When it comes to gift giving, you already know the importance of shopping around. You likely have a list of cheap (all under $25) Christmas gift ideas. If you don’t find what you’re after at one store or website, you will just go to the next one. In that way, the U.S. is a consumerist paradise.
Many citizens of the world do not have this privilege. Their grocery stores do not have 17 different brands of catsup in 12 convenient size, in your choice of glass or plastic bottles. We not only have that kind of choice for catsup, but for everything. It seems we often forget that as there are some things for which we still do not shop around. Here are a few things you might consider applying more of those well-honed, consumerist skills:
For a long time, utilities were among the necessities of life for which we could not shop around. The government fixed the prices so that they were the same for everyone. While that seemed fair on the surface, it just meant that we were all stuck with no choices for service providers. And innovation in the energy space stagnated near the point of death.
According to Just Energy
Deregulation gives consumers choice – the power of the buyer. A deregulated market allows you to choose your commodity supplier. It also motivates retailers to differentiate their products from the utility and those of competitors by developing innovative features, pricing plans and options that would have otherwise not been available to you.
Just Energy is one of the newer suppliers of energy made possible by deregulation. Alberta residents can find their offerings, and many others at AlbertaEnergyProviders.com. There, you can find competitive rates with innovative services and solutions.
One of the areas where competition has really heated up is natural gas, and cleaner electricity options. You might have to pay a little more for more environmentally friendly options. But thanks to deregulation and the ability to shop around, more eco-friendly options are now on the table.
Cell Phone Service
The two things on which people tend to agree regarding the cell phone service situation in the U.S. is that we don’t have enough choice, and that all carriers are evil. For most Americans, choosing a provider is a choice of the least available evils. Sticking with the theme, people tend to go with the devil they know.
Making matters worse, carriers tend to engage in a number of tactics that make it nearly impossible, and terribly expensive to move to a different provider. T-Mobile, however, has been on a campaign to change all that. They have been marketing themselves as the Un-Carrier. Moreover, it is not just marketing. A consumer research group found that T-Mobile was actually making a difference in the industry:
More broadly, CIRP found that T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” plans are quickly changing the way we pay for smartphones: 13% of Verizon customers, 16% of AT&T customers and 18% of Sprint customers who were eligible for new phones decided to take advantage of their carriers’ new early upgrade plans. In this way, consumers are shifting more toward paying monthly increments on their mobile device so they can upgrade sooner instead of agreeing to two-year wireless contracts.
This research was done about two years ago. Since then, T-Mobile has made several more moves. Most recently, they started offering unlimited video streaming that doesn’t count against the data caps of customers who do not have unlimited plans. This is not to say that anyone should ditch their carrier of choice and jump ship to T-Mobile. It is only to point out that there is now a real choice, where once before, one carrier was much the same as the other.
This post is not about me picking the best services for you. Only you can do that. It is just to remind you that in areas where you may have once felt trapped, you now have a real choice. That can only be a good thing.