You just don’t seem to understand

1839502-the-radical-transformation-of-customer-service-rotatorIn 2017, the telecommunications industry and the Australian Communications and Media Authority will be re-assessing the customer information obligations framework for telecommunications companies – what is referred to as the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code (the TCP code). The Australian telecommunications industry has indicated long-standing desire for more flexibility with fewer restrictions in the information provided on a mandatory basis to consumers. It has been contended that current mandatory consumer information requirements, particularly in terms of the amount of information that must be provided at point-of-sale, are not necessarily useful to consumers and result in substantial cost to the industry.

One concern of consumer advocates has been that important consumer protections could be lost in the absence of independent evidence-based information and research, to the detriment of both industry and its customers. Consumer information is fundamentally important, but it has to be carefully designed so that customers can understand what they’re buying, how to use the service, and how to constructively resolve issues into the future. In the past, with the development of the code and some other regulations, there has been an absence of sophisticated empirical evidence about the best way to effectively communicate this fundamental information in the telecommunications space.

Informed consent sits behind most legal agreements, but in reality, the notion of informed consent is usually measured by directly asking consumers whether they understand their obligations and rights under a contract. While this is indeed testing the reflective capacity of consumers in relation to their belief that they have understood something, it is arguable that it is not actually measuring whether the consumer has actually understood the agreement. In other words, a person may claim to understand the implications of their signing a contract, but may fail to appreciate the possible consequences until they are presented with a particular challenge arising from or related to the terms of the contract.

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Desire, luxury and consuming our identity

luxury_home_41Recent news that consumers in Adelaide are willing to pay $400 for a taste of Wagyu steak sounds ridiculous, but in reality, wanting something that others in your particular group can’t have is part of being human.

Do you own a $6000 toaster? A Weber barbecue? Or a Dyson vacuum cleaner? Maybe a Francis Francis coffee machine? What about a SMEG fridge?

Have you ever bought an expensive perfume, or some exclusive jewellery; a pair of designer shoes or an Elk bag?

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Life, death and what’s important


It’s interesting that the way we think about death at different times in our history is a useful expression of our broader cultural and social praxis.

In visual art, in music, and even in family homes, up until the 20th century, the momento mori (remember death) served as a reminder that we while we are alive, we should attempt to perfect our character, and embrace the importance of living a worthy life. It probably also reflected how dangerous it was to be alive, and how lucky we were if we survived childhood.

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The rise of American authoritarianism

Such an interesting thesis by Amanda Taub on Vox, and so much more cogent than the explanation for the current political climate as simply “anger”.

This could be just as relevant for Australia (the rise of the ultra-conservative wing of the Liberal Party) and the UK (UKIP).

If you can, read the whole article, but here are some interesting quotes:

“… there is a certain subset of people who hold latent authoritarian tendencies. These tendencies can be triggered or “activated” by the perception of physical threats or by destabilizing social change, leading those individuals to desire policies and leaders that we might more colloquially call authoritarian. Continue reading

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Resistance is (mostly) futile: How buying nothing is harder than it looks (especially at Christmas time)


While there are thousands of people all over the world taking part in the “Buy Nothing” movement, along with a whole range of other groups of people doing what they can to reduce consumption, resistance to commerce is nothing new. The first Buy Nothing Day was held in 1992, and books such as Kalle Lasn’s (1999) ‘Culture Jam’, Naomi Klein’s (2002) ‘No Logo,’ and, locally, input from economists like Clive Hamilton (Growth Fetish, 2003; Affluenza with Richard Dennis, 2005) have all posited that consumption is not the answer to all of our problems. But, with the rise in access to information, consumer-resistance movements are becoming increasingly popular, prevalent and visible in contemporary Western society.

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Not so cashed up

timtam4In early May, 2015, news services reported that Denmark, one of those wacky Scandinavian countries that just seems to be obsessed with being progressive, would allow retailers to only offer card payment, and allow them to ban cash as a means of transaction. For quite a while, Scandinavia has been all about a cashless society. In Sweden, they’ve taken it one step further with a vein scanner, where you pay for your coffee by entering the last four digits of your mobile phone number, and then hold your hand above a sensor, while it scans your veins – presumably to see if you have Black, Platinum, Gold, Silver, or just boring old red blood.

But, will we ever see Australia go completely cashless?

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Our Hate-Love Relationship with Alcohol

In the 2015 Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) Annual Alcohol Poll, 34 per cent of Australians said that they drink to get drunk, 43 per cent said they had vomited as a result of drinking, and 75 per cent said Australia has a problem with excess drinking or alcohol abuse.

But in the same poll 92 per cent of Australians identified themselves as responsible drinkers.

As the young people might say, what the..?

A majority of Australians agree that we have a problem with alcohol. But almost all drinkers say it’s not a problem of theirs – it’s a problem other people have, that exists somewhere outside of their world.

There are both contradictions and abstractions in this discussion. But it makes perfect sense to me.

It’s simply easier to say that others are flawed, than admit that perhaps you might be the one who is flawed. Psychologists refer to it as the self-serving or positivity bias, and it’s the only way to protect our “fragile ego from the blows of reality” and to reconcile our often contradictory behaviour in a complex world. Continue reading

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