Very true. However the "set up account before we will show you the price" rigamarole is most often to get around Minimum Advertised Price clauses in contracts with the manufacturers/wholesalers. If there is a side benefit of an increased conversion rate to a final sale, then that is great. That is not the primary reason for having the account policy in the first place. As a matter of fact I would be willing to wager that the account sign-up requirement drives away more buyers than it converts. Having worked in this area of retail, I would bet that Paul's would just as soon get rid of the requirement.
Don't get me wrong. Marketers are evil and should be among the first up against the wall when the revolution comes. But not every piece of information disseminated by a retailer is marketing shinola.