I was shopping online a few days ago for a nice fountain pen. When you want a fountain pen, you start with Mont Blanc. However, Mont Blanc publishes no prices online and they do not allow their retailers to do so either. The result? Many pages across the web featuring very nice Mont Blanc pens, each with a ‘contact for price’ button.
I bought a pen from Cross instead.
Price really wasn’t an issue here, it was convenience. I did not want to go through the hassle of having to interact with a human for what should have been a very simple, self-guided, impulse buy.
Controlling price information was a feasible strategy pre-Web. Keeping the numbers hush-hush prevents retailers from discounting competitions, protecting profit and the sales channel. This does not work when customers can easily price shop across the globe and expect to be able to make an informed purchase immediately.
I shudder to think of how many sales Mont Blanc forgoes with this dated tactic.
David, I agree that Mont Blanc’s pricing approach is a mismatch with Web commerce. I’ve been a pen collector for years and, as I understand it, the reason they don’t advertise prices is that they offer different levels of discount depending on the seller.
On a personal note, I wish you had contacted me about your pen purchase. Cross is fine, but if you were in the market for a Mont Blanc, I would have encouraged you to consider some other more comparable brands.
What other brands do you like?
Good points on the retail markets for luxury pens, nice work.
I love Pelikan and Lamy. Lots of pen and journal posts
on my blog that might interest you.