May 12 2009

The Survey: You want to know about my what?

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I had a "survey" call the other night that started out with a promising question: "Would you answer a few questions about your entertainment preferences for our survey?"

I thought, Fantastic! and agreed immediately. I've been feeling as if my activities online and my contacts with both celebrities and the press have placed me in a position to have knowledge of upcoming movies and TV and I have definite opinions of what I like (and my friends and family like) and felt like I this would be an opportunity to influence somebody in the entertainment industry.

I participated in a movie survey last year that took nearly 40 minutes on the phone where I was asked about each and every movie that was to be released last summer and was asked for each movie:

  • what I knew about it
  • was I planning to see it
  • would I recommend it to friends
  • had any of my friend recommended it to me
  • had any of my friend asked me about the film
  • did I know any of the actors in the film
  • was that actor a factor in my wanting (or not wanting) to see the film
  • By the end of the survey, i was frustrated and exhausted because if I said that I knew absolutely nothing about the film and had never even heard of it I still had to answer the barrage of questions about it. But I also felt good that I had done it. I felt like a geek voice had been heard.

    But this latest survey? First question was "Of the following list of illnesses are you being treated for any of the following..."

    "Excuse me?" I stopped the interviewer, "What does this have to do with Entertainment?"

    "Please just answer the question," the interviewer started again.

    "No. I refuse to answer this question as it has nothing to do with my entertainment preferences."

    There was a long pause and then, "Is there anyone in the household who would..."


    "Thank you for your time"

    Here's my problem. Under the "do not call" laws someone can make an unsolicited call to my home if they are 1) A Political party, 2) A Charity, or 3) Taking a survey.

    This means that someone can ask me questions about all sorts of personal information and my opinions if I allow them to ask them even if they have no intention of using that information. So, apparently somebody has found out that "entertainment preferences" is an easy way to milk people for information. It makes people feel like they are going to have a say in their future entertainment options.

    But here's a tip for free, telemarketers...don't make the FIRST freaking question out of your mouth about something NOT related to entertainment! Jerks. {Deep Breath}. Okay.

    If this "survey" had started with "Are you watching a television program tonight?" What program are you watching? Do you watch this program often? Do you know if {Product A} is advertised on this program? Would you consider purchasing {Product A} if it was advertised on the program? Do you use {Product A}? and so on.

    You see how I did that? If you are going to be intrusive and invasive and deceptive at least be subtle about it.

    I was surveyed on another occasion about my medical conditions. The interviewer was upfront about it, but then when they got the questions about my medications I refused to answer the questions.

    "This is none of your business," I told him, "I'll gladly answer general questions about my treatment, but I will not answer specific questions about my medication, medication brands or my doctor's recommendations."

    The guy apologized but then immediately asked me another question about the brands of medication I was taking. "No, I refuse to answer." I repeated. And after he tried a third time I hung up on him.

    Second tip for you guys on the phone, know when you've crossed a line. If you are selling something and the customer isn't buying it, take a different tack. If he had slipped into another direction and asked "Of the following medications can you answer yes or no if you have taken any of them as a treatment in the past 12 months" and then read off a list I'dve have probably answered that question. Why? It's not specific about my current treatment. Indirect questions are better than direct questions.

    I was a telemarketer for one year a long time ago. I learned the lessons it takes to do the job. These guys now, I don't know, they aren't creative and they aren't subtle. Even from me who s probably more willing than most to be gentle to them.

    If you are a telemarketer, don't call me for any kind of municipal (fire, police, ambulance) charity. Don't call me for political party bullshit. Don't call me if you are going to waste my time (fake surveyors particularly). And Don't call me after 9pm and before 9am. Follow those rules and you'll have a good solid 60 seconds to convince me to listen to you; and that probably the best offer you've had all week.