The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control and embedded systems. Control Engineering answers questions from readers of Control Engineering's print and online magazines, newsletters and other publications.

Why don’t you show prices?

Product announcements discuss features, but never prices. Why not?

March 04, 2011


Dear Control Engineering: When I read new product announcements or technology articles, you spend lots of time discussing functions and features, but how can I evaluate the value of a product if you don’t give the price?

It’s true that we don’t normally list prices when we discuss products. I won’t say it’s never happened, but mentioning a price is exceedingly rare.

There are many reasons for that. Here are a few:

1. Many products have too complex a price structure to make it practical. Often items have too many configuration options for us to list them all.

2. Information in our magazine and on our Website has too long a life. You can read a product release from several years ago on our site, and unless you’re paying close attention to the date, you might not realize how old it is. Since then, the price may have changed, which could be more or less depending on the technology.

3. Information in our magazine and on our Website can be read anywhere in the world. Pricing for all products is not the same in all global markets.

4. Perhaps the most compelling reason that we don’t list prices is that the manufacturers don’t want us to. Take a look at a typical issue of Control Engineering and see how many ads list products with prices. There are some that do it routinely, such as AutomationDirect and Omega, but these are generally for items that are less than $1,000 and sold directly to users with little or no special configuration. Products that are more complex are typically sold through more complex distribution channels, including company salespeople, regional distributors or rep organizations. Such groups like to have control over pricing, and if we publish numbers, that can confuse the issue. Some customers may receive preferential discounts, unique configurations, or other services bundled with the hardware, and there’s no way we can reflect that.

The best advice is to consult your supplier.

Peter Welander, pwelander(at)cfemedia.com