Ask the person who calls people--telephone surveys

For a little over two months, I have been employed by a company that does telephone surveys. At the moment, we mainly do political surveys, but we also do market research and general polling. For example, on a couple of days, I was on a survey that asked new mothers about various aspects of the formula vs. breast-feeding issue.

I know that a lot of people are tired of the whole political thing. Sometimes it isn’t much better being on the other side of things. Most people are reasonably polite, but I’ve spoken to several people (polite or otherwise) who make it clear that they’re tired of being called. And of course my company is far from the only one calling people.

A lot of folks have a lot of misconceptions about telephone surveys in general. The biggest is the Do Not Call list. There’s an awful lot of people who have no idea of what the DNC list actually does. They think it applies to all unwanted calls, when in reality, it applies to only a relatively small subset of unwanted calls. I’ve had people threaten to report us (I always wonder just who they would report us to–the FBI? their state Attorney General?) even though legitimate surveys are explicitly exempted from the DNC list.

Another issue, somewhat related, is the people who think that they can get us to quit calling them simply by saying something like “Quit calling” or “Stop calling me.” That’s not how it works. My company (and apparently most such companies) is VERY persistent. We do maintain our own internal Do Not Call list, but the only way to get on it is to specifically request it. Saying anything other than “Take me off your list” or something equally explicit will simply result in you getting called back.

I’ve occasionally had people ask me “What do I have to do to get you to stop calling?” I usually say something along the lines of “Well, we’re trying very hard to get this survey completed.” It’s not considered good form to come right out and say, “If you had taken our survey the first time we called, we wouldn’t be bothering you now.”

My main pet peeve about this job is that some people simply don’t listen. A lot of our surveys have a section where we ask people to rate various people and organizations on a scale from 0 to 100. The script makes it very clear what the choices are and what the numbers mean. And yet, once I read the first name on the list, probably an eighth or so of the people have no idea what they’re supposed to say. They’ll say something like “I like him” or “I’m planning to vote for him.”

A secondary pet peeve is the people who declare up-front that they’re voting a straight party-line ticket. I don’t care how you’re planning to vote–I still have to read each question separately for President, Senate, etc. A lot of people seem to understand that, but a few people get really upset that I keep asking them about various offices when they’ve already said “Republican all the way” or something similar.

Then there’s the occasional person who insists on interrogating me before telling me that the person on my list isn’t available.
“My name is X. May I please speak to Y?”
“Who is this?” (or, alternately, “What is this about?”)
“I’m calling for [company]. Is Y available?”
“What do you want with him?”
“We’re doing a survey.”
“What about?”
“Issues facing residents in your community.” *
“He’s not here right now.”
“Ok, we’ll call back later.”
*Note–my precise wording varies somewhat, based partly on the specific script. A lot of times, I simply read or re-read (or re-re-read) from the script when I get questions like that.

On some surveys, we are allowed to talk ONLY to the person on the list; on other surveys, if that person isn’t available, we can talk to any resident who’s registered to vote. The restrictions sometimes slightly upset married people–I’ve spoken to people who feel that they can answer on behalf of their spouse. For a lot of things, I’m sure that it works quite well, but the survey rules are very specific. On the other hand, we have a few surveys where we don’t even ask for a name–anybody 18 or older will do.

We have some surveys that are restricted to landlines, and some that are restricted to cell phones. Most surveys (of either type) are restricted to residents of a specific state or city, but a few are nationwide.

So if you have any questions, fire away.

When there is a death in the family and the persons answering the phone are grieving do you continue to call?

If you called me a telephone survey I’d feel a bit dehumanized :slight_smile:

This is MPSIMS so I can’t say half the things I want to say to you. And the other half, well, actually, I can’t say any of the things I want to say to you.

Persistance in that “we” did not use the right wording to tell surveyors to stop calling is a pretty dickish thing to do. After all it is impossible to understand it any way other than to do what ever it takes to stop calling us. Why does anyone want to call people back that have no interest in being called? Because it is a company rule? Any company that acts like this is extremly lame and slightly retarded.

Is the money awsome?

Here is my question - what is the secret wording that will get companies like yours to stop calling? Is all we have to say is “Please take me off your list.”? Are there other iterations of this that we should know and keep by the phone?

Also, does your company keep track of “live” phone numbers? One way we avoid picking up the phone is due to caller ID. But if I pick up the phone to tell you not to call here, do you capture that somewhere? I presume phone lists are sold and resold amonst these companies, so a phone number identified with people who actually pick up would be useful, yes? Or would it be better to never pick of the phone with an unknown number?

And, please do not take this the wrong way, your job is an annoyance to just about everyone, so do not be surprized when people are not happy to hear you and are not following the script.

Which makes you as bad as telemarketers selling stuff. Why should people know a particular magic spell to get taken off your list?! “Stop calling me.” IS a request to be taken off your list.

I personally will take the number off the list in such a case, and I believe that most other people will as well.

I’m very sorry, sir–I’ll call you a taxicab right away.

Based on personal experience and a small amount of cursory research, it seems that most survey companies act the same way. Not interested in doing the survey? Too bad–do it anyway or be bugged until that particular project ends.

This particular company starts you out at $8/hour. Considering the type of work, it’s my opinion that anything above minimum wage is relatively awesome.

Your last point first–
I personally consider this type of job to be several rungs up from telemarketing (which is something that I would be extremely reluctant to do). All in all, I’m satisfied with my job. Plus, I’ve never been one to really care what other people think. So your comment doesn’t bother me at all.

As far as “secret wording” goes–regardless of the type of company, either “Take me off your list” or “Put me on your Do Not Call list” will usually work. Some companies simply have a list of people to call, and if you’re not on the list, you won’t get called. Other companies have an internal Do Not Call list, and they call everybody who’s not on it.

We “grunts” are given very little information about how the company gets the numbers that we call. For a few surveys, we’re actually told that it’s random dialing. For some surveys, I’m fairly certain that we simply get lists of registered voters. But for the most part, we’re not directly told where the numbers come from.

At my company, at least, it doesn’t matter whether you answer or not. We’ll simply keep calling until the project ends. We have the ability to see how many times we’ve called a particular number, and I’ve seen cases where the answering machine has picked up 5 or 6 times.

:dubious: Does the act of completing the survey result in “establishing a business relationship” with the company requesting the data? Because people might be getting you off their backs only to royally fuck themselves over by ensuring that Whatever Company can ignore the DNC and call them all the time.

And since I work in medical research, I have to know - what do you do with the data if someone tells you that they’ve been lying in the survey? :smiley:

And how is redialing the same number again and again NOT harassment?

Echoing Ferret Herder’s final question (well, building on it): Can I get credit for completing the survey even if I answer every question with (0 out of 100/“I have no opinion”/whatever-name-is-first-on-the-list-you’re-reading-from), and then you stop calling?

I wish I had a landline so I could get a call from a sleazy survey company like this. I’d agree to answer the questions on a scale from 1-100 and give answers like “purple” until they hung up in frustration.

I believe Flyer is in Colorado. Colorado’s harassment law says that “repeated communications at inconvenient hours that invade the privacy of another and interfere in the use and enjoyment of another’s home or private residence or other private property” are harassment.

If I’ve told you not to call me, doesn’t that mean I’ve defined all hours as inconvenient? And if you’re calling my phone, then by definition I don’t have full use or enjoyment of it at that time. (I have doubts that a court would see it that way, unfortunately.)

Ha! I love you Rachellelogram :slight_smile:

I worked in marketing, so I’m generally okay with being called for a survey – really! However, most of the “surveys” I get called for aren’t really surveys. The question, “Does the statement ‘Candidate X voted for billions of dollars in wasteful government spending’ make you more or less likely to vote for Candidate X’?” is not really intended to elicit my honest opinion.

Another thing, when I ask you “how long will this take” I would like an honest answer like “we have 10 questions” or “our goal is to complete the survey in four minutes.”

And finally, I am 60 years old and I know damn well the only businesses who are interested in my opinion are selling either Medicare gap insurance policies or cemetary plots. How about if you ask all the demographic questions first and terminate the survey as soon as I fall into the wrong category?

If you have a legitimate, brief survey and it’s convenient for me to talk (hint, NOT between 5 and 7 pm), I’ll not only participate, I’ll give you honest answers. But you have to meet me halfway here.

Does anyone else see the irony in the OP complaining that people are telling him things that he doesn’t pay attention to, and in the next breath, he complains that people don’t listen?

Lynn, are we allowed to be this mean in MPSIMS?

(but yes, it’s hilarious and one of the reasons I was seething when I finished reading the OP)

Just go to google and search for: telemarketer

and you will find more threads on the subject than I feel like cut-and-pasting here – None of them all-too-sympathetic towards the telemarketers.

There was one particularly famous thread over in the Pit (where ALL threads about telemarketers, by natural law, belong). (Yes, that generally includes phone surveyors too.) Anybody know which one I’m talking about, with a link to it?

Quote from OP:

Right there is one good reason your company, and all similar companies, and all their employees, should be nuked into vaporized sub-nuclear plasma. If you don’t get the love from your marks on the first call, whyfore you think you’ll get the love if you keep harassing us? (Yes, I know that you, yourself, are just a chained telephone monkey. The question really goes to your script puppeteers.) If we ask you to not call, using any intelligibly recognizable phraseology, then quit the fuck calling us. You won’t get that survey answered if you try again.

AND, does your company transmit a Caller-ID? And is it a true Caller-ID? Like, so I can report you to the FTC if I think that might help? The vast majority of phone callers (including collection agencies too) don’t.

Too bad. Your marks never agreed to follow your script. Same with that complaint about the person who answers asking you a lot of questions before agreeing to answer any, and then not answering any. Your marks never agreed to follow your script. Same with all your other complaints about your marks not playing along with your script. Next time, try mailing us a copy of your script well ahead of time so we can be as well rehearsed as you are.

Did I read this right? Do my eyes deceive me? Did you mean to say that your company calls cell phones? Isn’t there, um, some rule about doing that?

Quote from one of OP’s later responses:

Very fortunate for you. You gotta be thick-skinned to work at a job like this, with all the crap you inevitably get from your marks AND from your monkey-master bosses. Not to mention all the crap you’ll get from a message board too.

You gotta understand – On the one hand, we should be more respectful here because, after all, you DID start with a “Ask the . . .” OP, so we should have a polite Q&A session here. But, given the job you are in, and given the damn persistence of phone spammers (you admitted it yourself in your OP) and how damn illegally MOST of your company’s ilk conceal their identities, it should come as no surprise that we let fly with all our pent-up hatred here.

I sure hope so, after the post I just submitted! :mad:

I’m trusting it is okay, as long as we don’t use certain verbotten words that are only permitted in the Pit (or not even there), and as long as we confine our fire and brimstone attacks to the OP’s line of work and don’t attack him personally.

Anyway, he says he doesn’t care what anybody thinks.