Some businesses have straight model, others advertise you extremely low prices which have nothing to do with what you will pay in the end because of various not so obvious items. Sometimes it is related to specific industry and sometimes just to some players tricking the customers with some of the prices.
In general I think US is more prone to this compared to Europe. In Europe when you have the price it typically includes VAT and other prices so it is the price you’re going to pay. Not so in US with Sales Tax ommited from the price. I remember number of friends comming to visit falling for the trick surprised to learn $3 in cash do not buy $2.99 cup of coffe. Also in many European countries the tip is indeed optional in US it is considered hiden part of the price – you would not avoid pain it in the restaurant you go for lunch every day. It can be even forcibly added to your bill for large parties in many restaurants.
For Percona Training we just have been deeling with a similar trap with a hotel. What a time waster. Some hotel would advertise very low room rates but if you learn about insignificant extras which you’re going to need they can cost 3x-5x of advertised room cost. How would you like for example Wireless internet access for one day having same cost as the room or permission to use your own projector being over half a room price.
What really annoys me with such industries it is probably very hard to do business if you price things straight playing fair. If you advertise full prices which is structured in obvious and straight way you probably would not have people even call you so you could explain them how things work out.
This pricing scam actually goes more. I constantly spam by mail to get something for free (just paying $15 of shipment and handling) . This goes to continue to more fine sales tricks going back to fine print. Some businesses like banks may bite you with fees which you never would know existed.
Another innovation (which smells more like as scam to me) which I see quite commonly used by banks having your credit cards offering you something for free – free gas free air ticket etc, just asking you to mark yes sign and mail back the card. The fine print however would say you’re subscribing to some service by accepting this offer.
I’m very surprised and somethat dissapointed in US with so many litigations and crazy laws there are no laws in this area or they are not enforced well allowing all kind of consumer deception. I can only speculate in consumer based economy goverment wants you to buy, so any business tricks which make you to buy more spend more borrow more would be supported and praised as innovations.
Happily with Percona we’re in the industry which allows to keep straight prices and we keep it this way. This bites sometimes with people complaining rates are high (because we do not play any tricks with them) but we do not need any deception or obfuscation to be in business.