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Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance, Learning, and Risk Aversion

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  • Miravete, Eugenio J

Abstract

It is commonly believed that consumers behave irrationally when subscribing optional telephone tariffs. The fact that they show a strong preference for flat rate options has commonly been interpreted as evidence of irrational behavior since such a choice is believed not to be cost-minimizing ex post in most cases. My results, obtained using the data from the 1986 Kentucky tariff experiment, contradict these views and provide strong evidence in favour of the rationality of consumers' choices. I found that expectations on future consumption play a major role in the choice of tariffs but also that consumption forecast errors are more related to the volume of local telephone usage than to any particular demographic profile. More importantly, the evidence shows that there exist important learning effects that induce tariff switching in order to minimize the magnitude of monthly bills even in the short term and responding to very small cost differences. Finally, risk aversion is ruled out as a possible source of consumers' biased taste for flat tariffs.

Suggested Citation

  • Miravete, Eugenio J, 2000. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance, Learning, and Risk Aversion," CEPR Discussion Papers 2562, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2562
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2002. "Estimating Demand for Local Telephone Service with Asymmetric Information and Optional Calling Plans," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 943-971.
    2. Eugenio J. Miravete, "undated". "Quantity Discounts for Taste-Varying Consumers," CARESS Working Papres 99-11, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
    3. Kridel, Donald J. & Lehman, Dale E. & Weisman, Dennis L., 1993. "Option value, telecommunications demand, and policy," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 125-144, July.
    4. Butler, J S & Moffitt, Robert, 1982. "A Computationally Efficient Quadrature Procedure for the One-Factor Multinomial Probit Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 761-764, May.
    5. Clay, Karen B & Sibley, David S & Srinagesh, Padmanabhan, 1992. "Ex Post vs. Ex Ante Pricing: Optional Calling Plans and Tapered Tariffs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 115-138, June.
    6. Srinagesh, P., 1992. "A Dynamic Stochastic Model of choice," Papers 78, Bell Communications - Economic Research Group.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Miravete, Eugenio J, 2001. "Quantity Discounts for Time-Varying Consumers," CEPR Discussion Papers 2699, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Miravete, Eugenio J & Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio, 2002. "Learning Temporal Preferences," CEPR Discussion Papers 3604, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2001. "Screening Through Bundling," Penn CARESS Working Papers 3b8e0b3847b08b90e8570987c, Penn Economics Department.
    4. Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio & Serrano, Roberto, 2006. "Rejecting small gambles under expected utility," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 250-259, May.
    5. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2002. "Estimating Demand for Local Telephone Service with Asymmetric Information and Optional Calling Plans," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 943-971.
    6. 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.
    7. Howell, Bronwyn, 2010. "Flat-Rate Tariffs and Competitive Entry in Telecommunications Markets," Working Paper Series 4053, Victoria University of Wellington, The New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Expectation Bias; Learning; Risk Aversion; Service Switching; Tariff Choice;

    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications

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