Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Your past doesn't determine your future: or how Rogers persuaded me to stop using their data services

Do you get annoyed when someone tells you that you are not capable of doing something just because you never did it before? Most people make this mistake even when they judge their own future. For example, many people get discouraged after a few unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking or to change some other behavior pattern. They think that their past offers information about their future. This is a common mistake that most of us sometimes do.

But, if it is true that we make choices, then our past is simply a series of choices that we made before. it is a historical record, not a causal relationship. Just because we made the same choice over and over again in the past doesn't mean that there is something deterministic about our behavior--it doesn't mean that we had to make that choice because if we had to do something, then that something wouldn't be a choice.

Now when we have the theory laid out, let me share an experience where a sales person tried to use the historical record of my past behavior to support the idea that I had to behave that way in the past and that I have to keep behaving the same way in the future. The following is my conversation between me and a Rogers sales person.

Sales person: We have a data plan that would give you 2.5 GB of data on your phone. The only thing we would need to do is to change your bill from the current $60 to $100. 

Me: I don't think I am interested in that. The only thing I would be interested in is that Rogers gives me more data without increasing what I am currently paying. But, since Rogers is using its oligopoly position, I know it will not do that. 

Sales person: But this is a great plan for you; you are already accumulating over $50 in extra charges for exceeding your data limit. Why don't you want to take this great plan?

Me: Because I like to make mistakes. 

Sales person: I am trying to help you not to make a mistake. Why not take this plan? 

Me: Because then I would not have an option to spend less than $100 on my phone bill, an option that I have now. 

Sales person: You have been exceeding your data limit for the past three months and accumulating more than $100 in total charges.

Me: My past doesn't determine my future.

This conversation persuaded me that Rogers doesn't deserve my money. I thought that they are capable of respecting their customers' free will and intelligence, but I was wrong. This is why I decided to stop using my phone data for anything other than emergencies. No more Facebook on the phone! This is what happened to my data usage history after the unfortunate conversation on June 16th. The flat part of the graph below starts on the same date.

So, there you go, Rogers. You lost about $50 per month from me. It may not be much for you, but given the persistence by which your sales person tried to sell your plan to me, maybe it is much.

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