And Here I Felt Soooo Special

I wasn't particularly surprised with the phone call I received a few weeks back. I've had similar ones many times before. It was yet another request to participate in.... A Survey.

I must be on some kind of "list" (although I am scared to find out exactly what list that could possibly be), as I am often solicited for opinion polls. From phone surveys to in-person conferences, I've done them all.

So I didn't mind. As a matter of fact, I was somewhat honoured this time around: Audience Studies Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio wanted to know what I thought about an actual TV sitcom pilot!

Coolness! Visions of a Seinfeld-esque episode flashed through my head.

An official looking package was delivered via UPS with a DVD and instructions asking me to watch it on a specific date so they could interview me the following day.

Oh Boy!

The big day arrived and I watched the show as instructed. On my TV (not on a computer), all in one sitting (no stopping), only once, no notes (um, wha?) and no fast-forwarding through the commercials (Commercials??? On a pilot?? Oh well, what did I know...) I was also asked to fill in a seven - question survey immediately following the viewing:

1) Overall, how would you rate the progam?
2) How would you rate the storyline?
3) Which character did you like best?
4) Which character did you like least?
5) Should there be equal amounts of comedy and drama in the show?
6) What parts of the show should be changed or updated?
7) If it were developed into a half-hour comedy series, would you watch?

So, like a good "select member of their preview audience", I dutifully followed the albeit strange, rules.

But soon after it began, I realized something wasn't right. This was an OLD show. With OLD commericals.

WTF? The Rocky LaPorte Show? It was bad. Really, really, bad.

Did I mention it was bad? Cause it was.

After cringing through 22 minutes, the credits, thank the Gods, finally rolled. And before I did anything else I GOOGLED it... because more than just the acting stunk. Something was fishy about this whole thing.

It was the best decision I made all day.

You see, *sniff* .... they didn't want my opinion on the show after all. It was a market research company tricking me (and many others over the past few years) to watch THE COMMERCIALS.

Bastards.

So I was ready when the "interviewer" called me the next day.

"Is this a good time to ask you a few quesions?" she sweetly asked.

"Sure." I stayed calm.

"Did you watch the DVD?"

"Yup. But I'm not answering any questions about the commercials. I was told I was going to be asked about the TV show. After watching it, I Googled it and found many blog posts about how this is NOT a survey about the show. It is a marketing scheme about the commercials that were in it."

She didn't like that. "Well, you should have told us that before we sent you the DVD."

I got defensive with her snarky attitude now. "I didn't know until I GOT the DVD what it was. Since this is not a survey about the show itself, I'm not interested in participating. Thank you."

Well, at least I am smart enough to save myself an hour of interview questions.

And here I thought I was sooooo special.

I feel so, so....

used.

33 People would rather be commenting:

pinklea said...

That is strange, for sure! I'm on the same "list" as you, I think, because I am frequently phoned to do surveys, but I have never been asked to do what they asked you to do. Good for you for figuring it out! (And if they call me, I will now know to refuse!)

Sistertex said...

Wow - now there is a slant I had not heard before. Couldn't be more obnoxious than that! Glad that you figured it out, perhaps if enough people do what you did, they will stop that kind of deceptiveness!
Way to go!

April said...

ewww that's slimy!

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Isn't that something! You were smart to find out it was a marketing scheme to find out about the commercials. I bet you really caught that interviewer by surprise! Too bad the show stunk.

Babs-beetle said...

Oh, I hate that these people who invade my private time. I have found that, no matter how genuine they seem to be, they use and abuse the answers you give by passing your information on to companies who then try to brow beat you in to parting with money for something!

ReformingGeek said...

Why don't they just say I've got a 10 minute video of commercials I'd like you to watch? Some people might do it. But, if you're tricking me, um, no!

Good story!

Badass Geek said...

Apparently the ol' Bait And Switch method still works.

Daisy said...

Good for you for sniffing out the devious scheme!

feefifoto said...

Smart you. I hope you made them cry -- they deserved it.

I once tested a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Actually, I had the placebo. I had strict instructions on how much to use, when to brush, how to brush and how long, and twice I had to visit a research dentist and have him test my sensitivity. I knew I had the placebo without being told because my teeth were as sensitive as ever. The testing was eerie - exactly like the scene from Marathon Man where Lawrence Olivier drills into Dustin Hoffman's teeth and asks, in a German accent, "Is it safe?" The research dentist even had a German accent, coincidentally, I'm sure. He kept poking my teeth and gums with this metal thing that had ice water running through it. And then he had to peel me off the ceiling. On the whole, I'd have to say the torture wasn't worth the $100 they paid me.

Ashley said...

Couldn't they have come up with a more convincing "pilot" to at least keep you engaged? Or maybe the study was about whether or not good commercials could keep you engaged even through a terrible tv show. Anyways, it reminded me of this SMBC from last week:
http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1582

Ashley said...

I should add that one day I will learn the most basic of html so I don't have to post links that look so ugly on your blog :o)

Maureen said...

Pinklea: Yes, here's hoping my experience warns others out there... save you the horror of actually having to watch that terrible show!

Sistertex: Thanks! Yeah, I had never heard of this tactic before either; serves me right for thinking someone would want my opinion on a tv show... *sigh*

April: That's for sure! Although I made sure not to get nasty to the interviewer... that must be a horrible job to have to do.

Karen: Yeah, I made sure she knew about all the bad press on the net. Hopefully, it will trickle up to her superiors. But then again, they'll just find another method when this one stops working.

Babs: Me too! Here I was just trying to help, and I get suckered in. Typical me.

Reforming Geek: Yeah! AT least you'd know what you're getting into, and they wouldn't have to deal with upset participants.

Badass Geek: Yup, that's for sure; especially when there are still naiive people out there like moi.

Daisy: I was lucky; next time, I'll Google FIRST. (Did I just say "next time?" Geesh, you'd think I'd learn my lesson!)

Feefifoto: Ahahaha! Sorry to laugh, but as soon as you said "dentist" I knew this wouldn't be good. A hundred bucks sounds good... BEFORE you participate, eh?

Ashley: Just goes to show how cheap they are; that show was probably a near-giveaway it was so bad... and thanks for the link! I have never been to that site before! That was just perfect! (and the link was easy to copy and paste ;) )

Janet said...

That IS a fairly disgusting tactic!

The Green Stone Woman said...

That's a very tricky way to do a survey and completely unscrupulous. They ought to be reported to somebody somewhere. but how? Good for you for not falling for the scheme.

DJ Kirkby said...

Very sneaky indeed!

JD at I Do Things said...

Oh, no. I'm glad you thought to Google it. I wouldn't have been that smart. And good for you: standing up the interview lady. I hope more people do that, and these evil marketers go out of business.

Bruce said...

There were all sorts of red flags on that one from the get-go. If it were a pilot, they would not have sent it out on DVD. Anything like that hits the internet as soon as it is in the public's hands. Surveys for target markets are always done in mass and under controlled conditions, never through the mail. Too many variables pop up.

We hope to be speacial and utilized for our uniqe skills, but sadly in the end, we are just a grain of salt in a very, very large melting pot. Look at the bright side, you got really nice coaster out of it.

toners said...

Ugh...these companies try to find so many ways to get around people! To take up so much of your time too - that's just plain ol' wrong!

Ingrid said...

Those sneaky .. ugh :)

Jeff said...

Ok, now that's just dumb.

But I must say, you have way more control than I do. I would have had a field day with that "interview" afterwords. But I'm just evil that way.

VE said...

Imagine what I would have made up about those commercials when they called?

jay said...

Yep. You were used. Why don't they just ask, if they want opinions about the commercials? Stupid people.

DJ Kirkby said...

I tagged you over on my blog today so you've no excuse to not get on with another blog post!

Maureen said...

Janet: Wasn't it? I can't imagine this working very often...

The Green Stone Woman: Unfortunately the only way to make some kind of impact is to be more wary; and less naiive - which is too bad, since I DID want to help out! Now I will be far more careful.

DJ: Yes, sneaky and marketing are synonymous at times.

JD: I can't imagine doing that for a living. Must really suck to be one of their interviewers.

Bruce: Actually a frizbee...

Toners: You are right. Okay, so I lost 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back, but at least I saved at least another hour, so I figure I was ahead of the game.

Ingrid: Exactly!

Jeff: Well, I could have easily poured out my frustration a lot more forcibly with her, but I know it wouldn't have done any good in the long run. I actually felt sorry for her having to do such a sucky job.

Oh VE: I should send them your address... just to read about the results on your blog.

Jay: I know! You'll get a lot more results with honesty, IMHO.

DJ: Oh Oh! On my way over... ;)

Vegas Princess said...

That is the strangest thing I have ever heard. They are getting crafty with their marketing ways.

Luckily for me I am exempt from all surveys since I work in the media. If you need to get out of one or want them to stop calling the easiest thing to do is to tell them you work in TV news. They will never call again.

Lady Banana said...

What a cheap trick... Thanks for pointing it out because I can imagine it happening to me and I will know what to do now! lol

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

How WEIRD!!!!! I wonder if she would have been any nicer if you had gone ahead and answered but just said things like, "I dunno the answer to that question, because I always fast forward past commercials."

OR if I wanted to be really honest I'd have had to say, "I put all the commercials on MUTE and then play a game with my kids whereby we make fun of the commercials while attempting to determine what they're trying to sell us."

Maureen said...

Vegas Princess: Okay, I HAVE to remember that one... brilliant!

Lady Banana: Fore-warned is Four-armed... erm, or something like that...

Ahahaha Jill! The Mute idea would have been perfect!

Franc said...

Something similar happened to me, not too long ago. Some newspaper called me to resubscribe. I told him I was not interrested, because I had cancelled my subscription only 2 weeks before because of delivery problems. He insisted that I should get the online version. When I refused a second time, he just hung up without saying another word...

Michelle Gartner said...

That is odd, it seems like a lot of wasted money though to analze the commercials. I would think there is a more effective way instead of tricking people.

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carmar76 said...

Oh, I wish I would have found your blog much sooner! I was part of that same marketing scheme (The Rocky LaPorte Show & all!), but I had no clue! I spent an hour & a half on the phone with the interviewer (who was very nice, I must say) answering the same 5 questions over & over again, it felt like!

This post wsa great, thank you for sharing! At least now I know what the deal was. Better late than never... : )

CarrieMarie

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for giving the heads up on this. I just got one of these phone calls and received my "Rocky LaPorte" DVD in the mail. I thought it was funny that all the prizes in the "prize booklet" were food products and they wanted you to choose from them, plus you weren't allowed to look at the 2nd prize booklet until after you watched the DVD. Probably to see if your choice of "prizes" changed after watching the show - hence the reason they don't want you to skip thru the commercials. I probably wouldn't mind previewing commercials for them if they were straight up about it, but I don't plan on even watching this now.

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