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June 17th, 2009

My Surveys Bring All the Boys to the Yard

One side-effect of our current OMGBUSY-ness is that laurie_robey and I have been eating out a lot lately because we're either too rushed or too tired to be bothered with our own cooking. Almost invariably any more it seems, regardless of the type of place from fast food to super-swank, the restaurant manager comes out, introduces themselves, shows us pictures of their kids and asks how my dad's hip is doing, then asks us to either call a 1-800 number or go to a website and fill out a customer satisfaction survey, in return for which we'll get a coupon worth $0.25 off our next $25 purchase and have a chance to win France [1].

The problem with these surveys is that they never ask the questions I want to answer. They always have things like:

"How satisfied were you with (some item you never get)?
1- satisfied, 2- very satisfied, 3- very very satisfied, 4- orgasmic, 5- left body in rapture"

...or...

"How clean was the store?
1- clean, 2- very clean, 3- shiny, 4- surgical quality, 5- the surface of the moon isn't this sterile"

But the questions I want to answer are things like:

"How annoyed are you that we keep getting rid of your favorite item?
1- annoyed, 2- very annoyed, 3- kick in the shins annoyed, 4- kick in the groin annoyed, 5- bell tower time"

...and...

"How irritatingly loud was the music blasting?
1- irritating, 2- very irritating, 3- my ears are bleeding, 4- so are my eyes, 5- my bones all liquefied and I'm dead now"

So after a while, I stopped filling them out. But it seems like the more I don't fill them out, the harder they try to get me to. You've never seen "degraded" until you've seen a waiter who makes $0.34/hour begging for a positive review and also possibly a penny for the baby, sir! The manager of one place shot me with a taser and shoved the phone into my still-twitching hand; I gave them four ratings of "satisfied" to show my displeasure, I can tell you!

But in the end I wonder what the point of it all is; every company I've ever seen that does these marketing studies adopts a policy of "add more of the top 5% most popular stuff and get rid of the rest," which invariably leads to ice cream stores that only carry chocolate and vanilla (for instance) because no matter how much I may love mint chocolate chip, a product that only appeals to 40% of the populace doesn't justify its own expense, so the logic goes — but then after a while everybody stops buying ice cream because they're so damn sick of chocolate and vanilla. It's a cycle I've seen repeated again and again, but for whatever reason our culture can't seem to stop the carousel and get off.

-The Gneech

[1] Chance of winning France slightly less than chance of hell freezing over; certain restrictions apply. Offer not valid where regulated, taxed, or anywhere populated by human beings.

Moria

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