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Changing the Numbers: UK Directory Enquiries Deregulation and the Failure of Choice

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  • Pollock, R.

Abstract

In 2003, the UK `liberalised' its telephone directory enquiries service with the aim of introducing competition so as to improve quality and lower costs. Unfortunately the results did not match expectations. Proliferation of numbers led to consumer confusion and high price firms with no discernible quality advantages but which employed heavy advertising came to dominate the market. Consumer and total welfare appear to have declined. This example raises important questions for regulators. In particular, with limits on information and rationality, it may sometimes be better to limit choice but increase competition to supply that choice.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0916.

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Date of creation: 07 Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0916

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Web page: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

Related research

Keywords: Competition; Deregulation; Advertising; Bounded Rationality;

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  1. Monica Giulietti & Catherine Waddams Price & Michael Waterson, 2005. "Consumer Choice and Competition Policy: a Study of UK Energy Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 949-968, October.
  2. M.C.J. van Rooij & C.J.M. Kool & H.M. Prast, 2005. "Risk-return preferences in the pension domain: are people able to choose?," Working Papers 05-04, Utrecht School of Economics.
  3. Newbery, David M & Pollitt, Michael G, 1997. "The Restructuring and Privatization of Britain's CEGB--Was It Worth It?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 269-303, September.
  4. Henrik Cronqvist & Richard H. Thaler, 2004. "Design Choices in Privatized Social-Security Systems: Learning from the Swedish Experience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 424-428, May.
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