|Ignorance is Not Blissful|
|Key Words||Prices, differential, discounts, special offers, quality, information|
Prices vary between the UK and other countries in Europe. Automobile prices are 21 percent higher in the UK than in Europe, although this is half the differential of a year ago. The price of mobile telephones was formerly much greater but is now similar to Europe. Compared to France, UK consumers still pay more for transport, property, and restaurant meals. However, the French pay more for clothes, household equipment and pharmaceuticals.
Why do consumers put up with the price differentials? In part it is due to the disguising of the true price. Often, there is a bewildering range of prices, discounts and special offers.
The confusion may cause consumers to respond favorably to price cuts, but then they may find that the lower prices are accompanied by reductions in quality. The solution to this particular problem is to publish comparative information, much like consumer watchdog magazines. If consumers know the prices and qualities of the products on the market, they can make more informed decisions. It would also help keep prices low.
(Updated March 1, 2001)
|Source||Andreas Whittam Smith, "Why do we pay so much for our cars and mobile phones?" The Independent, February 12, 2001.|
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