Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Excuse Me?

Got a phone call this morning.

Question: "Good Morning. This is [didn't catch the name] from the Alaskan Democratic Party, we're conducting a survey. Who do you intend to vote for?"

Me: "Excuse me?"

Question: "Who do you intend to vote in the Alaskan presidential primary?"

Me: "None of your fucking business."

Response: "Pardon me?"

Me: "Would you like me to repeat it?"

Response: "Sir, we're just conducting a survey to determine the..."

Me: "Shut up. You didn't ask me if I'm a Democrat, Republican, or other. You didn't ask me who I favor, or who I think is the best candidate. You asked me who I intend to vote for - and that is none of your business."

Response: "Well, Mr. Wright..."

Me: "Stop talking. I have an unlisted phone number, I want to know how you got my name and number."

Response: "As a registered Democrat you are on our mailing list."

Me: "Negative, Shipmate. I'm not a registered Democrat. Try again."

Response: "Sir, I don't know. I'm just the person conducting the survey, they give me the list and I..."

Me: "Stop talking. Take my name, address, and phone number off your list now. Delete me from your computer. You have no business asking any American who they intend to vote for. You may conduct voluntary exit polls at the polling station, but you have no business calling my house prior to an election. Is that clear?"

Response: "Uh, then I am to assume you will be voting for the Republican candidate?"

Me: "Put your supervisor on the phone."

Response: "I work from home, Sir. Thank you for your time."



The Caller ID was blocked. Somehow I'm guessing this 'survey' was not sanctioned by the DNC - since I have gotten two automated calls from them showing an Alaska Democratic Party ID.

Seriously, this kind of bullshit pisses me off.


  1. C'mon Jim, tell us how you really feel. :)

  2. Well, you know me, I'm a little shy

  3. And wipe all that head juice off the walls.


  4. Do not think an unlisted number protects you. This is MBA 101 stuff - take the phone book, make an excel spreadsheet of the numbers. Now do random dialing based on listed phone number +1. You hit a random smaple of listed and unlisted numbers. We own your ass, and its unlisted number. Bwahahahaha.

    I'm in Strategic Planning, but my MBA concentration was Marketing, and we learned this trick on the first day of Market Research class.

  5. As a PM on implementation of the technology that supports this stuff (outbound dialers, etc) I try to be a voice of reason related to its use.

    I usually fail.

    Marketing is utterly uninterested in pissing off our customers. If we can outbound dial a recorded appointment reminder, then we can outbound dial anything - a sales pitch, a collection call, a survey...

    Nobody is the slightest bit interested in the 'should we do that' question, or in putting themselves in the consumer's shoes. (How effective are these calls when they're connected to you? Do you listen, scream & swear, or hang up? Does it make you want to buy, or cancel everything you have from that vendor?)

    John is right, unlisted doesn't mean crap. They feed a complete number block into their outbound dialers, 907-770-XXXX - and only connect the ones that get answered to an agent.

    I feel really bad for the telemarketers and agents, though... that kind of work is the sweatshop of the 21st century. The conditions are depressing and abusive - many work in 3x3 cubes with a headset & computer, they're required to be on the phone for 90% of their shift time, and they aren't allowed to even log off to go to the bathroom unless they have supervisor permission.

    My compassion for those in that line of work, though, doesn't mean I want to receive their calls. :P

  6. "Marketing is utterly uninterested in pissing off our customers."

    Jeri - as a professional marketer, I've obseved that Marketing usually is concerned about that, but Sales isn't, because Sales is incented on a shorter-term basis. The mosed effed up marketing campaigns come from organizations where Sales and Marketing are in a single silo - they are very different functions.

  7. I thought it was funny that because you were standing up for yourself [my editorial reasoning there] that you were going to vote for a Republican candidate.

  8. Just so you know, if you're doing research, you are *required* to random dial for recipients.

    Otherwise your results may be skewed in some manner.

    Of course your results are going to be skewed for people who have the time to answer a survey, but still...

  9. Michelle - I thought in WVA the results would be skewed because you are only surveying people who have phones. ;-)

  10. John,

    We really have to stop picking on Michelle.


  11. John (et al) - that was actually a minor editing problem that created a major content issue:

    I said: Marketing is utterly uninterested in pissing off our customers.

    I meant - and why did you not use your ESP? - Marketing is utterly uninterested in whether we piss off our customers.

  12. Well ya see John, we actually get more people, what with the party lines and all. You call one number and get a whole holler.

    And you only have to call once, cuz everyone's listening in anyway, so you just as the next person to step up and give their answers.

  13. I've been in the shop all day and just now got back in. Interesting observations all.

    My major beef with this call was three-fold

    1) If was fairly obvious that this is just some group of busy bodies, I doubt they are formally affiliated with the Democratic party - yet that is exactly how they tried to pass themselves off. It's disingenuous, if not outright fraud.

    2) Who I vote is my business (Just between us, I will probably be voting for the democratic candidate - unless Hillary or Barrack goes completely batshit insane enough in the next week to make McCain look good) But I am officially 'Non-affiliated,' I don't belong to any party. And it pisses me off to have somebody call and demand to know who, specifically, I'm going to vote for. You can ask me if I favor the demo or the repub or the indie parties, message, etc. You can ask me what I'd like to see in a candidate. You can even ask me for my vote. But don't demand to know specifically who I'll vote for, it's a form of intimidation that I don't care for, and our system is supposed to prevent it. I guess it got on my nerves because it's just one more example of how things in the US have eroded.

    3) The bitch was lying to me. Flat out. She had my name and number, obviously from voting records, which she should not have been in possession of. I understand about war-dialing, but that wouldn't give you my name, only my number. She knew my name, which just chaps my ass. Somebody is passing out personal data, data protected by the privacy act.

  14. Nah, she called me and referred to me as Jim Wright too. I think that's just the default name they choose.

    I mean, sheesh, Jim. You're so paranoid.


  15. Face it Jim,

    You're going to be one Crusty Old Man. The kids in the neighborhood will have myths about what happens to kids who try to retrieve foul balls from your lawn. :-)

    Incidentally, after years of avoiding the Crusty Old Man in my childhood neighborhood, he yelled out to the street one day, "C'mere kids." We approached cautiously. He then offered us a deal. If you mow my back yard, you can paint a baseball diamond on it. What a great old fart he turned out to be.

  16. As a former Sailor, I intend to become a Salty old man, not crusty (Crusty? Isn't that like some kind of clown or something?).

    Plus, I like it when kids hit balls into my yard, it's like free sport equipment... what? Don't tell me you give it back.

    You wouldn't have much luck painting a ball diamond in my back yard, though it would probably make a dandy suicide toboggan run. :)

  17. I've come late to this game, but here are my two cents:

    Caller ID rocks.

    If I don't know the number, I don't answer.

    Saves my blood pressure a point or two.

  18. You wouldn't have much luck painting a ball diamond in my back yard, though it would probably make a dandy suicide toboggan run. :)

    Everytime we drive somewhere with her, my grandmother inevitably says about one of the roads "this would really make a great sledding hill" which Michael and I finish with comments like, "except for all the cars" or "except or all the trees" or "except for the fact that it ends in the river"

  19. My first thought was similar to yours, "erode the laws AND CUSTOMS of our country." Because its not illegal to ask someone how they're going to vote, but secret ballot is our custom, and I think there a lot of good reasons for our custom.

    Yes, Privacy Act, personal data, illegal and immoral. But so what? Who can call them on it? Misrepresentation, blocked number, untracable. That's why it was done that way.

    You and I are just data points. These people don't care if a data point is pissed off, or if a data point calls them on their bullshit. A properly designed survey will even account for that.

    Democrat for #1.
    Democrat for #2.
    Pissed off (not part of samnple)

    They get what they want, and you and I are noise. The signal/noise ratio is good enough for their purposes.

  20. Tom, yeah, I know. The best I can do is give them grief and rant about here.

    But I will not be a party to it.


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