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The system of self-regulation by the market is highly acclaimed. Consumers are free to choose from a variety of brands and suppliers, brought to them by competing companies.

The company with the best product, that carries the fairest price, will automatically get ahead of its’ competitors. The only way competitors can react is by changing the price/quality ratio of their own product.

This mechanism will make sure that in the end we all will live in a consumer’s paradise and walk around with a happy face just like the people in commercials do.

What a nice fairytale this is….

My telephone subscription finally expires. After two years of grudgingly paying far too much I can start shopping for another provider. Prices have declined a lot in those two years. I won’t fall for the free phone that comes with a subscription again; this time I will go for a Sim card only, because a smart phone costs about 200 euros if I buy it myself. If I choose  a ‘free’ phone I pay about 50 euros a month extra for the subscription. A subscription that lasts 2 years; 24 months x 50 euros is 1200 euros! That kind of money will buy me a nice and long vacation.

By the way; the ‘free’ phone they gave me last time broke after only three months. I send it to my providers’ repair shop only to get returned. It’s not repaired since the repair shop detected water damage and the phone company doesn’t insure water damage. The phone never even got wet, but there’s no use trying to convince the costumer service of that. I had to buy a new phone and still paid the exorbitant subscription fee.

My doorbell rings, a sales rep from an electrical company is at the door. He starts telling me I can save a lot of money if I take a subscription with fixed prices in this era of ever-increasing prices for energy. The day before his visit I saw a TV show in which experts on economics talked about this hoax, so regrettably for him I’m a warned man. I tell him I’m not interested but he just goes on talking. I try to stay polite for about fifteen minutes but then I just throw the door in his face.

There are more irregularities in the energy market.  Price fluctuations are always calculated in favor of the provider; when oil prices go up your bill goes up immediately, but when they go down it takes a very long time for your provider to respond. Gas companies are even worse in this aspect; they only lower prices after oil prices have declined for several years, making them billions of extra dollars.

Same goes for the green energy hoax. You gladly pay more for clean energy don’t you? Until you find out that nuclear energy is also registered a ‘clean’ energy. The reason for that is real clean energy made with windmills or solar collectors isn’t available to fill the demand for it. And since nukes don’t spread greenhouse-gasses they are allowed to be sold as green energy. Fooled again!

In Holland you get the opportunity to switch to another health care insurance every year. That can save you hundreds of euros a year they say. It takes about a week to read all the different deals and the differences in prices are really minimal. So you choose for the cheapest of them and you pay extra every time you need any medication because you failed to notice some fine print.

At the supermarket one can buy a lot of detergents and as a good consumer you compare their prices. Some are really expensive and others are really cheap. The only difference you notice is the more expensive detergents smell a bit better and are dressed in brighter colors. In the end you choose with your eyes closed because you don’t like needing an hour to decide.

You start to realize you spend a lot of time reading liability, manuals, reports and consumer advice in newspapers, on TV or on the web about various products. And in the end you get screwed because no matter how well you try to choose, in the end you fall for the best known brand with the brightest package and the most appealing commercials. It seems as a consumer you’re nothing but a trained monkey.

A pseudo-science has risen on the subject of screwing people over in their choice for bare necessities and useless buys alike. That science is called marketing.

Did any products or services really become any better or cheaper due to the free market? NO they haven’t. The only result is a new class of fat cats who enrich themselves over the backs of consumers worldwide.

And what about the costumer focus and efficiency, that were promised? Forget about it! Call centers and costumer services are manned by teenagers who usually don’t have a clue about the product they represent, but are very cheap to hire. They are trained to go for quick results and sales only. Keeping costumers happy is not in the companies’ best interest anymore; profit margins increase if costumers are squeezed out of as much money as possible over a short period of time. Costumer loyalty is a thing of the past.

But what if I don’t feel like spending half my days comparing products and services that differ so little from each other in price and quality?

What if I see through the scheme of manufacturers and companies who are agreeing among each other to keep prices high even though that’s forbidden by law? Look at the telecoms market; we still pay about ten times more then necessary.

They can take their freedom of choice and shove it up their ass as far as I’m concerned. It seems to me this freedom of choice is devised only to fulfill the desire of grand industrials and utilities to screw their costumers under the banner of personal responsibility and completely stripped of any morals whatsoever.

The old idea of government controlled utilities seems a lot better to me. I want a good product for a fair price and a say in company policy through the ballot. I’m not interested in company shares. I want my government to see to it that I’m not screwed by the rich and spend my time doing the things I like doing instead of acting the consumer all of the time.

I want to buy detergents packaged in white boxes that just say ‘detergent’ without further inducements. I want commercial free television and radio stations and a town stripped of billboards and neon lights so I can see what my city really looks like again.

Can I please choose not having to choose?

(dit is de Engelse versie van ‘de terreur van de keuze’hieronder in het Nederlands te lezen)

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  1. By Democracy 2.0 « leensteen on 30 Okt 2011 at 9:23 am

    […] No choice but to choose Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInStumbleUponDiggVind ik leuk:LikeWees de eerste om post te waarderen. « Ongehoord: De Occupy special […]

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