Monday, July 8, 2013

Using the Defaults On-line and In Other Settings

"It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone undies."  -- Comment by a friend.

I guess that caught your attention.  But I want to wite about defaults on choices that you might encounter in everyday life.

Let's face it: there is a Law of Conservation of Personal Energy.  We tend over time to find ways to cut corners, do things automatically, and so forth.  In my case, that's simple laziness.  And other people and businesses often offer those opportunities.  But, just like contracts written by their lawyers, they're slanted in favor of the offerer.

So, as the Ancient Romans said, "Caveat emptor" -- let the buyer beware.

Here's a few examples:

1.  Automatic renewal of magazine subscriptions,  Now, if you're like me, you might like a magazine at first, but begin to be jaded with it over time.  Some of those news and opinion magazines come to mind.  (Seriously, I got my fill of Atlantic and Cosmo very early.)  So,with a subscription offer, don't check automatic renewal; and don't give your credit card number.  Some mags may charge you for the renewal very early.  It's like they have ants in their pants, and don't want you to change your mind.

2.  'Final Offer' for subscriptions are almost never so.

3.  Does signing up for an on-line site have a default?  If it does, then look out for the cookies and 'helpful' messages in profusion.  Un-click them if you can.

4.  When using a public computer, never, never, never leave the box marked "remember my ID and password" clicked.  As a matter of fact, I never do it even on my own personal laptop.  It's bad enough to lose it without also making access to my funds wide open.

5.  Look for, and unclick, any box when you first log on to some internet site that asks you if they could be your homepage.  Some are okay, like MSN and Yahoo; others give you a lot of garbage.  If possible, read up on a site before you use it.  And if you make it your homepage, they control the ads you will be beset with.

6.  The same goes to tool bars.  How much clutter do you need at the top of your screen?

7.  Any situation that sets an unrealistic time constraint on your choice.  Seriously, if it is a good idea or a bargain, it will seem that way tomorrow.  Sleep on it.

I know that this makes me sound crabby; but I'm not PMS-ing.  This is just acquired skepticism.

For those interested, there is a book about good and bad defaults in everyday life:

Thayer, Richard H. and Sunstein, Cass R.  Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness.  New York: Penguin, 2008.


Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Thanks for these good suggestions.

MarkD60 said...

Oh Hell yes, I agree, and I'm about tired of Windows Automatic Updates too.

Mike said...

If you don't mind missing a few issues of magazines let the subscription expire. Then the really good offers start coming.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

In effect, they take advantage of people's ;aziness.

Duckbutt said...

I follow Mike's approach with regard to subscriptions.

TexWisGirl said...

like you, anything i download for free, as it's installing, i uncheck the 'auto' toolbars, registration, etc. p.i.t.a!

John Hill said...

If there is an automatic renewal for eViL pOp TaRt, sign me up!

Clarissa said...

I find that I often lose interest in magazines I subscribe to.

Bilbo said...

Good advice. One of my major pet peeves is automatically-renewing subscriptions to anything ... if you forget to cancel them in the beginning, they're almost impossible to turn off later.