letter, which indicates that HP doesn't want its pricing revealed, but which doesn't question the veracity of the pricing (which, not surprisingly, is 82 percent higher than the open-source vendor's). Does HP think its pricing is really a secret? It's publicly available at GSA Advantage. Guess what? HP software costs a lot of money, but presumably feels that it can justify the high prices. Why try to hide the pricing information?"
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HP Seeks to Block Competitor From Revealing Its Pricing

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  • by msgmonkey (599753) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:14AM (#25915101)

    Maybe the price of the software varies significantly from customer to customer. I mean if you just found out that you paid 2x as much for software mentioned here you'd be pretty annoyed.

    Plus there is always corporate paranoia..

    • by wisty (1335733) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:30AM (#25915163)

      Companies don't like to release pricing, because then they would be more compelled to compete on price.

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday November 28, 2008 @08:07AM (#25915321)
        Actually, they do not like to release pricing because it would take away one of the best bargaining pieces they have: the ability to lower the price during a sales meeting. Enterprise vendors love to tell a customer that they are going to lower the price by 50%, 60%, 80%, etc., because in the end, it works out for everybody. The customer goes back thinking they got a deal and the vendor still turns a profit (because the list price is marked up significantly). Once you are forced to reveal your list price to the world, it becomes more difficult to convince your customers that you are even willing to give them a discount or negotiate, because they have already seen the price and assume that is what they will be charged. The order in which things are revealed to a customer will determine whether or not that customer is willing to close the deal and buy the product.
        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          Couldn't they just set their list price at a significant markup to compensate for it?

          If the real value of their software is $5,000, but they start the negotiations at $10,000, then they should list it somewhere between $10,000-$12,000.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sumdumass (711423)

            The problem with that theory is the effect it has with people who look at the pricing and say "there are some other solutions that work well enough at cheaper prices".

            I would think that software marked at twice their real world value would scare a lot of people away before the chance to bargain ever comes into play. You don't really want people to consider other people's/company's software before yours just because of a marketing ploy. That's actually what is happening in this case with HP claiming confiden

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by theaveng (1243528)

          So HP salespeople are deceitful, trying to mislead customers into making them feel they got a good bargain (even though they paid exactly what everyone else pays). Sorry but I prefer honesty. I prefer openness. Same as any other retailer like Walmart or JCPenney. The list price is there for all to see, and not hidden behind a bunch of marketing BS, and sleight of hand.

          I'd tell HP to go frak off. If I want to tell my friends, colleagues, whoever that I was able to get HP software for 50% off the list pr

          • salespeople are deceitful

            you didn't already know that? (I don't disagree with the gist of your post)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by isj (453011)

            The salespeople may be forced to do this. There are industries (eg. telco) where the procurement managers won't sign a contract unless there is a discount. If the salespeople know that then they are forced to advertise a higher base price.

            On the other hand, in some cases the discounts and negotiations are ridiculous. I once experienced a router vendor salesman responding to a coworker's concern for the price with "oh, no problem. You can get 50% discount". That is a bit silly.

            Haggling over the service, opti

          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by jhol13 (1087781)

            Sorry but I prefer honesty.

            No, you don't. You do not want to know how cheaply some other gets the same service, it would make you feel bad.

            You want to feel good.

            Don't deceive yourself thinking that everyone should get the same price.

            • by wiz_80 (15261)

              You also have to remember that the product is not worth the same amount to different people. One user might be very happy to shell out a million bucks and still consider it a bargain, while another will stretch to justify a hundred grand - for the exact same tool. I have seen this happen first hand.

              What happens then is that there will be a list price somewhere in between what the two users would be willing to pay. The first customer has a second item tacked on to the quote to make up some of the difference

            • by theaveng (1243528)

              It doesn't bother me if someone gets, say Guitar Hero III, for $10 at Walmart. I just congratulate them and ask how I could get a similar deal. And then I keep my eyes open for future deals.

          • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

            by Toll_Free (1295136)

            So HP salespeople are deceitful, trying to mislead customers into making them feel they got a good bargain (even though they paid exactly what everyone else pays). Sorry but I prefer honesty. I prefer openness. Same as any other retailer like Walmart or JCPenney.

            Guess you can't seem to think about the "Instant Discounts", "1 coupon Rebate", "Mail In Rebate", "1 Check Rebate", which Wal Mart and JC Penneys (you REALLY wear the clothes you purchase there, that deserves a down-mod on general principal) both take advantage of.

            Marketing is everywhere. Just because you look at the world in a different light than the rest of the sheeple really doesn't matter.... You can take your dollar elsewhere (where, I really don't know, since ALL retailers use these tactics)... Th

            • by theaveng (1243528)

              If HP and other Companies are not printing their list prices, then no, I can't take my dollar elsewhere because I'm not getting accurate information. I'm stumbling around in the dark. This is no different than a Wall Street company refusing to share their quarterly profit reports, thereby blocking stock purchasers/customers from making informed decisions.

          • by Thing 1 (178996)

            He can bend over and sck my ___ for all I care.

            Wouldn't that be better achieved by kneeling?

        • by Paralizer (792155) on Friday November 28, 2008 @10:14AM (#25916059) Homepage
          You're right, except I don't think making their list price public makes a whole lot of a difference. No one pays full price, it's just like a car dealership. So if a particular vendor has a higher price but a good product, you're probably still going to at least look at that product and get a custom quote. From there you decide if the product itself is a good match for you, and if it is then you can start working with the vendor to reduce the price.

          I just got my first IT job about a year ago fresh out of college. One of my first projects was to research, recommend, buy, and implement a particular product. I did some research and ended up being convinced this certain vendor has the best product for our needs. Their list price on their website was $29,000, +25% for each additional CPU over one, +20% support per year. I then called them, had a couple web demos, and began exchanging phone calls with the sales rep. What we wanted came out to about $75,000 with a 5 year support contract. Within a couple weeks (hey, this was my first time so it took a while) I had talked him down ~$40,000 with a 5 year support contract. It was easy, it didn't take a lot of negotiating, and I think I could have got him down more if I really wanted.

          My point is they will lower their prices without so much as you asking them to, and that is what they are counting on -- you get interested in the product, they sell it to you for less than list price, and you're a happy customer who hopefully has repeat business based on your positive experience. List price means very little.
          • by theaveng (1243528)

            Some people pay full price. My friend from China paid full price for an Acura car, because he didn't know he was supposed to haggle. He thought the price on the window was what everyone paid - just like in a store.

            • He didn't get TOO ripped off, I think, unless the car guide sites are showing inflated values. The dealer margins are big, but not far from 10% of the invoice price*, at least in the "budget" car regime.

              *Yes, I know about dealer incentives. Tack on another 5-10%, depending on where in the model year you are. It's still not, percentage-wise, nearly as much markup as, say, that $5 foot-long at subway.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cerberusss (660701)

            they sell it to you for less than list price, and you're a happy customer who hopefully has repeat business based on your positive experience

            However, the next time you *will* pay full price or at least closer to it.

            Or worse, over full price. A friend of mine asked his regular Dell accountmanager for a quote. When the quote turned out to be over the expected amount, he checked the website, and lo and behold -- the website price was lower :-) Turns out they give you a very low first price, then sometimes try to errrr... make up for that :-)

            • by wiz_80 (15261)

              Something else to bear in mind is that many companies sell you the software with an attractive discount, but then charge maintenance on the list price. Maintenance is typically somewhere between 18% and 20%, so if you score a 40% or 50% discount on the software itself, you are in for a nasty shock when maintenance renewal time comes up.

        • by durdur (252098)

          Another reason not to publish prices is that it facilitates unfair comparisons. An analyst firm or a competitor comes out with a report that says your software is 30% more expensive than a competitor's. That's probably bogus because of discounting and most people will realize that. But it can hurt you anyway.

        • by wiz_80 (15261) on Friday November 28, 2008 @01:39PM (#25917555)

          Actually actually, that's not how it works at all. I work for an enterprise software vendor, and the list price is where we start quoting from. If you buy ten seats, you get list price. Buy a hundred, we round it down to the closest round number. Buy thousands of seats, you get a big per-seat discount.

          We do this because we make it up on volume, not to mention the services large installations require, the kudos associated with big-name references, and so on. We never inflate list prices in quotes. In fact, I believe that is a termination offence at my current employer.

          That's not to say, of course, that some quotes don't get padded up before getting slimmed down again in front of the prospect's purchasing team, but we are talking about things like 24x7 support which can be negotiated down to 10x5, or using one pricing model when another might be more advantageous, but all of these are based on an unalterable price list.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MentlFlos (7345)
            Ah, so you don't change the price of the car but you add undercoating and "free" oil changes for 1 year. :D
            • by wiz_80 (15261)

              :-) Kind of, I suppose, but in this analogy the undercoating really is useful - just not to all drivers, perhaps only to those who drive off-road. As for the oil, think of it as a pre-paid bulk buy of oil. If you use less oil than you paid for, you lose, but if you use more, you win! You do an estimate of your oil consumption, taking into account consumption over the past year, projected changes in your driving, and so on (call it a Return on Investment calculation, or RoI), and if the purchase makes sense

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Friday November 28, 2008 @08:14AM (#25915355)

      That's exactly what happens in the whole construction material industry (at least in Europe).

      Every client (craftsman's business) gets a different price (or discount as they call it), depending on how a "good client" they are. (Depending on how much they like to keep you because you buy much and pay early, and so on).

      I'm pretty sure HP does the same. It makes sense to handle good old clients different than that new company that can't quite guarantee a quick payment.

      Of course, if that "bad" company starts to know how much they really can push the price, they might start making demands.

      On the other hand, this is a typical monopoly problem, because in working economies, the client can do the same, and pay more for quality suppliers.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday November 28, 2008 @11:55AM (#25916833)

      That and public display of pricing often cause consumers not to Apples vs. Apples type of purchase.
      Organization X get product A for $3,000
      Organization Y is told their software will cost $5,000

      Now the reason could have a huge amount of reasons.

      Organization X can be good at paying the bill while Organization Y takes forever and needs numerous calls to get it paid.
      Organization X has been a steady repeat customer. While Organization Y will purchase a product and will not purchase anything else in a long time.
      Organization X may have less need or proven to to be less of a support sink, while Organization Y is a constant problem.They
      Organization X may put a Powered by Your Company on its page. While Organization Y will not.

      They don't want their prices public because they don't want to know how they rank and value their customers. This is not evil or greedy, it is business. You want to keep good customers for the long term so you will be willing to cut your margins. But if the company is a problem and you don't see much opportunity take what you can get.

      You tend to do the same thing as an employee. You are willing to work for less per hour if you know you job is relatively stable like you will have consistent paid work. vs. if your a 1090 employee where you charge 3x as much per hour for your work because you know there could be weeks or months you may not get paid for, and if your quality isn't up to snuff you may not get paid for your work. Or if there is a job you don't like or have to work hours you don't want to you usually ask for more pay to do undesirable work. The same thing with companies and their customers. If the customers try to rip them off then the company will build in padding to prevent this.

      Some big companies will take a 10% discount off the top if they pay on-time for your services as part of the contract (after they agree the rate) so what happens when it is time to re-contract the rate the client will add 20% to the price. While their other client who is more friendly may get a deal which is 10% less then the the first company at start because they have been good at paying on time.

      Companies like to reward good customers. But unfortunately if the reward is public bad companies see it as being punished as bad customers.

      The bible passage explains this well: Matthew 20:1-16 (You don't need to believe in the mythicism but take it as a philosophical example)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by billcopc (196330)

        bad companies see it as being punished as bad customers

        So where's the problem ? If I'm fed up with a resource-hogging deadbeat, I let them know and they are free to hog someone else's time instead. They stick around because they have nowhere else to go, or they know the competition sucks...

        If HP has a legitimate reason to charge a different price, I think they should man up and be perfectly frank about it, like saying "Shitty clients pay more, because they cost more to support".

        Coddling those shitty clients only leads to more shitty clients draining your reso

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jellomizer (103300)

          Well Pissing off bad customers gets the effect of bad press towards you. However rewarding good customers will improve the chances that they will give good press to you. Even if they are Bad customers you need to make sure they have a fair deal, as they don't have a reason to hate you and give you bad press. However if they are a good customer and get a deal, they will have a reason to like you better. You make your public prices for the average bad customer when they prove themselves you give them a be

          • by billcopc (196330)

            You're making the assumption that the bad customer's opinion has any traction. When the market is so huge, as it is in the computer industry, we don't need to be fighting over the bony scraps of consumerism. Inevitably, some bottom feeder will come along and pander to all the scum, and he will earn his living. The rest of us can enjoy a scum-free business.

            You needn't look further than the PC vs Mac debate for an example of this. Apple doesn't want a piece of the competitive budget segment, because it's

      • > This is not evil or greedy, it is business.

        It's greedy because if you really believed in your pricing schemes you could be open and stand by them.
        No, instead you prefer to use UD (as in FUD minus the F) to get a better cut for you without accounting for it.
        Quoting bible shit flags you as a loon automatically, that passage justifies HP for charging whatever they want, nobody is discussing that, this is about HP trying to silence third parties to keep its costumers immersed in ig

        • How is giving a good customer a discount greedy? If you are going to get open pricing all it will end up is everyone paying more, as they will be forced to be greedy and keep pricing larger then smaller if they need to advertise their pricing, then they need to keep margins high to cover the good and the bad favoring the bad.
          You are pissed because you are such a jerk to the company that they will charge you the full price. While the guy who is actually nice to them gets a discount. I doubt that you have e

          • Christian hypocrisy at its best. My post argues that and I could simply tell you to reread it over and over.

            This is your pretend scenario: "My prices are fair but I give discounts to nice guys, but please don't let my ugly customers I despise know about it because it can hurt their feelings".

            Laughable bullshit.

            Real world scenario: "I try to see how gullible are the clients to charge as much as I can and still make them believe I'm giving them special favors".

    • How dare you suggest the possibility of corporate paranoia in the upper echelons of HP! Such a thing could never happen! Hell would freeze over first.

      Damn, where's that chilly draft coming from...?

    • by lpq (583377)

      When some government auditor wonders why they paid $20K for an HP laptop instead of the $1150.00 quoted pricing, it's a pain for the buyer to have to explain that they have a special contract through which they get their HP computers:

      * First going through a NO-BID Alaskan Native American firm (except from normal bid process because they are a qualifying minority) in AK (they hold back $7K as handling fee).

      * Second, they kick back 2.3K to the state senator's political committee for re-election, and have some

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:15AM (#25915107)

    I thought that is what their name stands forâ¦

  • by Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:16AM (#25915111)
    but "Enterprise" software is normally never sold at the list price, so I suspect that HP doesn't what the list price used in a comparison, because they aren't actually going to sell it at that price.
    • by theaveng (1243528)

      I don't know about "enterprise" marketing, but in retail marketing that's called false advertising. If you advertise a list price but never sell anything at that price, it's an illegal and misleading act. HP should be held to the exact-same standards.

      • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday November 28, 2008 @12:13PM (#25916963) Journal

        It's not technically illegal. As long as the consumer knows how much they are paying before the sale is final, that's all that matters. If you go into discounts retail shops you will see the price listed as the manufacturer printed them on the box. This is the list price (MSRV) and then somewhere there will be a sign saying "All X some percent off" or even "all X this price".

        You can and do have price points in marketing and certain customers can and do get different points based on a number of things too. I have one vendor that gives me almost 50% off the lists price if I spend over $10,000 a month (they have steeper discounts but I never have hit higher then this for an average). The rest of the time, the price point set me at 35% below the price. Where it becomes deceptive is where it costs more then the advertised price or when the customer doesn't know the real price before ordering/paying.

        I'm willing to bet that if you check your state's false advertising laws or deceptive business practices laws, there is some requirement for it to harm consumers or be potentially harmful to consumers before it can be enforced.

      • by Rary (566291)

        I don't know about "enterprise" marketing, but in retail marketing that's called false advertising.

        First, they're not advertising it. In fact, this very article is about them preventing it from being advertised.

        Second, "false advertising" really refers to the product, not the price. Prices are almost always variable. If a commercial comes on TV and says "buy product X for only $29.99", but your particular favourite store has it on sale for $19.99, do you complain that it was false advertising?

        In this case, the point is that there really isn't a true list price. There is just a starting point from which t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:16AM (#25915113)

    How arrogant! What's next, software that feels it doesn't need programmers?

  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:21AM (#25915129)
    another fine example of the barbara streisand effect in the making.

    see...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect [wikipedia.org]

    stupid. sometimes I wonder how these executives think, or even if.
  • Erm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:26AM (#25915141)
    I thought this was pretty much standard in a large number of industries, especially when contracts are involved.

    If your prices become well known, you leave yourself open to being undercut or pissing off other customers who weren't as good at negotiating a deal. Conversely, if you're making a bid for an exclusive licence and the amount you're bidding becomes public, a rival can come in and bid slightly higher to sabotage you.

    • Re:Erm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yaa 101 (664725) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:57AM (#25915279) Journal

      Erm... this is called open market.

      • by abigsmurf (919188)
        And? An open market means they're free to price their goods at whatever they want to whoever they want and people can choose to buy or not buy at those prices. It has nothing to do with making their quotes confidential.

        It's pretty hard for a single company to be a cartel or fix prices by themselves in a competative industry.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by syntaxglitch (889367)

          And? An open market means they're free to price their goods at whatever they want to whoever they want and people can choose to buy or not buy at those prices. It has nothing to do with making their quotes confidential.

          On the other hand, a free market itself isn't all that great. For a free market to provide optimal results, a variety of other conditions must be met, one of which is that all market participants have perfect information.

          Trying to keep prices secret is one popular way that companies try to give the middle finger to the Invisible Hand and profit off of engineered market inefficiency.

          • On the other hand, a free market itself isn't all that great. For a free market to provide optimal results, a variety of other conditions must be met, one of which is that all market participants have perfect information.

            If prices are secret it's not a free market. Not arguing with you, just pointing out that not all markets are free.

  • by cjfs (1253208) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:26AM (#25915145) Homepage Journal

    That "publicly available at GSA Advantage" link from the article goes to:

    Session Terminated Your Advantage! or e-Buy session has been terminated for one of the following reasons: ...

    So was it really publicly available?

    Also they'd have to state that HP authorized it to be public on the GSA site. Otherwise you could just have two sites referencing each other saying the info is already public.

    • That "publicly available at GSA Advantage" link from the article goes to:

      Session Terminated
      Your Advantage! or e-Buy session has been terminated for one of the following reasons: ...

      So was it really publicly available?

      Also they'd have to state that HP authorized it to be public on the GSA site. Otherwise you could just have two sites referencing each other saying the info is already public.

      Well, considering that GSA Advantage is readily accessible and searched from gsa.gov; it's pretty much publically available.

      The only disclaimer on GSA Advantage's main page is:

      *** WARNING *** This is a U.S. General Services Administration computer system that is "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY." This system is subject to monitoring. Therefore, no expectation of privacy is to be assumed. Individuals found performing unauthorized activities are subject to disciplinary action including criminal prosecution. Privacy and

      • "For Official Use Only" is a type of non-public but unclassified government information. Which means that either that website shouldn't be there or the banner shouldn't be there...

        Wiki page on FOUO [wikipedia.org]

        • "For Official Use Only" is a type of non-public but unclassified government information. Which means that either that website shouldn't be there or the banner shouldn't be there...

          Wiki page on FOUO [wikipedia.org]

          I'm not sure that it's a FOUO classification but a statement of use similar to US Gov vehicles that say FOUO but certainly are not document.

          I'd say the banner was incorrectly used if they really meant it to be FOUO.

  • Sad. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lobiusmoop (305328) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:32AM (#25915171) Homepage

    I remember when HP was run by Engineers, not the marketing and legal department.

    • by amorsen (7485)

      I remember when HP was run by Engineers, not the marketing and legal department.

      They still are, but they changed name to Agilent.

    • Re:Sad. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @08:49AM (#25915527)

      I've been a software developer at HP for a little while since my previous employer was aquired. The amount of sales propaganda bullsh*t we get fed is rediculous.

      HP has an online 'garage' thing where staff are supposed to submit ideas in the hope that their ideas are supported and developed. It's aimed at the technical staff to 'foster innovation', and yet the ideas are judged on how much money they can make HP and how fast. Nothing to do with making the world a better place, despite what their propaganda (like "the HP way") spews.

      It should be noted that I view the average slashdot poster as a naive socialist hippie compared to myself, but maybe HP could do with some of that...

      My impression of HP is that it's a massive hypocritical money-grubbing sales team.

      • Re:Sad. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday November 28, 2008 @10:37AM (#25916231) Homepage Journal

        This is why judgments on corporations or people should be made on what they do, not what they say. It's easy to say anything. It's harder to make actions lie.

        That said, people that believe corporations aren't out to make the most money that they can really don't understand how corporations generally work. They're not out to improve the world unless that's where they make the most money. I think you can blame stockholders for that, and maybe more specifically, day traders on the part where corporations look for the quickest bang for the buck, those people are often the kind that are eager to make a quick buck, not build wealth over the long term.

      • by Trip6 (1184883)
        Sounds like you need a new job big fella...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tehcyder (746570)

        My impression of HP is that it's a massive hypocritical money-grubbing sales team.

        If you find a company's culture objectionable then leave, it's not like you've been drafted into the army or something.

      • by Trojan35 (910785)

        It's aimed at the technical staff to 'foster innovation', and yet the ideas are judged on how much money they can make HP and how fast.

        If I were an HP shareholder, I would be absolutely appalled to find out they were trying to make me more money. Appalled I tell you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HiThere (15173)

          Considering that the path they're choosing to "make money" is offending past repeat customers, you *ought* to be offended.

  • Pricing is marketing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sobrique (543255) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:33AM (#25915181) Homepage
    This one is easy. They keep their pricing quiet, because they use it as sales and marketing manipulations - give them a list price that's insanely high, after you've vaguely got them interested, but then negotiate a discount of some huge percentage.

    This is a long standing scam, where there person 'handling' the deal gets credit for saving oodles of money on the list price, and the salesman has negotiating room to figure out just where he's padding his commission. The list prices are therefore completely unrealistic, and they don't want them published because that might stop people talking to them in the first place.

    I can tell you for certain that we (as in, large financial sector company) get 50-75% _discount_ terms with quite a lot of our vendors of IT hardware. I don't know what the rate is with HP hardware (we do use it) but I know it's a substantial reduction on 'list' price.

    • Just try to get a price on the higher end CAD/CAM/CAE software with out talking to a vendor or some other middleman. I can't stand the way the prices are secret. It is like they give different prices to different customers. Just tell me what it costs to buy. If there is volume discounts (for more seats) fine, publish that as well.
  • IT pricing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pegdhcp (1158827) on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:42AM (#25915223)
    Most IT related producers, prefer to have very high (higher than reasonable) prices in their GPLs, and then apply a big discount to that price when an actual customer shows up. This is useful for seller, because s/he can say, "see how much we value your business, and cut into our profit just to have you as a customer" and is also useful for buyer, because it is not easy to convince suits, that IT is something you need to spend money on and you cannot use advices from 14 years old neighborhood kids. So by claiming it was sooo expensive and you bargained a big chunk from seller, you can get the signature for backup tapes you need since last week. However as any kind of trader tends to make bigger favors to bigger customers, sellers need to keep their discount rates secret, in order to be able to keep negotiation power.
    Just to keep regular IT types in the dark, some firms claim that their GPLs are trade secrets etc. but in fact that is not right. For example a big Network firm, who is obsessed with blue-green boxes and originated from San Francisco, do not give GPL to customers publicly, but their sales representatives hand out them as a very secret, job risking (!) favor. And while everybody know that their regular discount rate in my country starts at 32%, I saw some certified engineers of that company on the customer side, claiming obtaining an amazing 20% discount, thus buying equipment 17% above the market, and showing themselves as indisposable negotiators to some upper level managers, who do not know the difference (or lack of, depending on the case) between a computer and calculator...
    • by RMH101 (636144)
      +1 to all above, and in addition:
      Pricing is seldom just ordering of a specific licence or service. HP (and any other big vendor) will want to consider what other services they'll be selling alongside that, and make a pricing decision based on the bigger picture. E.g. we've just got a 75% discount on Oracle licencing - partly because it's their year end coming up and they want the sales numbers, and partly because they know that the project the licences are being used for will scale up and up over the nex
      • I don't how you will be using it but it seems it makes more sense to you to drop oracle for postgres.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @07:57AM (#25915281)

    HP found out that one of their competitors (GroundWork) has HP's confidential documents. They shouldn't have those - somebody has obviously broken an NDA. Do GroundWork have any other NDA'd documents that would allow them to unfairly compete against HP? HP probably don't know. So HP are investigating, and one way they are doing that is by asking GroundWork where they got the document from. (Oh and they also ask for the document to be returned and for GroundWork to stop using it; that doesn't stop GroundWork from quoting HP prices because they can just get the prices from the GSA site).

    GroundWork is doing a very good job of spinning this so people report "HP don't want everyone to know they're expensive". And that's a nonsense story - anyone seriously considering buying HP is going to ask HP for a price, they don't need to find out from GroundWork! (And GroundWork can quote the prices from the GSA site anyway). But it pushes GroundWork's key marketing message - "we're cheaper than HP" - and gets them namechecks and sympathy on blogs - so congratulations to GroundWork for excellent marketing.

    • by Yfrwlf (998822)
      GroundWork is doing a very good job of spinning this so people report "HP don't want everyone to know they're expensive".

      But that may very well be the truth, nothing you've said is a lie. HP may very well have a much higher "list price" even if they don't usually end up selling at that price, though some businesses with lots of money I'm sure do buy it at that price allowing HP to rip them off. It's information that should be known any way and you shouldn't be able to violate the freedom of speech wit
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        It's corporate BS like this that makes life suck for everyone else. Competitive pricing is one thing businesses try to hide as much as possible so that they can backstab others. I'm glad it's being publicized, and I hope it gets HP to lower their list price so they won't be able to fuck over so many consumers and will have to start actually competing fairly. How could you stand up for fuck-you-over corporate tactics when this information should be free and they shouldn't be able to do that?

        Which is off co
        • So these developers that developed the software for free were somehow coerced into doing it, or did they do it fully willfully and while being aware of the possobility of their work being sold later? Maybe those developers even included a licence with their code that explicitely allows others to do precisely what GroundWork is doing... who knows.
          • I don't believe they were fooled by the company in any way. I don't believe that Groundwork takes advantage of backdoors or fools the developers. What I do believe is that this whole story is BS: the "poor little open source company" is portrayed as a victim of a mad greedy multinational. It's the kind of stereotypical reaction you get whenever a /. post has the words "microsoft" or "open source" in it. It's been going on for a couple of months [thevarguy.com], BTW. As what appears to be the rule here lately, /. is bringin
            • by Yfrwlf (998822)
              As typical of Slashdotters, I didn't actually RTFA, so I didn't even know it was about open source. The only part I read about was they were trying to keep prices secret, and that their prices were fake any way because they'd never actually sell at those prices, or rarely, and would sell for like 50% cheaper or something. Those were the points I was commenting on and nothing more, I don't care what kind of software they sell, I think it's good that their fake prices were attacked because it sounds like it
            • I am sorry, but the content of what you wrote, specifically

              Which is off course much worse than selling software other people wrote for free and competing with companies that pay their programmers.

              is either simply trollish or shows your complete misunderstanding of what F/OSS is and what F/OSS developers fo, independently of what you believe the story to be. The standard "slashdot is nothing but F/OSS groupthink blah blah balh" line does in no way change that.

              If you cannot find huge, significant nuances in the "slashdot crowd" and its ideology, that only tells something about you.

              • Here's a challenge for you: find me one post in the history of slashdot truly in favour of MS or in disrespect of LNX which has a score 4 or above - and I'm not talking about (funny) and the likes.
      • by easyTree (1042254)

        How could you stand up for fuck-you-over corporate tactics..

        Isn't the 'fuck-you-over' redundant in the sense of 'wet water' ?

        • by Yfrwlf (998822)
          Do I think there's a difference between fair, upfront pricing, and what is basically a pricing scam here? Yes.

          If HP wants to pretend their software is normally sold at 200% the actual cost it normally gets sold for, other companies should call them out on that. Those fake prices should be condemned along with the company behind them for doing it. Not to mention competition can't function without the ability for consumers to compare pricing.
    • by Headcase88 (828620) on Friday November 28, 2008 @10:51AM (#25916329) Journal
      "Anyone seriously considering buying HP is going to ask HP for a price, they don't need to find out from GroundWork"

      ... why should I waste my time getting prices from different competitors when I could get all the information from one source? Sounds like bullshit to me.

      Imagine if you went to a grocery store, but none of the price tags were there. You had to ask someone at the cash register for the price of each product (and negotiate your way down). So a competing grocery store that doesn't force you into these negotiations lets you compare the list prices and... you know the rest. Worse yet, there are only 4 grocery store chains in the world, 3 chains have the no price tag practice, and the remaining one doesn't have the brand names and shiny colours that your children like. Talk about getting in the way of the free market.

      The only difference here is that only corporations are buying the products, so it only affects the small % of the population that purchases\negotiates for them. Hence no public outrage. Also, instead of children, it's executives, but the shiny colours point stands.
    • "HP found out that one of their competitors (GroundWork) has HP's confidential documents. They shouldn't have those - somebody has obviously broken an NDA. "

      NDA's are unenforceable, (have no legal standing), once the information can be obtained by legal means.. I.E. HP's official pricing disclosure to the GSA [gsaadvantage.gov] in order to secure government business, (required by law).

      After that occurs, HP has no case and no standing to sue anybody for using that information.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Huh? GSA pricing is public information. GSA prices are only available to state & federal government entities.

        For everyone else, HP gets to set "other" prices and these certainly are trade secret. And protected by NDA, I am sure. Clearly they are going to sue and find the leaker. This information is protected for a reason.

    • Of course, sending out their pricing under NDA with client-specific random differences in the pricing would allow them to know instantly which customer revealed the data.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      GroundWork is doing a very good job of spinning this so people report "HP don't want everyone to know they're expensive"

      Why would they be using NDAs if the latter is not the case?

    • by Quothz (683368)

      HP found out that one of their competitors (GroundWork) has HP's confidential documents. They shouldn't have those - somebody has obviously broken an NDA.

      anyone seriously considering buying HP is going to ask HP for a price, they don't need to find out from GroundWork!

      You're saying that the document is confidential but contains information available for the asking? And that an employee broke an NDA by giving out information that the company gives out freely? Nonsense; you're blithering. First, if HP freely gave out pricing information, they wouldn't claim it's confidential. Second, there's no obvious NDA violation; I say it's obvious that an HP rep left the pricing guide on the bus by mistake.

      Do GroundWork have any other NDA'd documents that would allow them to unfairly compete against HP?

      I strongly doubt that anyone at GroundWork has signed an NDA with Hewlett-Packa

  • but which doesn't question the veracity of the pricing (which, not surprisingly, is 82 percent higher than the open-source vendor's

    HP's pricing is 545% higher. That's some fine arithmetic there, Lou.

  • They do give different deals to different people. Price isn't too important in their market position. The main reason that Open Source Vendors have trouble competing is that if I hire HP for a solution and it sucks then HP screwed the company and you switch vendors. If I hire some Open Source vendor and they suck then I get fired for not having gone with HP or IBM or Microsoft.
  • doesn't the FTC have clear rules on pricing schemes? Seems like it could be a bait and switch.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mysidia (191772)

      doesn't the FTC have clear rules on pricing schemes? Seems like it could be a bait and switch.

      Bait and switch occurs when a vendor advertises a product at a low (unprofitable price.

      Whenever a customer inquires, or places an order, intending to buy, it is revealed that the item is no longer available, or out of stock, so they CANNOT buy it, but there is an alternative (more expensive) substitute available.

      i.e. This occurs when a retailer advertises a huge sale on a product just to get people to come t

  • Good work there HP! You just made 10s of thousands of people aware of this upstart that offers product at a reduced price with a bogus complaint.

  • I can't believe the comments here.

    The basic reason that companies do not want to release pricing on B2B sales not just that they charge different prices to different customers. If you are an idiot and shopping for a large server you might look at web sites for pricing and choose solely based on price. You would be demonstrating to everyone that you are an idiot, but some companies do indeed employ idiots.

    So you discover that the server with 1024 processors and 12 terabytes of RAM from an unknown company i

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Friday November 28, 2008 @01:57PM (#25917701)

    I was working for Compaq during their merger and one thing that came to light during that time was that one of the HD suppliers was charging hp more (about $0.80 more if memory serves) for the same drives they sold Compaq. Not a lot for one device but in bulk it's huge. I heard there were some pretty heated "discussions" with the vendor shortly thereafter. This is why manufacturers do not like having their pricing known.

  • It seems pretty reasonable, really - HP wants folks to compare on features, not price, since HP has a big infrastructure to support, and their competitor doesn't. Their competitor, of course, wants to focus on their greatest strength, price. For as long as I've been working in IT, it has been common for pricellists to be marked "Confidential", and I tend to think HP has the right to keep their confidential documents confidential.

    I once worked at a large grocery chain, and while competiton is great, when an

  • It is common practice to offer discounted pricing to customers that have bought a lot previously. Sales software often displays customer's previous pricing so the salesman knows what to ask for. Price is often what the market will bare. This is why salesman issue quotations good for a month. They contain adjusted pricing they will honor for a short period of time. Then there are pricing schemes that adjust if you buy something else, like Intel selling you eproms cheap if you also buy your ram from them. Th

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