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Hi, Conrad White here with episode 27 of Success Council.
Continuing our theme on “How Free Market Solutions Are Making Governments Redundant,” today we will focus on consumer protection.
Many advocates of government suggest that without government protection big bad businesses will take advantage of the consumer.
As a result, we have numerous layers of bureaucracy in all countries from the Federal Trade Commission to the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and many more…
And Surprise, Surprise, the one and only solution that government offers is the same one it applies to all problems: sending men with guns to force people to comply with their wishes. And doesn’t work in consumer protection either.
Although I am sure it happens, I don’t know of anyone who even wastes their time using these agencies. I mean think about it…
If you order your shirt dry cleaned, and it comes back shrunk, are you calling any of these agencies that you pay for to protect you?
If a hardware store does not honor its return policy, would you contact any of these agencies? I could go on with thousands of examples showing that when you actually need protection as a consumer, it would never in a million years enter your mind to use these agencies.
Instinctively you know it will be a big waste of your time, for no tangible result, despite the fact that you have already prepaid for these services through your taxes.
However, the cost to you as a taxpayer is only a small fraction of the cost you pay to have these bureaucracies in your life. The compliance burden put on businesses is passed directly onto you in terms of higher prices. The compliance burden also destroys businesses, lowers competition and as a result, decreases the quality of services you receive and increases prices further.
Despite this costly intrusion of government, the free market has already provided you vastly superior protection, completely free of charge in many niches. We will go into a few now, but as we do, just imagine how many other niches have not solved this problem yet because of the false belief that government is there to protect them.
Lets start with Yelp.com. This free-to-consumer service allows anyone to check the reputation of any business: restaurants, health care professionals, car yards, hardware stores, you name it… Customers can leave reviews, both good and bad, for free about their experience with the business.
For cities where the penetration of Yelp is significant, the consequence of leaving a customer dissatisfied is commercial suicide. As a seasoned traveler, I can assure you for those cities, the service, price, and quality of products from local businesses is far higher than in cities where Yelp is not commonly used.
Speaking of travel, Tripadviser.com offers the same free review service for all things travel related. Hotels, Motels, bars, tours, car hire and much more can all be reviewed on the site. The result is a sharp increase in quality, service and price.
Perhaps the most notable example is eBay. It is an amazing fact that every single one of us know we could create an eBay profile, take a picture of anything in our house, sell it on eBay, and then keep the cash and never send the product.
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