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Pricing Discussion FAQ

By Lee Underwood

This FAQ is focused on the discussion of pricing, rates, and salary on the Jupitermedia forums.

Any discussion that may be construed as an attempt to fix prices is not allowed. This includes all discussions relating to pricing, rates, and salary in regards to programming, Web design, employment within the Web design business sector, as well as independant contractor and individual business relationships, and other related subject areas.

  • Note: Discussion of rates, what to charge, etc., within any of the forums will be sufficient grounds for an immediate ban by a forum administrator.

What is "price fixing"?

Any discussion of pricing by a group of people within the same industry is illegal in the U.S. It doesn't matter where, how, and when it happens. The federal government calls it price fixing. For additional information on the legal aspects of price fixing, you can visit the United States DOJ - Antitrust Division. This position by the federal government has been successfully proven in the federal courts of law.

Due to the large volume of traffic and number of members on our forums, it is impossible for Jupitermedia to determine the intent of our members' discussions about pricing. We, therefore, cannot determine whether exchanges of price information might hamper competition.

A couple of pertinent quotes:

  • "... the courts have developed a doctrine of 'per se' illegality which conclusively presumes such practices to be unreasonable. In other words, when a per se offense (such as price fixing among competitors) is charged, all the government or the private plaintiff must establish to make out a Section 1 violation is that the defendant has, in fact, engaged in the proscribed practice; illegality follows as a matter of law, no matter how slight the anticompetitive effect, how small the market share of the defendants, or how proper their motives." [Richard M. Steuer, Executive Summary Of The Antitrust Laws, Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler, LLP]
  • "A famous story locally in Washington DC involved a group of real-estate brokers who went out to dinner together to celebrate a birthday of one of them. At the end of the dinner, one broker announced that he was raising his commission from 5% to 6% and wanted them to hear it from him before reading about it in the trade press. No further discussion ensued. Over the next year, several of the others also raised their commissions to 6%. All of them were indicted, even those who did not raise their prices, for price fixing. Criminal indictments, I might add." [Lewis Rose, Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn]

What are acceptable and unacceptable topics?

Acceptable

  1. Types of services provided, levels of service, quality of service and such are acceptable.
  2. Standard rates are published for most industries by independent sources. For those who are curious about where to get information about salaries, costs, etc, asking for, or providing pointers to information provided by independent third parties is acceptable on the forums.
  3. If two people wish to take on a private discussion via e-mail, that is their affair. Jupitermedia cannot prevent, nor does it have any interest in, any private discussions between individuals.

Unacceptable

  1. Any specific prices for the following items:
    1. Products or services you are selling or are considering selling
    2. Web design services
    3. Graphic design services
    4. Web hosting services
    5. Programming of Web-based applications (Java, CGI, JavaScript, browsers, etc.)
    6. Internet access, mail list hosting, and other ISP services
    7. Web site advertising rates (banner ads, etc.)
    8. Internet consulting and training
    9. Salaries of webmasters and other Web professionals
  2. The list above is not exhaustve. If you are unsure if a topic is appropriate, please write to the Forum Online Manager and ask.
  3. Collusive statements: Any statement in a forum to the effect of: "that's a good price, we'll use that" implies or directly states that two parties have discussed a number (whether on the forum or in reference to a third party page) and that they have "agreed" to use that price is strictly forbidden on the forum. That is price fixing and it is prosecutable.

I have seen price guidelines published by magazines and other organizations. What's the difference?

Guides are not discussions. Those guides have all company specific information stripped from them, every service has a range of prices associated with it, the prices are compiled, and the contributors have become anonymous to the process.

What if I am not located in the United States?

Jupitermedia's headquarters and its forums are located within the United States. If a discussion takes place on the forum, we are responsible for its content and, therefore, liable for any illegal actions.

How can I find out what I should be charging for my service?

First of all, you need to remember that each geographical location has different costs, different services, and different markets. Asking a person in Los Angeles, California what they make or charge for a particular service isn't really applicable to someone in Boise, Idaho as the costs and markets are totally different. This would apply even less in a place outside the United States.

Rate and Salary Resources

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