On average I receive something like four surveys per week via email. In most cases they are from news sources, or organizations to which I belong, including their publications, e.g. American Physical Society, Physics Today, American Astronomical Society, Mensa, Mensa Bulletin, Financial Times, etc. Other surveys are dispatched from product or services suppliers. All the surveys - well most - promise that it will "take just a few minutes of your time". Well, the last survey I took, for The Mensa Bulletin, consumed over twenty minutes. A lot of these surveys are now cheaply generated using the likes of "Survey Monkey" and for which many questions entail "ratings", e.g. on a scale of 1 to 5 (gradations for quality or level of agreement) with what's asked - and these are the most annoying and time -consuming.
The most aggravating and intrusive surveys have been those foisted upon hapless cancer patients, e.g. at urological oncology facilities - such as in each visit to UC Health. This, in the wake of the focal cryotherapy treatment last June. These are usually handed out before my scheduled appointment and include such choice offerings as:
-- Rate on the following scale the quality of any erections experienced since your last visit:
- Rate the duration of erections assuming each of the numbers given is in minutes
- Estimate the number of attempts at intercourse since your last visit and rank each according to the number scale - and duration times - shown above.
- Estimate the urological problems experienced and answer the following:
Problems with urination frequency? If so how often per week, per day?
(Do you have to relieve yourself at night? How many times on average?)
Problems with urinary retention? If so how often per week, per day?
And so on. Not yet even referencing the most humiliating aspect: Having to discuss the results afterward with the female urological assistant, oh and face a possible prostate exam and massage!
At least with these sort of intrusive medical -sexual questions I won't be answering any more - for another 10 months . That is until I get an MRI to check for residual cancer sometime next year. (I have sworn off any more biopsies, especially after the last which required general anesthesia, e.g.
The more prosaic surveys popping up every other day in my email are another matter because you can't just ignore emails, though you can choose not to partake in surveys.
I am now fully in this mode, having acquired the same level of distaste for completing surveys as Janice, who avoids any and all of them like the proverbial plague. So I've now come to agree with op-ed writer Peter Funt that:
If You Value My Opinion, Pay Me for It - WSJ
In his piece Funt trots out a set of recent survey examples, e.g. from Avis, Home Depot, Wells Fargo, Chase Cards, Petco and "The Geico Homeowners Team", each seeking responses to whatever. In the case of the last, Funt was emailed a survey saying the company's goal is "excellent service". Funt's response? "No thanks. My goal is to get paid for my work".
And he's right because it is work. As Funt complains:
"In the internet era, many companies think it's reasonable to ask for your itme and advice without offering something in return.".
Well, most of them do that because, first, any number of surveys are easy peasy to churn out using Survey Monkey. Also, they believe you will consider it in your best interest to comply because "your feedback will help us to better improve our service, etc."
Maybe, but it's still not worth twenty minutes of my time for nothing. Not when I'm in the process of completing another mathematics text, as well as trying to finish a time travel sci-fi novel.
The most ironic come-on of all is one Funt received from the RNC:
"Please take a moment to take the Official Presidential Job Performance Poll today"
As Funt puts it:
"Even the wealthiest American President in history wants free feedack."
Yeah, well, what would you expect from a lowlife, Queens real estate chiseler? A grifter who's gone through his life making money off bankruptcies (e.g. of casinos) and the backs of investors who trusted his word?
Funt does acknowledge that "some companies are less daft", e.g.
- Wells Fargo offers survey respondents a "chance" to win $1,000
- Best Buy dangles a "chance" to win one of three $5,000 Best Buy shopping sprees
- At & T promises "a shot" at "1 of 8 $100 Gift Cards"
In the immortal words of Funt: "However remote your chances, a prize at least conveys the company's thanks."
Yeppers. A baseline, minimal appreciation that at least your time might be worth "a chance" of getting some kind of compensation in return. But I'd still pass because I prefer the real thing. Money in the hand, not "a chance" for it.
Funt himself is way too modest in his demands, or perhaps more realistic than I am. His advice to companies, survey outfits is:
"My advice to feedback freeloaders: If you want my two cents, you can start by offering me at least a penny for my thoughts."
How about five bucks per survey? Assuming twenty minutes per survey, that works out to fifteen bucks an hour. For me, that'd make my time worthwhile, but nothing less.