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Experts vs. discounters: consumer free riding and experts withholding advice in markets for credence goods

This paper studies price competition between experts and discounters in a market for credence goods. While experts can identify a consumer’s problem by exerting costly but unobservable diagnosis effort, discounters just sell treatments without giving any advice. The unobservability of diagnosis effort induces experts to use their tariffs as signaling devices. This makes them vulnerable to competition by discounters. We explore the conditions under which experts survive competition by discounters and find that there exist situations in which adding a single customer to a large population of existing consumers leads to a switch from an experts only to a discounters only market. We also discuss whether vertical restraints can alleviate these inefficiencies.

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File URL: http://www.econ.jku.at/papers/2005/wp0509.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series Economics working papers with number 2005-09.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2005_09
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  1. Winand Emons, 1994. "Credence Goods and Fraudulent Experts," Diskussionsschriften dp9402, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  2. Emons, Winand, 1998. "Product Differentiation and Price Competition Between a Safe and a Risky Seller," CEPR Discussion Papers 2041, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Wolfgang Pesendorfer & Asher Wolinsky, 1998. "Second Opinions and Price Competition Inefficiency in the Market for Expert Advice," Discussion Papers 1229, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Kai Sülzle & Achim Wambach, 2005. "Insurance in a Market for Credence Goods," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 72(1), pages 159-176.
  5. Howard P. Marvel & Stephen McCafferty, 1984. "Resale Price Maintenance and Quality Certification," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 346-359, Autumn.
  6. Emons, Winand, 2001. "Credence goods monopolists," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 375-389, March.
  7. Uwe Dulleck, 2000. "Where Are The Problems with Credence Goods?," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1441, Econometric Society.
  8. Ingela Alger & Francois Salanie, 2001. "A Theory of Fraud and Over-Consumption in Experts Markets," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 495, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 09 Nov 2004.
  9. Perry, Martin K & Besanko, David, 1991. "Resale Price Maintenance and Manufacturer Competition for Exclusive Dealerships," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(5), pages 517-44, September.
  10. Asher Wolinsky, 1993. "Competition in a Market for Informed Experts' Services," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 380-398, Autumn.
  11. Ting Liu, 2011. "Credence Goods Markets With Conscientious And Selfish Experts," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(1), pages 227-244, 02.
  12. Dulleck, Uwe & Kerschbamer, Rudolf, 2005. "Experts vs Discounters: Competition and Market Unravelling When Consumers Do Not Know What they Need," CEPR Discussion Papers 5242, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Klein, Benjamin & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "Vertical Restraints as Contract Enforcement Mechanisms," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 265-97, October.
  14. Bolton, Patrick & Bonanno, Giacomo, 1988. "Vertical Restraints in a Model of Vertical Differentiation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(3), pages 555-70, August.
  15. Bouckaert, J.M.C. & Degryse, H.A., 1998. "Price competition between an expert and a non-expert," Discussion Paper 1998-49, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  16. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
  17. Kala Krishna & Tor Winston, 2003. "If at First You Don't Succeed: Profits, Prices, and Market Structure in a Model of Quality with Unknowable Consumer Heterogeneity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 573-597, 05.
  18. Yuk-fai Fong, 2005. "When Do Experts Cheat and Whom Do They Target?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
  19. Taylor, Curtis R, 1995. "The Economics of Breakdowns, Checkups, and Cures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 53-74, February.
  20. Pitchik, Carolyn & Schotter, Andrew, 1987. "Honesty in a Model of Strategic Information Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1032-36, December.
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