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29
Oct 03
Wed

How Not To Run a Door-to-Door Survey

That’s it. I’m not answering the doorbell anymore. No good can come out of it. I’ve had countless telecomm salespeople, religious nuts and midnight parcel delivery psychopaths. However, this afternoon was a watershed for traumatic door encounters.

So someone buzzes the door this afternoon. My ever-so-dependable “Stuart you answer the door” wussy flatmate happened to be legitimately indisposed at the time.

“Hello, I am doing door-to-door surveys, would you like to do one?”
“Erm, no sorry.”
“You get a scratchie.”
“Oh. Ok. Come right up.”

So this pudgy Asian girl bounded up the stairs and into my apartment, said, “Nice place you have here,” and launched straight into a rather lengthy self-administered questionnaire without any survey introduction at all.

Twenty minutes later, after answering countless mindnumbing questions on my softdrink drinking habits, I started questioning whether it was worth the scratchie. Example questions:

“Do you identify any of these drinks as masculine? What about feminine?”

“Do you strongly or slightly agree or disagree with the statement, ‘Solo is low on the fizz so you can slam it down fast?'”
To this, I just cracked up laughing and said, “Uh, I suppose so? Strongly?”

It did make me somewhat self-conscious when she asked, “What softdrink types do you know?” and I rattled off a list so fast that she had to ask me to repeat it several times because she couldn’t keep up (and all she had to do was circle the brands). I guess we are all guilty of consumerism when we can run off a list of 10 different
softdrinks without thinking. I was relieved when the demographics section, signalling the end of the survey, arrived.

“Would you be interested in participating in any focus groups?”
“Definitely not.”
“Do you have an internet connection? Yeah? What about our online research program?”
“Hmmm, yeah ok.”

I got this really weird look from her, like she didn’t realise how much more comfortable it is to answer questionnaires online. Anyway, she took down my contact details, and it was only when she asked for my e-mail address that I thought it probably would have been wise to ask her if there was a privacy policy or something attached to the information I was giving. And it only occurred to me because the event of disclosing my e-mail
address signalled, “Spam! Spam! Spam!” in my head. So I gave her an email address I had set up for situations like this.

Luckily, she later pulled out a slip of paper disclosing Millward Brown’s privacy policy, passed me two scratchies, and a slip of paper to sign. That’s when things got… interesting. As I was filling out the piece of paper, she continued asking rapid-fire questions and
talkingreallyfasteventhoughthesurveyhadfinished:

“So you’re a uni student right? What do you study?”
“Law.”
“Oh cool, at New South?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Ah, so what year are you in?”
“First year.”

This always elicits a quizzical look, because I don’t look like I’m 18 (despite what the cinema box office staff think), so inevitably I had to follow it up with an explanation.

“Oh this is my second degree. I did an IT degree first.”
“So how long was your first degree?”
“Four years.”
“And how long is law?”
“It’s another three years, yeah it’s a long slog!”
“Damn. I can’t imagine studying for five years, let alone seven…”
“Ah, but uni life is excellent. The only problem is that you don’t make money while you’re doing it!” I joked.
“Yeah… so you’re like… poor.”
“Uh…”
“Don’t you feel like you need to work? And why is law taking so long?”
“Well, in my first degree, I worked for about 18 months full-time and decided from that that the working life could wait.”
“Why didn’t you do law at the start? Didn’t you get the marks?”
“Yeah I did, but I wanted to do IT, and the course I did meant that I couldn’t do combined law at that stage.”

Quizzical look. More explanation required. A disturbing suspicion and discomfort growing.

“I got a scholarship for IT which meant that I couldn’t combine it with law, hence the longer time it takes to do the two degrees separately.”
“Oh wow, you got a scholarship?”
“Yeah.”
“At New South?”
“Yeah.”
“And now you’re doing law?”
“Yeah.”
“Are you really smart?”

What the? How the fuck are you supposed to answer a question like that?

“I’m alright, I suppose,” I muttered with a disturbed chuckle. Cue the bomb.
“Do you have a girlfriend?–“
“Uh… I–“
“–do you want to go out with me?”

I think I held my composure in a physical sense, but it took me a split second to regain my mental composure, which had been momentarily obliterated. (She was quite unattractive, by the way – that’s an important point.)

“Look, I don’t know you. And all you really know about me is that I drink too much Coke for my own good.”
“Oh…”

She left soon afterwards.

I felt violated. And I only won a measly $4 off the scratchies.

So, no more doorbells. Unless they’re really good looking.