I've regularly thought about the imbalance between consumers and companies providing services. Having worked in telecommunications, it's really obvious. We have whole teams of people sitting around working out ways to confuse people and make our products impossible to compare. The number of otherwise intelligent people who will swear that their phone is "free" says the techniques work.
My new blog, Informed Consumer, aims to explore this area. The tricks and techniques used to confuse and prevent meaningful comparison, and some ideas of what the authorities can do to enable meaningful comparisons.
The aim is to get the ideas of openness in regulated industries onto the agenda. We've seen how easily big businesses can roll our governments with the Grocery Choice and FuelWatch debacles, so I'd like to help them on these issues.
With Grocery Choice, the arguments of the supermarkets should have been tackled head on, thrown back at the supermarkets. "The data will be out-of-date as we change prices in every store multiple times a day" should have seen the response "so you manage to distribute this pricing information to the checkouts, so you guys are kinda experts at this". "The information won't be meaningful" should have been answered "well work with us to make it meaningful, or we'll impose something on you." Industries that aren't scared of meaningful competition won't be scared of this approach.
So have a read of Informed Consumer and jump in! Those of you who've complained that I don't have comments on this, my personal blog, will be pleased to see I've got comments on this new blog.