>But there is a difference between stating a *desire* to conduct
>business a certain way and stating: I *do* conduct business in a
>certain way. One is either blue-skying or collusion. The other is no
>different than taking a survey and publishing the results, as noted
>below in your examples as OK...
>P.S. I expect some argument from you... ;7)
Heh, heh, no argument here.
I'm far from an expert on this, so I don't claim to understand all the
complexities. I'm not even sure the lawyers do because many of these
questions have never come up in court. The law is sufficienctly vague that
noone knows how the courts will interpret it until somebody gets sued. It's
kind of like the "Fair Use" exemption in copyright law. Kinko's thought
that making course packets for instructors was "Fair Use" until they got
sued for it (and lost).
Many professional organizations apparently don't want to "test the waters"
so they avoid the issue altogether by prohibiting any kind of pricing
discussion. I do think there's a way to discuss pricing without crossing
the line into price fixing. As you said, it's one thing to say "this is how
much I charged for this job" as opposed to "this is how much you *should*
charge" or "this is the 'going rate' for this kind of work".
If you own a gas station, all you have to do is drive down the street to
see what your competitors are charging. I think this is why salary/pricing
surveys are OK - it's simply a collection of factual statements about what
people have charged in the past. It's not a set of guidelines for what you
*should* charge (although I think many less experienced illustrators will
use it that way). Then again, maybe nobody has gotten around to suing the
people who post these surveys. Who knows if they're really legal or not?
A number of people have already touched on this, but I think the bottom
line is that each individual has to come up with a pricing scheme that
makes snese to them. This will take into account all sorts of factors -
geographic location, experience, your reputation, your overhead costs, how
much you think you're worth, etc. You'll come up with a number which may be
higher or lower than your competitors. As long as you can live with it,
*that's* what you should charge. You may find that you have to adjust those
rates based on the market response - if your quote gets turned down every
time, you're too high; if every client jumps at your proposal, you may be
Furthermore, if someone else can do the same job in less time or keep their
overhead costs down, they can charge less for it. They will get more work
and will prosper. Meanwhile, someone who works slowly or has high expenses
may lose out. This is how competition is supposed to work and ultimately
it's supposed to benefit the consumer by keeping prices as low as they can
be. Of course, it doesn't always work that way in the real world
(Microsoft) but that's the theory behind anti-trust laws.