Opinion: And the survey says …


A research firm offered me a complimentary $25 gift card from a local supermarket for answering a few questions online. I figured it was a marketing scam. I wasn’t born yesterday. In fact, as you’ll see, I was born 100 years ago.

I had to give permission for my responses to be forwarded to businesses that would contact me to pitch their products. What was I thinking?

The first line asked for my birthday. In the drop-down menu, I chose the earliest birth year listed: 1918. I thought that might dissuade life insurance companies from pestering me.

Several odd questions followed:

  • 92 percent of females who fill out this survey want to receive free samples. Do you? (I’m a guy. How do I answer that? I think the first question on tests should be the easiest).
  • 40 percent of survey takers meditate. Do you? (Yes. I’m currently deep in thought, wondering why I’m doing this for a lousy 25 bucks).

They asked my level of education. The last choice was: “I’d rather not answer this.” That response wasn’t available for my mental state, my sex life or my financial status. But did I finish high school? Apparently, that’s getting way too personal.

Next up:  Have you considered replacing your home’s aluminum siding?

I clicked “yes.” I was afraid that too many “no” answers would suggest I was just in this for the free frozen pizzas. While I was still typing, the phone rang.

“Mr. Wolfsie, this is Monroe Home Improvement. Based on your response 45 seconds ago, we have determined you could benefit from our aluminum siding, which comes with a lifetime warranty.”

“Look at the survey. I’m 100 years old. Could I rent your siding?”

At the end, the research company reserved the option of substituting a prize equivalent to $25 in free groceries, which probably meant a knock-off Rolex. I called the hotline and told the woman I felt I had been conned and that the entire questionnaire was a waste of my time.

She said 82 percent of the people who took the survey felt exactly the same way.

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