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11:33 a.m. - July 18, 2006
I Am A Survey Taker I Am I Am
Starting yesterday, I’ve been lugging a Palm Pilot around recording what I drink. Every cup of coffee, every glass of water, even the beer and wine at home, it all goes into the Palm Pilot.

What, you say, the hell am I doing?

I’m taking a survey for a company. When I’m done, after two weeks, I send back the Palm Pilot and get $50.

Yes, I’m into taking online surveys.

I get about 6 to 10 emails a day from four or five online survey companies, asking me my opinions about various products and services. Some of them are new ideas that are being tested, some are for existing products and services, some are looks at advertising or proposed advertising, and some are various questions about attitudes.

It’s all been very interesting. I’ve been doing these for about three years. For most of these companies, I accumulate points that I can exchange for cash or merchandise. Some of the merch is pretty good, if you are patient and get some points in your account. If they have cash available, I take it, because I likes me some folding money, yo.

However, sometimes the questions grate on me.

Cell phone companies do these surveys every week, it seems. And they’re all the same questions:

• How long do you have to go on your contract?
• When did you sign up?
• How was the sign up experience?
• When was the last time you were in a Cell Phone store?
• When was the last time you called customer service?
• When will you change providers?
• What kind of phone do you have?
• Do you like your phone?
• Do you like your network coverage?

All the time, the same questions from these people. I just answered this last week, and because our phones keep breaking we get new phones and we’re bound to Cingular for Kristin’s natural lifespan, so stop it with the questions already!

Financial services companies also carpet bomb you with surveys, asking about their advertising and if you ‘trust’ the company. However, they were very interested in my opinion when Liz was working and we had two incomes. Now, since it’s only my income for the time being, not so much. Our income has fallen into the ‘yeah, whatever, dude’ range for them instead of the ‘please please throw money to us’ range.
Some of the surveys are comical. One company always asks you about brands, and how you feel about the brands and how they make you feel.

They even ask if the brand was a person, what kind of person the brand would be. Would you hang out with the brand? Would you buy the brand a beer? Would you try to seduce the brand to take it home and ravage it, only to regret your actions in the morning, and not return the phone calls or emails of the brand, leaving the brand to post in its blog about loneliness and heartbreak and how cats rule and boys drool?

These companies also ask about new product concepts and ideas, where they describe a series of potential new products and ask if you would buy it. However, when you tell the company that the new product is heinous, and that they wouldn’t touch it even if you PAID you to take it home, they keep asking questions about ‘how many would you buy’ and ‘who in your household would like this’ and ‘would this be a replacement for a product you already have’?

I told you morons I thought it was a nasty idea. Why can’t you just move along, please?

I swear this is how those KFC bowls got green lighted. You know, the ones with the chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, gravy and cheese.

To take these surveys, first they ask you a bunch of demographic questions, from age, race and sex, to income information, to where you live. Every time, you have to answer these questions.

The thing is they have my email address. I’m signed up to be in the panel. Why can’t you just load my information in the survey already, and only send me surveys where they want me to participate?

Because there’s nothing more irritating than answering about six or seven pages of questions, only to find that “hey, we have enough responses from people of your ilk, so buzz off, but here’s an entry into the sweepstakes that you won’t win.”

Sometimes the surveys are long. I remember one survey about beer taking 45 minutes or so to plow through, because they asked all kinds of minutiae about your beer drinking habits, THEN asked about labels and THEN asked about bottle shape and THEN asked about if this brand of beer was cool or not, and THEN asked more questions about what you like in a beer.

Hey, it was beer, I dealt with it.

Anyway, once in a while I do take a neat survey, for a lot of points, and sometimes I even see the products that I tested or gave opinions about on the market, so it’s a neat thing at times.

Besides, who couldn’t use a bit of extra folding money, even if it’s 10 minutes of tedium, or carrying around a Palm Pilot for two weeks, to get it?


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