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Contracts, Biases and Consumption of Access Services

  • Stephen G. Leider
  • Özge Sahin

We consider a consumption model that takes into account the valuation and demand uncertainties that consumers face while using access services. Typical examples of such services include telecommunication services, extended warranties for consumer electronics, and club memberships. We demonstrate that consumption is affected by contract structure (pay-peruse vs. three part tariffs) even if the optimal consumption plans are identical. We find that a majority of individuals correctly use a threshold policy that is similar to a nearly optimal heuristic, however they use the free units too quickly leading to overconsumption and lost surplus. These errors are partially driven by mistaken beliefs about the value distribution. We also measure subjects’ willingness to pay for a contract with free access units, and we find that nearly half of subjects are willing to pay at least the full per-unit price, with a substantial fraction willing to overpay. The optimal firm strategy is therefore to offer a contract that presells access units at a very small discount; this strategy increases revenue by 8 − 15% compared to only offering a pay-per-use contract.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3698.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3698
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  1. repec:bla:restud:v:73:y:2006:i:3:p:689-714 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Matt Shum & S Esteban & E Miyagawa, 2003. "Nonlinear Pricing with Self-Control Preferences," Economics Working Paper Archive 503, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  3. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2003. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance and Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 297-310, March.
  4. Miravete, Eugenio J, 2002. "Estimating Demand for Local Telephone Service with Asymmetric Information and Optional Calling Plans," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 943-71, October.
  5. Kfir Eliaz & Ran Spiegler, 2004. "Contracting with Diversely Naïve Agents," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000530, UCLA Department of Economics.
  6. Anja Lambrecht & Katja Seim & Bernd Skiera, 2007. "Does Uncertainty Matter? Consumer Behavior Under Three-Part Tariffs," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(5), pages 698-710, 09-10.
  7. Arkes, Hal R. & Blumer, Catherine, 1985. "The psychology of sunk cost," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 124-140, February.
  8. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2008. "Consumer optimism and price discrimination," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(4), December.
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