At first glance, it seemed like a pretty good deal. Enjoy a complimentary $25 gift card from one of the local supermarkets. All it required was answering a few questions online.
I knew it was a marketing scheme. I wasn’t born yesterday. In fact, as you’ll see, I was born 114 years ago.
I had to agree to certain contractual terms, including my permission for the research firm to forward my responses to businesses so they might then contact me about a possible purchase of their products or services.
The first line asked for the date I was born. I was honest about the exact day in March, but I scrolled way to the bottom of the drop-down menu and found the earliest birth year listed. I clicked on 1900. I thought that might dissuade the life insurance sales people from pestering me with calls.
Next, I was confronted with several questions somewhat disguised as statements.
92 percent of females who fill out this survey want to receive free samples. Do you? (Was this a trick question? I’m a guy. How do I answer that? I think the first question on a test should always be the easiest.)
40 percent of those who fill out this survey meditate. Do you? (Yes, and right now I’m deep in thought, wondering why I am doing this for a lousy twenty-five bucks)
Then things started getting really serious.
8 percent of those who fill out this survey are unemployed. Are you?
6 percent of those who fill out this survey are clinically depressed. Are you?
11 percent of those who fill out this survey are in debt. Are you?
13 percent of men who fill out this survey need ED medicine. Do you?
Next, they asked for my level of education. One of the choices was: I’d rather not answer this. No such option was available for my mental state, my sex life or my financial status. But did I go to a two-year or four-year college? Apparently, that’s getting way too personal.
Here was another inquiry: Have you considered replacing the aluminum siding on your home?
Not only was I thinking about it, I had been meditating about it. I clicked yes, because I was afraid that too many “no” answers would have suggested I was just in this for the free frozen pizzas I was going to buy with my certificate. While I was still typing, the phone rang.
“Mr. Wolfsie, this is A. A. Monroe Home Improvement. Based on your response 45 seconds ago we have determined that you are exactly the kind of person who can benefit from our aluminum siding, which comes with a lifetime guarantee for as long as you own your home.”
“Look at the survey. I’m 114 years old. Can I rent aluminum siding?”
In a final notation, the research company reserved the option of substituting a prize worth the equivalent of the twenty-five dollars in free groceries, which probably meant a $12.00 knock-off Rolex. They also said that to get my reward, I had to submit the provided registration number, which, for the life of me, I could not find it anywhere. I called the hot line number and told the woman that I felt I had been misled 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.