Power TAC 2015 specification changes

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Power TAC 2015 specification changes

grampajohn
Administrator
Dear colleagues -

As I am sure you are aware, we have not yet issued an updated game specification for 2015. Part of the reason is that we were trying to avoid a change for this year. But there is one issue, #766, that needs to be addressed for 2015, and that needs to be clearly spelled out in the spec.

In the current implementation, customers strongly discount the value of a tariff with a negative signup payment. This is effective, but many of us feel that a better approach would be to force the broker to refund negative signup payments if such tariffs are revoked, at least over some reasonable time horizon. I can see several alternative rules; I think we should choose one that discourages customer abuse and does not require "guessing" on the part of the customer about whether such a tariff would ever be revoked and if so, how the customer should account for the risk in its evaluation.

Here are my alternatives -- I would like feedback before choosing one; if you have another alternative, I invite you to spell it out and make your case for it.

(a) Prohibit negative signup payments.

(b) Force a full refund if a tariff with a negative signup payment is ever revoked. That is very simple to understand and implement, but may be overly harsh to brokers. In other words, the net effect might be the same as (a).

(c) Force a full refund if a tariff with a negative signup payment is revoked before its expiration date. That would clearly communicate the revocation risk to the customer, but it would discourage new subscriptions more strongly as the expiration date approached.

(d) Force a full refund if a tariff with a negative signup payment is revoked before an individual customer's minimum subscription duration has expired. Same evaluation advantage as (c), but somewhat harder to implement for population customers like Brookside Homes.

(e) Same as (d) except make the refund pro-rated. I believe the data structures to keep track of this information already exist in the TariffSubscription type, but I could be wrong. I have not tried to write it yet. It may be much harder to do pro-rated refunds based on expiration date.

At this point, I prefer (b) just because it's the easiest to understand and does not place undue cognitive burden on the customer.

Please let us know what you think about this. If I don't hear back in a couple of weeks, we will go with option (b).

Cheers -

John
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Re: Power TAC 2015 specification changes

asymeon
Hi John,

I hope you are doing fine.
I think I would promote either (a) or (b).
Anything else will be a bit complex to test, and may raise objection.

Best regards,
Andreas


On 13/1/2015 12:37 πμ, grampajohn [via Power TAC Developers] wrote:
Dear colleagues -

As I am sure you are aware, we have not yet issued an updated game specification for 2015. Part of the reason is that we were trying to avoid a change for this year. But there is one issue, #766, that needs to be addressed for 2015, and that needs to be clearly spelled out in the spec.

In the current implementation, customers strongly discount the value of a tariff with a negative signup payment. This is effective, but many of us feel that a better approach would be to force the broker to refund negative signup payments if such tariffs are revoked, at least over some reasonable time horizon. I can see several alternative rules; I think we should choose one that discourages customer abuse and does not require "guessing" on the part of the customer about whether such a tariff would ever be revoked and if so, how the customer should account for the risk in its evaluation.

Here are my alternatives -- I would like feedback before choosing one; if you have another alternative, I invite you to spell it out and make your case for it.

(a) Prohibit negative signup payments.

(b) Force a full refund if a tariff with a negative signup payment is ever revoked. That is very simple to understand and implement, but may be overly harsh to brokers. In other words, the net effect might be the same as (a).

(c) Force a full refund if a tariff with a negative signup payment is revoked before its expiration date. That would clearly communicate the revocation risk to the customer, but it would discourage new subscriptions more strongly as the expiration date approached.

(d) Force a full refund if a tariff with a negative signup payment is revoked before an individual customer's minimum subscription duration has expired. Same evaluation advantage as (c), but somewhat harder to implement for population customers like Brookside Homes.

(e) Same as (d) except make the refund pro-rated. I believe the data structures to keep track of this information already exist in the TariffSubscription type, but I could be wrong. I have not tried to write it yet. It may be much harder to do pro-rated refunds based on expiration date.

At this point, I prefer (b) just because it's the easiest to understand and does not place undue cognitive burden on the customer.

Please let us know what you think about this. If I don't hear back in a couple of weeks, we will go with option (b).

Cheers -

John



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Power TAC 2015 specification is released

grampajohn
Administrator
In reply to this post by grampajohn
Dear colleagues -

We have released the 2015 Power TAC specification. The only change from 2014 is in the 4th bullet point in Section 3.1, page 8, where we say that negative signup payments will be refunded if the tariff is revoked. The actual implementation refunds those payments whenever a customer unsubscribes from such a tariff, keeping in mind that when a tariff is revoked, the customer is forced to unsubscribe, since otherwise it would be relatively easy to continue abusing customers with this scheme simply by taking one more step.

Good luck in the upcoming tournament.

John