Regretting Extra Therms Among Other Things
A couple of weeks ago, I did a piece on how to go about buying natural gas and electricity from someone other than your old utility. Soon after, I got a call that I think highlights an element of so-called energy choice that I touched on indirectly in the story: buyer's remorse. It's not a sensation that usually accompanies the reading of an electric bill, but several of the folks I talked to for the story--including those who saved money--experienced some share of regret.
The Northern Virginia woman who called me has been buying from an alternative gas supplier for the past two years. She saw that only in two months out of 24 was the market rate higher than the rate she and her spouse had signed up for. She estimates that in total, the switch cost them an extra $500. When she called to see if they could cancel, she was told they would have to pay $50. Her husband didn't want to pay. But in hindsight, she realizes now, they should have. They would have come out ahead in the long run.
Suffice it to say, she's not renewing.
When I started talking to these folks, I wondered why in the world anyone would bother doing this? Then I remembered an article I read years ago about happiness researchers who say there are two kinds of shoppers: maximizers and satisficers . (The latter is derived from the word satisfice which means "to decide on and pursue a course of action satisfying the minimum requirements to achieve a goal.") Maximizers won't stop until they've found what they're looking for. Satisficers are more likely to compromise. Satisficers, if I'm remembering correctly, are happier people.
I'm more of a maximizer. But since I read about that research I've tried to mend my ways. When I find myself shopping past the point where I'm enjoying it, I say to myself (in my head of course and not aloud) 'satisficer!' as if invoking it would somehow make me that way (a la the Wonder Twins). It hasn't worked really. Far more effective has been shopping with an infant who has no patience for sitting in grocery carts. Recently, I made the mistake of stopping to ponder the relative merits of Oaty-os versus Cheerios only to look over and see her gingerly pick up a jar of baby food and, before I could grab it from her--smash it on the floor.
I think I already know the scientific term for that type of shopper: mom.
Are there any other wanna be satisficers out there? And do you think we would really be happier if we had bought that couch last year that was the right color and height but wasn't cushiony enough?
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Posted by: Drew | May 8, 2008 7:41 PM
Posted by: joe | May 12, 2008 3:49 PM
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