How to Defeat Trickonomics

In my book, The Power of Fifty Bits, I explain how our brains are wired for inattention and inertia, and share seven strategies to overcome this limitation, behave better, and enjoy more positive results.

As with many useful techniques, these strategies can sometimes be misused to benefit organizations at a cost to unaware consumers. I call this approach trickonomics and I offer some practical suggestions to fifty bits designers to guard against falling into such shady practices.

One of the main ways that companies can take advantage of consumers is to count recurring charges to credit cards. These monthly charges escape our notice due to our natural tendencies toward inattention and inertia.

One company, Trim, is providing a free service to battle trickonomics. As explained in a New York Times article, Trim reviews your monthly credit card statement to find likely recurring charges. These charges are presented to you in a list; you can then direct Trim to cancel any or all of them you’d like.

In terms of recurring charges that are most frequently cancelled by Trim users, credit check, fitness, airline wifi, and audiobook companies top the list. (New York Times subscriptions made the top ten.)

It’s a cool idea. Do you have an example of trickonomics in the wild… or ways of defeating companies who misuse behavioral science?

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