Does anyone know the price anymore of an automobile, a fast-food meal, an airplane ticket, a bag of lawn fertilizer or a dozen other products that might come to mind?

Pricing no longer is simple and straightforward. It is tricky, confusing, surprising, exasperating and in-explicable, to mention a few characteristics. Someone with imagination could make a list that would gird the globe.Retailer discounts, manufacturer discounts, discount-option packages, sales, rebates, below-cost financing, fees, specials, exceptions and exemptions produce a challenge to which few buyers are equal.

The time of day on which you make your phone calls can mean full price or a 65 percent discount, but that isn't the only thing that complicates your phone bill. Do you own your phone or do you rent? Do you own or rent the jacks?

The day of the week on which you travel by air can mean paying half-price or regular price. But the discount might be available only if you fly through a certain city on the way to your destination . . . if there is room on the flight.

Do you know how interest is assessed on your credit card or whether you pay an annual service fee? Do you know the rate? Bluntly speaking, do you know what your card costs?

The difficulty in pricing was illustrated in recent weeks when General Motors and Ford raised prices on options but not the basic prices of all cars. The effect is to further complicate attempts to assess prices.

It happens in fast-food restaurants too. The big sign advertises a juicy hamburger with lettuce and tomato for $1.99, but when the bill comes it adds up to more than $4. The cheese costs 75 cents, the side salad about the same. The small cola, tea or coffee costs at least 70 cents.

Over at the local lending institution, meanwhile, they're pushing low-cost mortgages, but are points included? At the real estate office they offer help in getting a mortgage, but do they mention they might take a fee for doing so?

At the garden store they're having their spring sale, and that means fertilizer rebates. Let's see: There's the regular price, the retailer discount and the manufacturer's rebate, which you claim by mail. Many forget to do so.