One of Scott Adams' Dilbert business books talks about a "confusopoly": companies holding a virtual monopoly on goods or services by making consumers so confused by hard-to-compare tariffs. Is that what we have here?
It's interesting to compare this to the financial services market. When shopping around for a loan, I can at least compare the basic cost of competing products by looking at the APR. It's a legal requirement in the UK (and maybe elsewhere; your mileage may vary) for anyone selling a loan to quote the APR, and it makes it a little easier to compare the products. Yes, each loan or mortgage may have its own gimmicks, such as payment holidays, the ability to pay off lump sums from the capital without penalty, and so on. But with the APR figure I can get a handle on how much it's going to cost me.
Of course there are other considerations in choosing an ISP or arranging a loan apart from the cost. But let's face it, cost is an issue, and anything that makes it possible to compare costs objectively would be helpful.
Obligatory geographical note: I am in the UK. I suspect that similar problems exist elsewhere in Europe. I can't speak for anywhere else. While I'm interested to hear about other countries, I suggest we assume for the purposes of the discussion that moving to the USA is not an option for me (he smiles).