I hate surveys.

Whenever someone calls our house and asks if we have time to do a “short” survey, I always say, “No.  No, I don’t have the time.”  The one time I agreed to do a ‘short’ survey I was on the phone with them for 30 minutes or more.  It was about chocolate bars and there were no coupons forthcoming after the survey.

Dixie, on the other hand, loves doing these kinds of things.  She’s inclined to say, “Yes! Yes, I would love to do participate in your survey!”  Which is why we are now receiving monthly phone calls from Statistics Canada.  I thought she was supposed to be doing all of this–so did she–but tonight the Stats Can guy told her he needed to ask me a ‘couple’ of questions.

Let me pause here to reflect: maybe if telephone surveyors didn’t whitewash the procedure and simply tell the truth–“Do you have 30 minutes for a survey?”–the people doing them wouldn’t be such hated individuals (even though we don’t know who they are.  I’m sure they’re very nice.) Granted, they wouldn’t get many people to participate, but we’d all be getting along.

So the guy tells Dixie he needs to ask me a couple of questions.  She hands me the phone and he launches into a speed-talk grilling of inane details. And I was on the phone with him for 20 minutes. Couple of questions indeed.

What I can’t figure out is what in the world Stats Canada could possibly do with the information they received from me.

“Did you make any trips away from home that ended in August 2010?”


“In Canada, in the U.S or elsewhere?”


“What is the name of the country?”


“Did you boat or attend a powwow on this trip?”


“How much did you spend on…? Did you…?”

“Yes…No…Yes…No…. No…. Depends on how you define ‘trip’…. No…. I don’t know….$900….  $5.  No, my wife says it was more like $50. ….10 days. No, wait–11 days. That’s because we counted days of travel, not nights. 5 days with friends…. Yes, we went to the beach, but we didn’t go to the beach to do beach things.  We were just near a beach…. No….  Pretty much all historical and arts. …..No. ….Yes.  About this much. ….If that sounds weird it’s because we worked for half the year and went to school for the other half…..Shopping and religious…. All of them…. No…. No…. Afternoons…. Except Tuesdays and Wednesdays….No…. Is that Thanksgiving week?…  No…. Prior….  Yes….No.”

Seriously.  What manner of graph will come out of this interview’s results?

Surveys drive me nuts, especially if there is no immediate and tangible result (such as a score or rating or evaluation) for me.

4 thoughts on “I hate surveys.

  1. Linea

    I hate even more the surveys which will not disclose who they are doing the survey for. I figure they at least owe me the dignity of knowing why and what I am answering them for. So mostly I try to politely say good-bye quickly.

  2. Scott

    I love doing surveys! I once did one for the insurance institute – I am pretty sure they told me who it was for at the beginning – and months later I heard the CBC reporting on the results!
    Marc – not all data has instantly tangible results. It might be combined with other data and questions before being released to the public. And if you check out Stats Canada’s website, it might have info on why they collect certain data>

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