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Do cell phones cost more than prostitutes?

A report by the Utility Consumers' Action Network suggests that the average cell phone customer pays $3 per minute. Is this more than the average prostitution customer?

Everywhere one has turned this week, folks have wanted to talk prostitution. Craigslist is supposedly the nation's biggest bordello. And prostitution is stunningly rife in every leaf-filled American suburb.

In an attempt to get away from the more troubling side of existence, I ventured to the Los Angeles Times, knowing that the only obscene discussion I would find there would revolve around money and plastic surgery.

Choking on my allergies, I fell upon a very interesting article by David Lazarus, one of America's foremost writers on the subject of consumery-businessy stuff.

And there he was revealing that a report by the Utility Consumers' Action Network had suggested that the average cell phone customer pays $3 per minute to their hard-working cell phone provider. A significant reason for such an exalted figure is that a considerable number of people pay for minutes they never use.

How many minutes are you paying for? CC Compujeramey

The average cell phone customer manages to yak through only around a third of their paid-for 'any-time minutes.'

"We knew it was a myth that wireless costs were going down," Michael Shames, UCAN's executive director to the LA Times. "But we were blown away by the actual costs."

And so my mind wafted reluctantly and uneasily back to prostitution. While not wishing to so much as enter a debate on the subject of its morality versus that of any other business, I found a parallel stealthily insinuating itself into my head.

As I understand the prostitution business, many of its customers also pay a fixed fee for a fixed period of time. Which, one might assume, results in some occurrences of paid minutes remaining unused.

Warily, I tried to learn a little more of the economics. I scoured Craigslist for a sex worker equivalent to the Utility Consumers' Action Network. I failed. So, without wishing to go into too much detail, I contacted a few chaps (some miserably married, some happily), who explained the details of their call-girl (and call-boy) plans.

The results have no significance statistically. But my sense is that the current charges are somewhere in the region of $1.20 to $2 per minute. In some cities, even lower.

Is it any wonder, with prices as depressed as these (and cell phone bills to pay too), that prostitutes might have to advertise on Craigslist rather than anywhere else?