Would you pay more for less?

Scott Adams, the artist behind the Dilbert cartoon, wrote on his blog back in August about his desire to live in a more simple world — a world without so many options that he can stop wasting time and energy trying to make a decision. He rants about too many choices when booking travel reservations, too many features on his digital watch, and movie theaters with special seats and meals. From his post “The Less Feature,” discussing his travel preparations:

Over the next several hours [trying to find an airline ticket on Orbitz] I tried sorting by flight time, shortest route, and price. Then I tried JetBlue’s site because it’s not included in Orbitz. Then I tried United Airlines’ site because I didn’t know if they would have extra options, and I needed to check my miles. The flight I picked had all sorts of seating options and levels of travel that I needed to research. Then I needed to arrange the rental car, the hotel, and the airport pickup. Then I took all of the information and reformatted it in a way I could read. At some point in the process I crossed a line: The time to plan and book the trip took longer than it will take to fly across the entire country.

Adams continues on to talk about Apple, and how he believes they’re one company that is more in-line with his “Less Feature” desire:

Apple often gets the less features thing right. The iPad didn’t add a fast boot-up speed, it subtracted a hard disk. It didn’t add a touch screen, it subtracted a keyboard. You want to print? Forget it. The iPad is awesome precisely because it has fewer options. If I want more complexity I can purchase apps.

With an endless supply of applications you can download from their app store and the numerous models of computers, I’m not so certain Apple has the “Less Feature” perfected. However, I agree that they’re better at uncluttering their product lines than many other companies.

Where do you stand? Do you believe that too many options clutters up your daily experience? Would you prefer fewer options, or do more options mean you are able to find exactly what you need for your clutter-free life?

Thanks to MinimalMac for leading us to this interesting Scott Adams blog post.

58 Comments for “Would you pay more for less?”

  1. posted by Annette on

    I too believe there are too many options in this world, especially with technology. Trying to purchase a new camera or laptop leads to a dizzying number of choices. I estimate I use about 10% of the features for my digital camera. I get value from items and applications that deliver what I need (great pictures) with the shortest learning curve possible.

  2. posted by Aslaug on

    While I also sometimes feel overwhelmed with choice anxiety I still would not want to have fewer choices. Really, if I don’t want to go through all the options I don’t have to. If I want a flight from place A to B and don’t want to spend time searching for the fastest or cheapest route I don’t have to, I can just buy the first thing that pops up. Same with computers and such, I don’t have to use or install all the features that are offered if I don’t want them.

    For many things I’m glad to have options to choose from and would never be happy if companies started limiting them (usually the first things to go seem to be the ones I like).

  3. posted by varun on

    To be a little meta: I’d like to have the choice to have more things or fewer things. That’s why I fear a world without at least Microsoft, Apple and Canonical.

  4. posted by Ian on

    I think the main problem with people not paying for Less is that they see it as intrinsically less valuable. I see this a lot as a graphic designer. Clients want to cram more and more on an ad, website or page because they “Paid for that space and want to use it”. Seasoned designers know that white space and less stuff can usually mean:

    * more impact
    * better communication
    * greater focus on the message
    * less distraction

    I know this all to well as a person who has a natural push towards the MORE, I always say that my design work is a “Practice in Simplicity” and that helps my clients and helps their message in the end.

    Also, as switching to being a fulltime mac user about 4 years ago I find the less choices far more satisfying.

    Why? Because, I KNOW that I will get a GREAT computer and experience from Apple, even if the perceived cost is more. I’d love to know how many man hours I’ve wasted on Windows and pre-mac computer buying experiences when I had to sift through a million vendors and computer parts to make a machine to my liking.

    I have nothing against tinkering, I love to do that, but when it prevents you from doing valuable work or freeing valuable time, then it is an impedance.

  5. posted by Christof on

    I love to have choices, but I hate to make decisions.

  6. posted by Keetha on

    More choices always seems like the best thing but I’m not convinced it is. I’m not convinced it isn’t, either, though. So many options creates a pressure of its own.

    It can be frustrating to realize that one can do anything but one can’t do everything.

    Or it can be freeing.

    I’m talking in cirlces!

  7. posted by adora on

    Certainly! The only thing I care about in a cellphone is making calls, but phones these days are cluttered with features I don’t use. The only thing I want is a clear audio, and yet phone companies keep the audio quality low and free up the bandwidth for teenage digital farmers. Have you noticed that the audio quality is just as bad as it was in the 90s?

  8. posted by Sue on

    I always laughed that the Big 3 rebranded the same exact car – giving consumers the illusion of more choices. I could buy a Ford Taurus or a Mercury Sable, but they are the same thing under different names.

    This is a prime example of when more isn’t really more and just adds to the confusion. I’m also happy to see some of the extra car brands go under.

    I agree that less choice can actually be a good thing. I get overwhelmed when there are too many choices. I walked into a tile store to pick out a new floor for my bathroom and nearly left in tears. Too much!

    Supermarkets are another example. How many different types of Hershey’s Kisses or M&Ms do we really need? How many flavors of Doritos are there now? And yet, when I go to the produce isle, I can find maybe three types of tomatoes, even in the height of tomato season. I know there are other varieties of pears and carrots and potatoes, but I have to either grow them or go far out of my way to find them. But if I want an endless variety of cereal or snack cakes, I’m good!

  9. posted by Mat on

    This misses the mark in example.

    It is not the fewer choices that is desired. What is expressed here is a simpler user experience. This is important in many ways. I want *more* choices and more competition as well. However when it comes to using a device, I want to fiddle with settings rarely, not need to intervene for regular maintenance, and be able to do something immediately.

    This is where many things fail. Think of how much work it is to keep up a Windows XP machine these days. It’s like running a 68 Buick; lots of things that you need to do just to keep it running. A new car usually just needs gas and oil. Any more than that, and we are rightfully frustrated.

    Besides, he’s really gonna be pissed off when printing is put into iOS 4.2. Yep. There it is…

  10. posted by PatGLex on

    Interesting that you bring this up, partic. with Apple. Following the release of the new MacBook Air, which seemed to give me kind of the computer I want, I checked in with a friend who is extremely computer literate, and asked about the specs for the Air. She came back with “it doesn’t have this and this and this”, and I realized that I didn’t want it to do all those “this” things and what it doesn’t have isn’t anything I’d miss, and I can get a few adapters for some of the other things it doesn’t have that I might want.

  11. posted by Kari on

    A recent book, The Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz, summarizes the range of research in this area and reinforces that there are diminishing returns.

    I know that personally, I often limit my choices–because it is simply not worth my time or energy to weigh the alternatives ad infinitum

  12. posted by Rob on

    Some people say they’d like to continue having the option to install all the features in case they want them, even though they’d prefer a simpler user experience (or shopping experience) up front. Unfortunately, from an engineering perspective, it doesn’t work that way. More available features means less time spent on each feature. Finite time and money go into a product, and it is very much a zero sum game. I personally would rather have exactly 3 perfect features than even the option to install 600 badly implemented ones. A problem is that people buy products based on lists of features based on the idea that they’d rather have features they’ll never use “just in case” rather than buying fewer features that work simply and perfectly for the 99.9% of the time they’re using it. Those “just in case” scenarios are almost always easily solvable even without the extra features, but many people evaluate products in a vacuum.

    The same holds true even in terms of supermarket product lines. A company could dedicate its energy to making exactly one perfect product, or a small handful of extremely good products for particular purposes in some industries. Instead, we see a lot of infinite brand extension – a superficially different formula comes out every few months until it takes an entire shelving unit to hold all 35 different kinds of toothpaste for 1 brand.

  13. posted by Bonnie on

    In this case… isn’t that what a travel agent is for?

    Generally speaking, that’s part of what outsourcing is about, be it a service, website, or a software package. You have one point of contact- in this case, a travel agent- who takes care of everything, given the specified parameters. Same with a housecleaner. Yes, you pay a premium, but you (generally) get just what you want.

    Of course, this requires /knowing/ what you want, which I think is more of a problem for people.

  14. posted by Mike on

    Actually, I like being confounded by options. It’s frustrating as all hell at the time you’re researching your options, but actually it’s saved me a fortune by forcing me to give up on the process before actually buying, booking, going or doing.

    An example would be that I’ve been prevaricating over buying a new laptop for months now, and when I finally caved and decided to get one, the process was so complicated – comparing apples to, well, lemons more than oranges, choosing a vendor, outlet etc. was just so painful that in the end I decided that in the end, if I was being honest about it, I really didn’t need one all that much. There are already 4-5 computers in the house, I have an iPhone and all I really did with my old laptop was obsessively check Facebook and RSS feeds – not because I needed to, but because the laptop was there in front of me, happily toasting my testes.

  15. posted by Heather on

    Too many options—that’s why I hate shopping. I choose a small “boutique” type store to shop in for clothes over a department store or mall any day, precisely because they have fewer options.

  16. posted by Gal @ Equally Happy on

    Less is definitely more. I encounter this problem a lot with my readers who are interested in being healthy. They wonder about glycemic index, good carbs vs. bad carbs, paleo diets and a hundred other options and decisions. I try to explain to them that being healthy is much simpler than that but they seem lost in the details.

  17. posted by Tracy on

    Having more options creates a competitive market that drives down prices and increases consumer choice.. basic economics. I like having more choices. If others don’t like that trade-off, they are perfectly free to pick whatever is most convenient and stop comparison shopping. The awesome thing is, EVERYONE benefits from the increased competition because more likely than not, the ticket they bought without comparison shopping was cheaper because their competitors offered a similar thing at lower prices. All without them personally breaking a sweat – if only they had the willpower to ignore the other shiny distracting options offered..

  18. posted by Celeste on

    I hate going round and round with decisions on what to choose. Sometimes I just find an electronics person who lives to know the ins and out of what every button does, tell them what my simple needs are, and ask to be pointed towards the best fit. Then all I have to worry about is my learning curve. I just don’t have the patience to try to learn each new electronics item and analyze if it’s the right one for me. To recap: choice is good, but I need help to make the decision in a timely manner.

    At the supermarket, I think it’s insane that a trip to buy toothpaste can be paralyzing with all of the options in ingredients and flavors.

    I don’t think tissues with lotion in them or shampoo with conditioners in them lived up to their hype; separate products perform better and are more useful.

    I think we go a little nuts when we try to combine too many things into one.

  19. posted by Abby on

    We routinely pay for more for less when we choose to shop local. Our bike shop and the toy store spring to mind – yes, there are better deals to be found. But the value of not finding the deals is greater than the money saved.

    But then again, these are specialty stores where someone else has carefully edited the selection to a very few choice items. So maybe what I’m embracing isn’t a world with fewer options, but one with a small priesthood of highly skilled editors who do the hard part for me.

  20. posted by Leslie on

    I try to be a satisficer and quit shopping once I’ve found something that fits my needs/wants. However, what I’d like are several choices among well-made things rather than seemingly endless choices of junk. I’ve become very frustrated in the last decade by purchasing same-brand replacements, for appliances in particular, and having those replacements die in a year or two when the item I was replacing had chugged along for a decade or more. I’d rather pay twice as much for something that lasts 3 or 4 times as long and keep things out of the landfill, than always have something new. Even purchasing what used to be reliable/nicer brands doesn’t seem to help much. Rant over–fewer choices for me please.

  21. posted by Karen on

    @adora You’re completely right that cellphone voice quality has not improved since the 90s. Bandwidth required to send texts is ludicrously small, yet the price is astronomical. Cellphone companies put their effort into services that will give them the greatest profit, and leave the rest of us saying, “Can you hear me now?”

  22. posted by Anita on

    I think Bonnie hit the nail on the head — the problem isn’t having too many options, it’s people not knowing what they want.

    If what you’re looking to buy is important enough for you to invest the time, do proper research and make an informed choice, then options are not just desirable, but essential in most cases. If you’re not willing to put in the effort, then it’s not the options that are clutter, but the thing you’re looking to buy probably is.

  23. posted by Karen on

    I like having options. When people think of having fewer options, they think it will mean that only the option THEY want will be available. That’s not what will happen. Instead, the only options available will be the ones that are most popular. I don’t have the same tastes as “most people” and I don’t want to cut off my option to get something that suits just me.

    For example, shoes. Most people wear an average width shoe. But I wear a narrow size. Most shoe stores don’t sell them, so I have to go to a specialty store that offers hundreds of options. It can be confusing to have all those choices, but I’m glad there are stores where narrows are available because now I have shoes that fit, instead of shoes that are too wide and slop up and down on my feet. But if we went for the “simple” shoe store, they wouldn’t sell narrow shoes because 95% of people don’t wear them.

  24. posted by Mr. Banana on

    Choice is good, because at least with variety on offer, you have the added option of choosing not to be bogged down in researching everything available, and appreciating that there is beauty in imperfection as well. The source of Scott’s frustration, and those who are overwhelmed by the myriad of options, is that they try to achieve perfection in everything they do or obtain. When you let go of what you want things or experiences to be, you are much more at peace with yourself, regardless of the complexity or simplicity of the situation/object being dealt with.

    I am not worried if I didn’t book the cheapest flight, the cheapest hotel or the cheapest transportation – as long as I have researched the options at my disposal to a reasonable limit, I’m good to go.

    Being obsessed with simplicity in everything is clutter as well. As someone who chooses to pursue uncluttered living in a consumerist society, this seems to be my understanding.

  25. posted by Samantha on

    I get analysis paralysis if I have too many choices. I freeze at the supermarket trying to choose toothpastes or cereal and am completely useless at buying anything expensive for similar reasons.

    I would like less choice in just about everything please, I don’t want to waste brain space worrying about if toothpaste A whitens and freshens breath toughens enamel but toothpaste B kills plaque longer and foams so can get the hard to reach places which toothpaste is better. . . .I just want clean teeth.

    I wish the retail world would stop making me waste energy I barely have at the end of a long work day making even more decisions.

  26. posted by Judi on

    @Tracy — “Basic economics” doesn’t necessarily mean that more choices drives down prices. More choices of, say, toothpaste means that the companies have to tell us (in expensive advertising) why we need a certain kind of toothpaste that does certain things (whitens, freshens, strengthens). The price of those ads gets tacked right on to the cost of the toothpaste. Our family buys toothpaste that costs $1/tube and cleans our teeth just fine; it costs a buck because the company isn’t making stupid ads telling us why we need it. This should tell you something about the relative prices of consumer products and the advertising for those products!

  27. posted by Adventure-Some Matthew on

    I like having options, but I also think that we can have too many. My wife and I get over-whelmed with the choices available, especially when we feel like they are all the same thing, but with a different color on the box.

  28. posted by priest's wife on

    I used to teach students from the ex-Soviet Union- they would always get nervous with too many choices.

  29. posted by Ms. Stuck on

    Right now I am at home stuck in bed. I have a million choices of what to do and no clue which one to do first and what is the “best” way to do it.

    This paralysis, due in part to too much choice (what career do I want? what do I want for breakfast?), has unfortunately led me to depression.

    I apologize for such a sour comment, but this is the truth, and I wonder if there are others out there.

  30. posted by Jake on

    I remember recently watching a TED talk by Barry Schwartz, on “the paradox of choice”. He believes that more choice in fact paralyzes us and makes us less happy, and I truly believe it. Freedom is great, but too many choices causes more turmoil than it prevents.

  31. posted by Khürt on

    I don’t think people want more options. I think they want the option to have more.

    When there were only three stations on TV and only a few hours of programming choosing was simple. Now, we have thousands of hours of content on hundreds of channels and we need DVRs with dual tuners to schedule it all.

    Ye, the gods must be crazy.

  32. posted by chacha1 on

    I agree with Bonnie. If you KNOW what you want, then the number of possible choices is immaterial. I know I want low-fat granola, so I don’t have to even look at the other 300 cereals. I know I want a Kindle, so I don’t have to consider any other e-reader. I know I like Canon cameras, so if/when my PowerShot croaks I will just get another one.

    And I can honestly say I’ve never spent more than an hour making the arrangements for a trip. :-)

  33. posted by Mletta on

    Khurt, you said it exactly: “I don’t think people want more options. I think they want the option to have more.”

    To me, it’s not about more or less options/features on products or services.

    it’s about having what I want and/or need, based on my calculations, not what a company says I should want, need or like (Talking to you, Steve Jobs!).

    The biggest problem today when purchasing so many items, especially electronics, is that we’re really comparing apples (NOT Jobs’ company!) and oranges.

    Too much of the time we end up compromising because we can’t find ONE device to do what we want so we’re forced into purchasing an item that may have our top one or two features (and little else) and it’s also more expensive than other items that have a lot of features, but not the ones we want.

    It was that way a year ago when I needed a new laptop. I spent more than I wanted for a laptop that had the two top features I needed/wanted but not much else because no other models had the features.

    It’s the same way now, as I wait for an Android tablet that does what I need (the iPad does not meet MY needs and that of many others, despite Apple’s constant hype). I don’t even want a tablet, but I’m tired of trying to find a smart phone that meets my needs.

    When companies stop playing games with their features on products (Apple to me is notorious for this. I’m amazed at how many people fall under their spell given how Apple controls its products and forces consumers to deal with THEIR way or no way.), life will be a lot easier.

    Cell phones are the best example of tons of options, but not what many of us want. The fact that I’m limited in choice by either the phone service supplier (AT&T, etc.) or type of phone for what I want is ludicrous. EVERY smartphone should be usable with any service provider. PERIOD. Every phone should come with basic features and you should be able to specify your add-ons.

    But no, companies drive us crazy with phones and services that don’t match what we want. They dictate the terms, etc. (It’s a changing a bit with the advent of smartphones for prepaid plans and no contract service.)

    I get that many people are confused by options, but more (of the right ones) is preferable. The key is truly understanding what you need, versus what you’d like, and most important, what you’ll really use.

    (How many folks use more than a few features of any electronics item? Really.)

  34. posted by David Engel on

    I may be overgeneralizing a specific issue, but I want more control. I don’t like giving someone else control. If that means I have to take responsibility to sort through those options myself, so be it. I want the freedom to make my own choice, whether that is in regard to travel plans, computer software, or any other choice.

    I’m working on minimizing external control to maximize my personal freedom. I understand that also means maximizing my personal responsibility. If I’m not happy, it’s my fault.

  35. posted by MamaCat on

    I think where this comes down depends on whether you are a “J” or “P” in Myers-Briggs terminology. I’m a strong J so I can just ignore the choices and pick something and get it over with. My husband, a strong P, agonizes over choices to pick the very best one and hates thinking that he made a wrong or less-optimal choice. Having too many choices is very bad for him because he really does need to look closely at all of them. Scott Adams story sounds like him, truly!

    Generally speaking though it does feel as if we are overwhelmed by choice. And worse – the competing companies try to set up their products so that it is very difficult to make a rational, head-to-head comparison. Or the opposite applies sometimes – the products are indistinguishable at least on the surface. It can make your head swim.

  36. posted by Kathryn Fenner on

    I’m all about a simple phone that sounds good, is compact and has a long battery life. Period.

    on the other hand, as a size outlier–5’10” with hips and size 11+ feet, I appreciate having any options in, say, pants, jeans and shoes. Sometimes more options means finding one that actually meets my requirements.

    also, when I know what I want–for example, an extra long dark red wool throw, I can find it in 15 minutes on the web (I did just that a couple of days ago, and a very nice one just arrived in the mail.). I’d be out of luck here in the largest city in my small-ish state.

    So, yes, it’s a simpler user experience I want, not fewer choices.

  37. posted by Karen on

    It’s interesting that you post about this today. I was at the store to pick up some bleach that we needed. I found myself having to carefully scan the labels to make sure I wasn’t getting “Mountain Fresh Scent” Bleach or “Spring Breeze” Bleach. I like my bleach to smell like bleach, thanks.

    I turned to the employee who was shelving on the other side of the aisle and asked, “Just to be sure, “Original Scent” means it smells like bleach, right?” He said yes. I said, “That’s good. I’ve never seen so many different types of scents for bleach.”

    He looked up and down the aisles and said, “I’ve never seen so much of anything before.”

    It reminded me of the reaction a friend of mine had in college. She was from Tanzania. When we took her to a Meijer she about lost her head. We were in the peanut butter aisle or something and she was clutching her head, moaning, “There are so MANY CHOICES! How do you decide? At home there is peanut butter or NOT peanut butter!”

  38. posted by Wendy on

    Highly recommend reading “The Paradox of Choice,” as mentioned by another commentor.

    I have a friend who actually spent months looking at new living room furniture. She shopped numerous stores, finally chose something, and when it was delivered, she was unhappy with her choice!

    Having read the book and thinking about the diminishing returns of knowing all the options, I watched the Sunday flyers for a good deal, which I didn’t really spend much time researching but seemed decent. I saw a couch that looked good, went to the dept. store and checked it out, gave myself a little time to think but went back 4 days later and made the purchase. When it was delivered I was very happy with it, and I think it’s partly because I’m not thinking, oh, did I make the right choice, maybe the one from store XYZ would have been better. I feel like there are better ways to spend my energy than spending all that time shopping.

  39. posted by *pol on

    Finding an item that does the ONE thing you want it to do, and do it really well without the gee-gaws seems to be the hard part. If I have to have a cellphone, I want a phone that is easy to dial out, rings when a call comes in, and has a decent battery life. I don’t need texts, games, calendar, camera, extra-big screen or anything else.
    Same goes for when I was shopping for the ultimate unitasker — a toaster! Ours was sparking ominously. We wanted the kind that you push down the lever and then toast pops out, no LED lights, no digital read outs, NO RADIO! We couldn’t believe the craziness around something so basic as a toaster! We ended up leaving the store in disgust. I imagine we will look for an old fashioned metal one at the thrift stores. One lever, great toast, for many many years of good service whats so wrong with that?
    To answer your question, I am not sure I would pay MORE for less, but I would definitly like the option of LESS OPTIONS!

  40. posted by Camellia Tree on

    Why doesn’t anyone refer to Apple as “Crapple”? Just wondering. That’s how I feel about that company. In order to use product x, you need product y, and in order to use product y, you need one of their expensive computers. And the stuff breaks.

    Personally I think less choice is why people love Costco so much. They usually have a pretty good version of just about everything, so you don’t have to spend too much time shopping.

  41. posted by Ruth Hansell on

    I prefer knowing when to stop. A client of mine has staff members who will say, “It’s time to land the plane now.”

    Yes, there’s a lot of choices. It’s a choice to not make yourself nuts, researching every penny/minute saved/color/size/time elapsed.

    Mr.Adams could have used a travel agent. He could have checked 3 or 4 airlines and gone with the most reasonable one for his situation. He chose to spend hours on this task. That was the choice where he had some power in the situation, and he used it to chase information. How much money or time did he save by spending so much time in chasing information? That would be interesting to find out.

  42. posted by Klyla on

    I’m definitely a big fan of less to choose from but good quality. Of course, I wouldn’t want the limited choices of third world countries but really it’s gotten ridiculous here in the U.S. To save money apparently I have to shop at a warehouse store or a clone of such and they are an incredible endurance test for my feet and back.

    I really miss being able to get wally world prices at a SMALL neighborhood store. It would be so nice to be able to actually ENJOY shopping again!

  43. posted by Kel on

    I found this post and the comments very interesting – I will have to borrow from the library that book a couple of people mentioned.

    Personally, I like having the option to look through a myriad of choices. If I choose to. For most things I go with what I had before. If that is no longer an option (discontinued, doesn’t suit our needs anymore, etc.) I use Google and do a quick search for 2-3 products, and buy the one that seems the best suited.

    Example: For our vacuum cleaner, we bought a Dyson because it had a washable filter and canister, and we have cats. I bought it at Costco cause it was in stock. Could I have found it cheaper elsewhere? Probably. Did I want to spend the time searching? No. So my choice was made.

    It seems to me the key is knowing when: good enough, _is_ good enough. And let’s face it most people don’t have a better life just cause they use toothpaste that whitens, brightens and foams :)

  44. posted by Christine Bainbridge on

    I think Apple understands that good design gets out of the user’s w

  45. posted by Christine Bainbridge on

    Whoops! Hit the wrong button. I was saying that good design gets out of the user’s way. As a speech therapist, I was carrying around 20 pounds of paper around from building to building until I got an iPad. I replaced 4 binders full of stuff with a device that weighs a pound and a half. Now I have exactly what I need to do all the paperwork, plus the bonus of apps that have also greatly improved my therapy with the kids.

  46. posted by aliskye on

    I just want exactly what I want right now and inexpensive. :)

  47. posted by Mark on

    Too many choices clutters my mind for sure! I used to live in Hawaii before the big box stores got there, and whenever I’d go to the mainland the shopping choices would absolutely overwhelm me. Things were simpler without all the options!

  48. posted by Kathleen on

    I love choices! I can’t stand people who become undone by such a simple act as selecting a flight and a rental car.

    All this “analysis paralysis” strikes me as so odd. Grow up, make a choice, and be done with it. Who says you have to look at every option? Why should buying detergent be a difficult process for an otherwise functioning adult? People need to realize the value of their time, allot it accordingly, and just make a damn choice. Choosing a less-than-optimal toothpaste will not have any huge ramifications. Just buy a damn tube and be done with it.

  49. posted by Mimi on

    yes, sometimes i pay more for less.

    – when i don´t want to compare, just call a travel agency, telling them to book a flight for me
    – when i´d like to have a a small amount of somthing that might be cheaper if i´d buy one of the “special pize” big- boxes.
    – when i buy a pawsanian-style piece of furniture

    having less seems to be luxury in many ways :)

  50. posted by Liz on

    re: airline flights
    That’s what travel agents used to do for us, before the book-it-yourself-and-save era. There are times I’m willing to pay a bit more to simplify my options and significantly decrease my time investment.

  51. posted by Jasmine on

    I guess I’m one of the rare few that enjoys more features or more options. Perhaps it’s a consumerist mentality, but I like knowing that there are a million flavors of Doritos out there; I can try the ones I like and blissfully ignore the ones I don’t. The mere existence of flavors I don’t like doesn’t impede on my enjoyment of flavors I do. (Cooler Ranch, you were always the best. And you still are.)

    This isn’t to say that more is ALWAYS better. As the iPad shows, simplicity can be compelling. It may not have all the features I want from a tablet, but I don’t deny that it has a streamlined experience, and for what it does, it does very well. Just because a product isn’t for me doesn’t mean it’s a bad product (although in some cases it is). I’m just glad I have the choice — or I will, when more companies produce viable slate-style tablets better suited for my needs.

  52. Profile photo of

    posted by s on

    @Ms. Stuck: I’ve been near where you are. I didn’t get stuck in bed, but I was overwhelmed with things I wanted/needed to do and just couldn’t get started on anything. I started with therapy and, eventually, decided that medication might be ok. I had to work through some different kinds and quantities, but I believe it has helped! Although I still suffer from depression, it’s much easier to get through each day, and I can focus on the main issues and even enjoy stuff, rather than getting caught up in all the choices.

    Best wishes to you.

  53. posted by Kimberly on

    Your time is worth money. It’s often better to pay $50 more for dishwasher (my consumer experience from this weekend) then spending 10 hours finding the PERFECT dishwasher at the LOWEST price.

    Also, too many choices is often debilitating and can lead to bad outcomes. I was at a restaurant recently and I commented to my friend that there were way too many items on their menu. I ended up ordering something that sounded good, but was actually terrible that I didn’t finish. I think the restaurant should pick their BEST 10 or 15 items and offer only those, instead of 40 possibly mediocre options.

  54. posted by suzjazz on

    Scott Adams has hit the nail on the head yet again.
    Great observations. Even though I do not own an iPad or and iPhone (I can’t afford them, which is just as well, since I am already wasting enough time on facebook and trying to program the various devices that seem to be required to live in the 21st century) I totally get Apple’s concept, and it’s a step in the right direction. There is no reason on earth that every device we use/own has to do everything but wash your car. I would pay more for a stripped-down item that meets my needs without adding a lot of extra bells and whistles. A good example is my electronic keyboard. My 10 year old Kurzweil electric piano has an excellent digitally sampled acoustic piano sound and weighted action (which means it feels like a real piano keyboard) It weighs less than 30 lbs and I can transport it easily. It does not have a million programmable synth sounds which I will never use on gigs. It has a few–organ, vibes, voices, strings. Well, the PC-88 is no longer made by Kurzweil. When my keyboard finally dies, I will have to replace it with a keyboard that weighs 50-60 lbs and has a bewildering number of applications I will never use.
    It is virtually impossible to purchase a stage piano (electronic) that is ONLY a piano and is lightweight and convenient to use with a good piano sound.
    (Sorry to get all technical and music-geeky on you all.) I would pay more to get such a piano if it existed. The touch-sensitive or weighted key action keyboards all cost $2500-$3000. You can’t really get anything decent for less unless you buy it used.
    I just have to pray that my keyboard lasts a few more years.

  55. posted by Ms. D on

    Actually, Jake, what Schwartz said in “Paradox,” was that we have to make decisions about how we will use the plethora of choice presented to us. He uses the terms “satisficer,” someone who has a list of the needed qualities in a thing and gets a thing that satisfies those requirements, and “maximizer,” someone who wants the best thing they can get. In the end, he concludes that we need to decide when to be a satisficer and when to be a maximizer. For example, it pays to invest the time being a maximizer when shopping for housing, for most people, but a satisficer when shopping for a basic item of clothing. While he starts with the premise that we are being overwhelmed with choices, he ends with a personal solution that allows people to have all the choice they want, where they want it (after all, clothing could be very important to one person, and housing very unimportant to another). While it doesn’t seem that this solution would work, try it. When shopping for something relatively unimportant to you, decide on the size, color, and price range before you go to the store, and buy the first thing that meets your requirements. It’s a lot faster, even with all the choices out there.

  56. posted by Bryan on

    I am willing to pay more for less in terms of food. Less added ingredients, no preservatives, no added color or dyes, less wasted packaging, etc.

    Ice cream used to only have milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla or chocolate for flavoring. Look at ice cream today and you cannot even pronounce some of the ingredients. Sometimes less is more

  57. posted by Tabbycat on

    I don’t like to many options either. This is exactly the reason I never want to fly alone. the first and last time I flew my bf planned everything so it was easy. Whenever I decide to take my trip to Cali to see my best friends I am taking a train there with no stops. I don’t care if it will take three days

  58. posted by Karma on

    I was just thinking about this very thing – I have had an iPhone 3 for about two years and loved it, but for various reasons have switched carriers and now have a Samsung Intercept (and a iPod touch as I now lovingly call my former iPhone)

    Switching from the iPhone to a Samsung Intercept brought the simplicity of the iPhone fully to the surface. The iPhone operates off of two buttons – the home button and the lock button. Other than that every selection is done by touch. The Intercept has seven buttons on the front, not including the volume and camera buttons on the sides (or the slide out keyboard). You need to use various combinations of those buttons in using various features and apps, and it is a pain to navigate compared to the iPhone’s navigation.

    I’m not a big Apple fan, but with the iPhone they really hit the mark on out of the box usability and simplicity of function.

    Uncluttered it is not (for me), because organizing the apps on the screen gets annoying pretty quickly and they tend to stay in whatever haphazard order I originally installed them.

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