Telephone Poll Trickery

I tend to be a phone prick. The sales people on the other end sense this and usually hang up before I say anything wiseass-ish. We’re on the Do Not Call list and anyone that does drop us a line is in for a treat as I might be deaf or maybe Pakistani depending on my mood. Someday I’ll work my way up to deaf Pakistani.

I prepared for the worst on Sunday when I saw a call from 919-375-1252. When I picked up and said hello, an automated message started up and explained that they ("they" was left undefined though the robot sounded pretty white) were doing a survey and that they’d only need three minutes of my time. I had three minutes and listened in.

At the first mention of Newt Gingrich I had to smile. Conserative politics! This was going to be fun. I was asked about my favorable/unfavorable opinion of him and to press 1 or 2 depending on my opinion. The list continued with Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.

The questions then went to Obama and how he was doing in office. Then stimulus questions. So far I was scoring 100% as my opinion is always right.

Next was a series of “who would you vote for” questions: “Who would you vote for between Newt Gingrich and Obama?” Press 1 for Newt Gingrich and 2 for Obama.” “Who would you vote for between Mitt Romney and Obama? Press 1 for Mitt Romney and 2 for Obama” (I’m writing this out for a reason… keep reading.) “Who would you vote for between Mike Huckabee and Obama? Press 1 for Mike Huckabee and 2 for Obama.” “Who would you vote for between Sarah Palin and Obama? Press 1 for Obama and 2 for Sarah Palin.”

What? I mentally replayed what I just heard and I heard it right… they flip flopped the numbers. Trickery! I don’t get why they would do this because they almost fooled me and I’m smart. I assume Sarah Palin supporters would immediately press 1. But then I realized that Obama supporters would more than likely just hit 2. I’m not sure what results they were fishing for, but no matter what, I’d think that 50% of the people (no matter what affiliation) would answer the opposite way if they weren’t listening which would give them the exact same results.

The next series of questions asked about my job and how satisfied I was.
The white robot thanked me and we parted ways.

I went and looked up the phone number online and only found a website for people complaining about being on the Do Not Call list and still getting these unwanted polling calls. Here’s what the Pew people have to say about that:

Legitimate survey research is exempt from the Telemarketing Sales Rule, which was adopted by the Federal Trade Commission to fight fraud and protect consumers from harassment. The rule covers marketing but not opinion polling or market research that does not involve an effort to sell you something. Nonetheless, our telephone survey interviewing centers will honor any request not to be called.

The way the questions were worded made me think this poll was not exactly “Legitimate survey research”

One of the best complaints on the was of what I would categorize as phone rape:
Caller Type: Political Call
Phone Number Report: Without realizing that I didn't know who was calling, I gave answers to a political survey from this number. I believe it is unethical not to identify the organization that is sponsoring the call. When I tried to call back, of course the answer was "We're sorry, your call did not go through." That's when I did the web search to see if anyone else had had problems with this phone number. This is a complaint! With my phone system I can block future calls, but I feel I've been exploited and that my privacy has been invaded.

That complaint made my three wasted minutes completely worthwhile.

5 comments:

feed the girl said...

Ooo... interesting. Sneaky little buggers is all I have to say about that.

Yzetta said...

I am glad I didn't pick up. I won't answer any survey that does not have a "die in a fire" option for Newt - or any of the rest for that matter.

Anonymous said...

I usually go with the straight up smart ass and just answer everything exactly the opposite of what they expect. To wit:

Pollster: "Do you think child murderers should get off without doing jail time?"

Me: "Well most of the time, sure. But not if it's like, you know, somebody I know. I mean, it's not like putting them in jail is going to bring back the dead kids or anything, right? Oh, sorry, gotta go. I got some meat going in a panini machine and its about to burn. Good luck with the poll." Click.

Anonymous said...

Just tell them that are a phone
consultant and that you charge
$125.00per hour - they can't hang
up fast enough...that is if you
get a live person- otherwise blow
a whistle into phone - it should
mess with their computer sound or
their ears when they play back tape

Anonymous said...

I ALWAYS do the polls and ALWAYS provide a list of totally conflicting answers.