Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Confusion

It ocurred to me yesterday that the study of the inner workings and decisions of cell phone companies would be immensely fascinating. Liz and I were purchasing new phones--a replacement for one lost, and one failing--and trying to figure out which plan made the most sense to us (Liz did most of the work on that).

The woman setting up our new choices was rapidly going through a bewildering array of options (in a pretty crappy interface no less), and I had to wonder -- are there teams of accountants and actuarians devising these ever more complex plans to eek out a few extra cents here and there? laying traps for the unwary consumer? is it just bored cubicle farm workers seeking a little entertainment? or is it just a ploy to frustrate competition?

The answer fascinates me, partly because it bears on a conversation I've been having with a friend on the free market, which is somewhat related to the book I'm reading right now, Neal Stephenson's The Confusion - the middle (and overall much more fun) portion of his Baroque Cycle.


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