By Nate Vaagen

1. Key Documents

Ofcom’s Consumer Experience policy evaluation 2010

The fifth annual report by Ofcom evaluating consumer experience in communications markets  in four areas: choice and value; availability and take-up; empowerment; and concerns and protection.

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/marketdataresearch/marketdata/consumerexperiencereports/consumerexperience/

Information Remedies for Consumer Protection

The authors outline the value of information in the regulation of competitive markets.

Howard Beales, Richard Craswell, & Steven Salop. The American Economic Review 71 (2) May 1981.

The Green Book: Appraisal and Evaluation in Central Government

HM Treasury guidance on assessment of government undertakings, including justification for market intervention.

http://www.hmtreasury.gov.uk/data_greenbook_index.htm

2. Behavioural Economics

Rather than assume a rational consumer, behavioural economics attempts to explain the effect of actors on markets by analysing cultural and psychological factors that influence consumer choice.

Behavioural Economics and Vulnerable Consumers (2010)

The authors outline several common consumer decision-making biases that impact competitive markets and argue that policy design must take such factors into account.

http://www.communicationsconsumerpanel.org.uk/smartweb/telecommunications/behaviouraleconomicsandvulnerableconsumers

What Does Behavioural Economics Mean for Competition Policy (2010)

The OFT, while recognizing the value of behavioural economics, warns against over-emphasizing its impact.

http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/economic_research/oft1224.pdf

Behavioral Economics and the Federal Trade Commission (2007)

An analysis of how the U.S.’s FTC utilizes behavioural economics in crafting consumer protection policy and areas in which a stronger reliance on behavioural economics might be useful.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1091745

3. Scholarly Articles

The Construction of Audiences by Regulatory Agencies: Ofcom’s Work on Consumer Experience and Review of Public Service Television (2011)

Peter Lunt and Sonia Livingstone critique Ofcom’s approach to audience research, arguing that the regulator’s work is more analogous to market research, attributing consumer views and concerns to preferences for products and services.

Abstract available at http://iamcrocs.org/index.php/2011/2011/paper/view/1115

Regulating Markets in the Interest of Consumers? On the Changing Regime of Governance in the Financial Service and Communications Sectors (2007)

Lunt and Livingstone argue that the complexity of financial and communication markets requires a proper balance on the part of regulators in terms of the dual functions of market development and consumer protection.

LSEResearchOnline

4. Communications Consumer Panel

The Communications Consumer Panel is an independent consumer representation body funded by Ofcom. The formation and remit of the CCP were outlined under CommunicationsAct 2003, c. 21, pt. 1, FunctionsfortheProtectionofConsumers.

The following studies represent some of the work done by the CCP in the past:

Switched On: An Elaboration of Britain’s Tech Savvy Consumers (2008)

http://www.communicationsconsumerpanel.org.uk/smartweb/digitalparticipation/switchedonconsumers

Can I Cancel? Mobile Coverage and Contract Cancellation (2010)

http://www.communicationsconsumerpanel.org.uk/Can%20I%20cancel_main%20report_FINAL.pdf

5. Consultation

Empowering and Protecting Consumers

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills sought comments in a consultation on consumer representation.  The focus of the consultation was the Department’s proposal that Citizens Advice become the official publicly funded consumer advocate body, responsible for general as well as sectoral advocacy.

http://www.bis.gov.uk/Consultations/empoweringandprotectingconsumers