Friday, September 09, 2005

Fraud surveys,deceptive surveyors

A friend (amazingly still remains a friend after that) knocks on the door one summer night.Bag on his back he looks suspicious,for my place is not known for people coming in with bags.Cricket bats,soccer balls,even skateboard is normal.But bags must indicate a hidden purpose.And so it proves to be.

Out of his sack he takes out printed forms of some kind.Some 8 pages of the most unwanted and private questions you'll ever answer.All for his project he says,we are supposed to co-operate.The project is on brand consciousness among today's retail clothing consumers so obviously the questions are very tricky.He is doing this project under the guidance of some Prof in IIM Lucknow he adds,giving pseudo credibilty to the act of his.Why IIM,what Lucknow,who project,where IIT;a confusing pattern floats in the mind,but we are supposed to answer questions not ask them.

"Are you patriotic?".This hits me.What does this have to do with buying clothes.I don't wear khadi,if that's what patriotic means.Anyway khadi is way to expensive for my tastes (read anything below 300 bucks,gifts excluded).So I figure I'm not patriotic and I write that.
There are a few regular ones after that.

Q.Do you friends influence what you are going to buy?.
A.Yes,depends on the amount of money they can lend.

Q.Do you always go for brands?
A.When someone else is paying,inevitably yes.When I have to pay I run to fashion street and get one for less than my budget.

Q.How much do you spend on clothing each month?
A.Depends on how many of my clothes are unwashable and torn.Usually 0 bucks a month.Get all new clothes when I get home.

Then the serious ones start coming-
Q.Are you insane?
A.Are you insane?

Q.Are you are satisfied with what you have achieved till now?
A.No,but I will if be I complete this form.

These questions rephrased repeat in a cycle.The are 5 choices-strongly agree,agree,neutral,disagree,strongly disagree.I give every one of the bubbles equal oppurtunity to be filled.Something I used to do in tough multiple choice exams.The pattern formed by the filled bubbles looked good.So I submitted it.

Finally there was one last question-
Q.Are you in complete control of your mind?
A.I thought I was,this form will make me rethink my position.

This friend of mine had to catch other innocent preys like myself so he leaves.Later I find out that he filled up half the forms by himself.He liked my bubble pattern theory and followed it in most questionnaires except when he was going insane.He got paid for it. &%$#@!.If the government wonders where do all they money given to IIM's and IIT's go,look no further.

I've answered surveys before this too.There was this survey regarding IIT and patriotism by our Hindi newsletter.My unique answers irked the surveyor,who quite understandably wasn't a friend of mine.We got into a bit of spat where he questioned my sanity.I tried telling him about the truth behind such surveys and opinion polls,but he was too sentimental about this.So he got eyeball to eyeball until a few friends interrupted.Obviously I was the one who was saved.

Another one was when a few outside college students distributed questionnaires to survey the psychological bend of mind of IIT'ians.My answers amused them more than anything and I guess set a wrong precedent for what IIT'ians really are.I couldn't resist it though.There were actually questions like "Have you ever contemplated suicide?".I wrote that once I went through these questions I seriously considered that option.They took my form away.I went ahead happy.

A SOM(school of management) student knocked on my door yesterday and uttered the word survey.I ran as hard as I could.

The question still remains in my mind.Do these surveys actually prove anything? Or they remain cover stories of health,business mags or newspapers who conduct surveys on virtually evey topic they can think of? Nothing more than that.

How is your opinion going to change if you find out that 80% of the people use the brand of toilet cleaner you're using? Or if you find out that the shoe polish you just used accounts for just 17% of the market share?

1 comment:

Phoenix said...

Well, you have a valid point there, about surveys, because most of them ARE indeed fairly futile. Even I don't see much point in them, except to gauge how creative people-bugged-enough-by-the-surveyor-to-fill-it-out can get...for it actually is fun to give wierd answers to wierder questions. Most of them are intended to be for far better purposes than what the result comes out as, and that's sad. A lot many are consumer surveys aimed at profiling the target consumer base, or some crap like that. Maybe it IS important for marketing ppl up there, dont really know, but if that is, it's far more productive for the surveyors if they entice verbal responses through interviews, although it is much more painful for the one answering.