September 27, 2006

Should I resolve never to answer a telephone survey again?

I'm on the do-not-call list, and when I get a call that slips through one of the loopholes, I usually cut it right off. We do not accept phone solicitations. That's a stock phrase at my end. We do not accept computer-dialed calls at this number. That's what I say when I answer and there's a lag in the response time. But I am sometimes willing to respond to a survey. After last night, however, I think I'm going to add a new stock phrase: We don't do surveys.

I agreed to do a survey, even though I didn't recognize the name of the organization or ask any questions about it. I answered a few questions: how likely am I to vote, my opinion of George Bush, my opinion of Jim Doyle, my opinion of Mark Green (Doyle's Republican challenger in the Wisconsin governor's race). On the latter two questions, I wanted an answer right in the middle, but I couldn't get any closer to the middle than "slightly favorable" or "slightly unfavorable." I said I needed a middle choice. The next question was something like: "Do you think Jim Doyle fights for the middle class?" Now, I think that's a bogus question. Instead of saying, I'm not taking this survey, I once again say I need a choice in the middle. At that point, my questioner says "Thank you for your participation" and rejects me!

On reflection, I assume it was a Doyle campaign operation, seeking to identify voters to prompt to vote on election day. I think it's a fraud to purport to be a survey when that is not your real purpose, and rejecting me before I got it together to reject them irks me so much, I feel like holding it against Doyle. [NOTE: Based on the comments, I believe the call was tied to the Green campaign, so I feel like holding it against Green.]

I don't like to ruin things for the legitimate surveys out there, but I feel ripped off. Should I refuse all surveys in the future or just resolve to be aggressive at that outset and interrogate the telephoner about the nature of the survey? That's a lot of trouble. A phone call disturbs me at home. Why should I permit it to make further inroads into my serenity by dragging me into the role of suspicious interrogator?

48 comments:

Gerry said...

Was it the Mellman Group?

Ann Althouse said...

I don't remember the name, but I think it had more than two words.

Mickey said...

Thats pretty funny. Why dont you hire an attorney?
fraud- lol

Seriously though, I would think your home time is more important to you than answering phone calls from someone you dont know.
Call`arg I.D., new invention.
Do have a friend who`s an attorney who likes to answer crank calls just to argue.

Mickey said...

"Should I resolve never to answer a telephone survey again?"

Yes !

Ann Althouse said...

Mickey: Not every word that is also a legal term is always a legal term when it's used -- even by a lawprof.

Too Many Jims said...

Hold it against Doyle if you like, but this sounds pretty tame compared to many b.s. "surveys" that politicians use. More typical I think is: "Do you know {the Democratic candidate} wants to give illegal mexican rapists full college tuition at State U.?" or "Do you know that {the Republican candidate} wants to make the elderly live in shanty towns and eat cat food?"

nypundit said...

Ann,

It was most likely a market research firm (such as The Mellman Group that gerry mentioned) getting the latest polling data for their client in this case, most likely Doyle since the Mellman Group works for almost strictly Democratic candidates.

George said...

I never trust phone poll results.

One summer while in college I worked for a company that billed itself to the world as "the Cadillac" of opinion research firms.

Once you've seen how the sausages are made, you never want to eat one again.

Gerry said...

Then it was not the Doyle campaign; the Mellman Group is their pollster. That said, it could easily have been any one of several liberal groups who are doing GOTV.

Too Many Jims said...

Gerry,

Out of curiousity, would the Mellman Group necessarily identify themselves as such?

Gerry said...

Yes, I believe pollsters of the calibre of the Mellman Group would identify themselves. Same for the GOP side of things with Tarrance or Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, and other Democratic firms like Lake, Snell, Perry.

My experience is that the big dogs like that do not play those games.

MadisonMan said...

There is absolutely nothing more annoying than a recorded message from a Candidate playing when you pick up the phone. "Hi! I'm Kathleen Falk....!" They should be banned banned banned.

Too Many Jims said...

Gerry,

Thanks for the response.

Matt said...

I worked at UWSC in college (with John, for a time, actually), and now work for a very large research organization, where part of my job is designing and implementing surveys. That phone call was a push poll, and not what I do. I suggest you interrogate the interviewer. The question you need to ask, specifically, and this goes for everyone, is "Who is paying for this?" If it's not an organization you've heard of, or can easily verify by a bit of Googling, don't do it.

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry: You brought up Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates. I believe that's what it was.

Fenrisulven said...

At that point, my questioner says "Thank you for your participation" and rejects me!

Its also common for phone pollsters to end the call if your answers don't match up with the desired results.


I hate phone solicters. I used to answer their first question, then place the phone down and walk away - let them figure it out, they're the ones wasting my time. Now I just hang up on them immediately.

And using recorded messages to reach voters is lunacy. Why would you expect someone to vote for you after insulting their intelligence?

Icepick said...

my opinion of Jim Doyle....

I first read that as "my opinion of Doyle" and thought "They're doing opinion surveys about blog commenters now?!" Then I re-read it and saw that they weren't asking about this guy after all. Whew, that's a relief. I'd hate to think that blog commenting would become pollster driven....

Too Many Jims said...

"You brought up Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates. I believe that's what it was."

If that is so, it is likely that the call was from Green (or a group sympathetic to him). Do you feel like holding it against Green?

Actually, this jives nicely with my initial theory which was that it was a Rove tactic. Rove knew how you would react (i.e. hold it against the group you thought was responsible for the call) and therefore instructed the "pollster" to leave you with the impression that the call was coming from Doyle's camp. (And yes I am kidding about that -- I think.)

Kent said...

Should I refuse all surveys in the future or just resolve to be aggressive at that outset and interrogate the telephoner about the nature of the survey?

My counsel is to refuse the surveys. Given the selection effects with which phone surveys are rife, I think "legitimate phone survey" is an oxymoron.

I have reached the point where I don't pick up the phone if the caller ID isn't someone I know.

A couple of summers ago, my niece got a summer job as a telemarketer. Her parents were profoundly embarrassed. Not as embarrassed, perhaps, as if she had announced that she was going into the sex service industry; but embarrassed nonetheless. I really felt for them.

Ann Althouse said...

"If that is so, it is likely that the call was from Green (or a group sympathetic to him). Do you feel like holding it against Green?"

So, seriously, folks, do you think I'm more likely to vote for Green than for Doyle?

Abraham said...

So, seriously, folks, do you think I'm more likely to vote for Green than for Doyle?

It's hard for me to imagine that anyone could support Doyle after his shenanigans with the state elections board.

JenL said...

Here in Ohio, we get tons of annoying so-called "polls" that are really nothing more than one of the political campaigns asking "questions" like Jim C's examples - stuff like "candidate x voted to increase your taxes while candidate y voted to balance the budget. Do you think a balanced budget is important? Press 1 for yes." A "no" gets you hung up on.

Come on - don't act like I'm dumb enough to buy the notion that your political advertising is really an interest in my opinion.

MadisonMan said...

It's hard for me to imagine that anyone could support Doyle after his shenanigans with the state elections board.

Look at the alternative -- someone who, if my daughter is raped -- wants her to carry that child to term. Someone who wants to shut the door on the economic development that could accompany some kinds of basic research. Someone who is all for stifling free speech.

The Republicans really dropped the ball here -- a moderate would've stood a good chance, but as usual, some right-wing fringer got the nomination. And again, we're stuck deciding between do-nothing Kohl and Mr. Anonymous for the Senate Seat. The Democrats can't seem to nominate anyone decent for President, and Republicans in WI, at least, can't nominate anyone that a centrist can stomach.

J said...

Great post, though I'd like to see more thoughts on why you participated in the "survey", or whatever it was, just to understand your mindset. The primary reason I'm so suspicious of polls is because I can't conceive of a circumstance under which I would answer questions about politics for a cold caller.


Word verification: Yekum
I not going to say what it is, this being a family blog and all, but if you're curious: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/y/yekum.html

BJK said...

So, seriously, folks, do you think I'm more likely to vote for Green than for Doyle?

Actually, that's a fair question, IMO. The safety and national security issues that have pulled you towards President Bush are virtually non-existant on the State level. Likewise, you've admitted on the blog that you're to the left of Green on his social conservative issues.

Is that enough to overcome Governor Doyle's pimping out state contracts and perpetual gaming contracts for campaign donations (allegedly), and "balancing" the State budget by creating future deficits? (I haven't even mentioned the Elections board yet.)

If I had to guess, I'd say Green....but I'm not putting money on it.

Elizabeth said...

My first line in the sand was to hang on up on the kinds of push polling Jim C describes, after making a nasty comment about the practice. Now, since I use a cell phone exclusively, I just don't answer unidentified numbers, and skip the whole mess.

I used to answer their first question, then place the phone down and walk away - let them figure it out Fen, what a great tactic.

Kirk Parker said...

You should definitely refuse all surveys in the future. I can't see what public benefit comes from them, it's a terrible imposition on your time, too many aren't really impartial surveys in the first place...

Word verification: fidfuqkk

"What I think of polling organizations"

Balfegor said...

when I get a call that slips through one of the loopholes, I usually cut it right off.

On my landline, my response is to pretend I don't speak English. It is a laugh. On my cel, I can't really do that, since an unknown caller might be from work or something, but I get very few unwanted calls on my cel. Usually it's an innocent mistaken number. Or someone speaking Spanish.

Anonymous said...

I had some service done at the local Toyota dealer and was told that I might receive a written satisfaction survey from Toyota. If I gave the dealer "excellent" ratings across the board, the dealer told me, they'd give me a free oil change!

As a former marketer, I was both repulsed and impressed. It's a really a great deal for the dealer and the customer. If you really felt the service was "very good" you're not going to mark "excellent" in order to get a free oil change? And the dealer gets to boast about their great customer satisfaction ratings.

The only people who lose out are 1) the folks who might rely on those ratings to choose a service station and 2) the marketing people at Toyota who think their surveys mean something.

To paraphrase Twain: "There's lies, damned lies, and marketing surveys."

Too Many Jims said...

"So, seriously, folks, do you think I'm more likely to vote for Green than for Doyle?"

Honestly, I don't know enouh about Green (nor Doyle for that matter) to venture a guess. But from your use of the wording: "I feel like holding it against {him}"; I assumed you were leaning toward Doyle. I mean, how else are you going to "hold it against him" other than not voting for him when you otherwise would have.

I asked the question as a matter of clarification and to give you the opportunity to demonstrate that you are not some unthinking right winger which some commenters may suggest.

Ricardo said...

"Surveys" are the new solicitation call, and there are a lot of surveys out there. If you stick with the survey (keep answering the questions) you find many of the questions getting more and more pointed. "If you were to buy a condominium today, what amenities would you want and how much would you be willing to pay for the condominium?" "Would you be willing to trade in your car if the numbers were right?" (whatever that means). Many of these surveys are sponsored by companies who want to market to you, but are steering clear of the no-call lists. The right answer to all of these calls is "I am on the federal and state no-call lists, and you are violating those lists with this telephone call." Most surveys immediately hang up if you use these words. And one of the problems with answering even one survey is that you are establishing "a relationship" with the source of the call, which gives them the right to call you again or having one of their "trading partners" call you again, because that will not be in violation of the no-call lists (companies with which you have "a relationship" are excluded). So, just say NO.

Fenrisulven said...

On my landline, my response is to pretend I don't speak English. It is a laugh

My father was entertaining. When I was away in the Marine Corps, solicters would call my parents house asking for me. He would moan "I'm sorry, our son passed away last week" just to make them feel horrible for calling.

Actually, the nicest thing you can do for telemarketers is to simply hang up on them. They have long lists of numbers, and the more time they wast on you, the less money they make.

Gerry said...

If it was Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, then it was likely a GOP poll.

If I had to guess, you were already leaning towards Doyle.

Also, you can take the cache-control out. It also did not work. It is, without question to me now, a Firefox bug. I'm going to pull the string with the development community.

G

Zeb Quinn said...

So, seriously, folks, do you think I'm more likely to vote for Green than for Doyle?

To belabor the probable obvious, the answer to that depends upon which candidate you consider, under all the circumstances, would be the best governor.

Political telehone "polls" are almost always irritating in the extreme regardless of the political orientation of the candidate on whose behalf the poll is conducted. And modern campaign managers and consultants believe that such polling is an indispensible part of state-of-the-art campaigns. So, with that said, I don't believe that your telephone poll experience as you describe it ought to carry much heft in your decision-making.

Me, I only hold it against a candidate when blatant falsehoods are stated as fact as a part of their push-polling premise. And then they lose me, even if it is a candidate that I otherwise was strongly leaning towards. And, yes, that has happened. I didn't vote for the opponent. I just withheld my vote in that particular contest.

Tim said...

I have a land-line for three reasons:
1) My alarm company requires it.
2) My DSL subscription requires it.
3) 911 service.

Everybody I would like to talk to our cell phone numbers, so by default, somebody calling the land-line is a solicitor.

The answering machine is set for "Do Not Disturb" mode. Here's what our answering machine message says:

"Hi! Thanks for calling [our phone number]. Since anybody we'd like to talk to already has our cell phone numbers, you must be a solicitor. Please leave the name of your company after the beep, and we'll add you to the list of people never to do business with. Thanks!"

Derve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gerry said...

Ann,

Regarding the cache issue... I have been in a bit of a back and forth with some of the Mozilla developers (you can follow the discussion here, including any path forward they come up with in the future).

Basically, one of them is saying that Blogspot is returning some funky things with their headers due to the way that Blogspot handles things (such as having the Last-Modified header being a small bit in the future from the Date header), and they are saying this causes some odd results in Firefox.

I pointed out that while this may be true, Firefox was still not following the RFC standards. I quoted them what it says:

""HTTP/1.1 clients and caches MUST treat other invalid date formats, especially
including the value "0", as in the past (i.e., "already expired")."

But after I quoted them this, I got to thinking about how we had the Expires set to -1. Per the standard, it should be treated as an invalid date and therefore already expired. But then I thought that maybe the coder had gotten confused by the spec, so I searched through the Firefox source code and found this bit of code. In it, they are checking to see if the Expires field can be parsed as a date successfully. If it cannot, then it checks to see if it is "0". If so, then it says that the header exists and has a zero value. Otherwise it treats it as if that header did not exist.

This is definitely a bug because the -1 Expires should have worked per the RFC, and by this code it definitely will not (the bad lines are lines 545 through 552)

Longwinded way of saying-- try this:

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires" CONTENT="0">

Eddie said...

Ann,

My mother does these phone surveys for a living, on the other end. Her firm, out of Brookfield, WI contracts with many organizations and companies. I don't believe the WI do not call list applies to surveys, only to telemarketers, which her firm is not. They do annoy people though.

It's not the callers fault the questions are worded the way they are. That's the way the customer wanted them worded. They don't tend to like answers that aren't commited as black or white.

Abraham said...

Look at the alternative -- someone who, if my daughter is raped -- wants her to carry that child to term. Someone who wants to shut the door on the economic development that could accompany some kinds of basic research. Someone who is all for stifling free speech.

Even granted all of the above, I'd rather get rid of what I believe is a genuinely dirty executive and express my policy preferences through my legislators.

Derve said...

I'd rather get rid of what I believe is a genuinely dirty executive and express my policy preferences through my legislators.

You must not be familiar with Wisconsin legislators then, Abraham. Not a big fan myself, but Gov. Doyle's vetos are all that's been standing against some pretty backwards legislative initiatives. Balance.

Revenant said...

Personally, I always lie on phone surveys. If they're going to bother me at home I might as well do what I can to make their lives worse.

Gerry said...

One more note on the cache.

I found another bug that was reported for Firefox that explains why the co-cache fixes we put in did not work. The bug is titled "Cache-control in Meta-Tag is ignored".

So I feel better that the attempts we made so far should have worked, but Firefox having some bugs is why they did not work.

One of the developers wrote, on that bug report, "But we do ignore no-cache, no-store in meta tags. We do obey expires so we will
reload pages that change often". That means that the <META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires" CONTENT="0"> should work (and it should have worked when we had it at -1, except for that OTHER bug I found that had it only working when set to "0").

Ann Althouse said...

Wow, thanks, Gerry. If this works, I should put this in a front page post to help other bloggers, but I would need you to put into words what to do. I mean, I've been following the problem, but I'd have a hard time explaining to people who were just starting to pay attention to it.

Abraham said...

Not a big fan myself, but Gov. Doyle's vetos are all that's been standing against some pretty backwards legislative initiatives. Balance.

So, "sure he's a corrupt bastard, but he's our corrupt bastard." Sorta makes all the democratic "culture of corruption" sloganeering sound pretty hollow.

Ann Althouse said...

Yikes, Gerry, that sent the page back to Sept. 11, 2004! I can't imagine why.

DNR Mom said...

Ann, I believe the WI elections board history explains an important detail. When it was formed, the then-Republican majority made it partisan.

This nugget came from Bill Kraus on Joy Cardin's Wis Public Radio "Week in Review" program last Friday. He seemed to think there's nothing untoward about Dems contacting Dems or Reps contacting Reps. Bill also opined that if Dems had been the "ins" then, they'd have probably done the same thing.

HaloJonesFan said...

I can't believe that anyone thought the "Do Not Call Registry" would work. There are enough loopholes and weasel-words in the registry definition that you could, with suitable language, completely ignore it. Ever bought a car? Well, then you have a 'prior business relationship' with car dealers. Do you own a computer? Anyone selling anything related to computer has an 'in'. Given the way that mergers and sales and acquisitions have gone, there are about six different companies who "legitemately" have my phone number from when I registered my dishwasher to activate the warranty.

Fenrisulven said...

/test