Monday, November 03, 2008

Pollsters, Pit Bulls and Pizza

I'm a mom trying to raise four kids to be courteous, caring adults so I figure that I ought to at least practice what I preach and be polite--even under duress. But there are those times when you get pushed to the brink of sanity you know?

Tell me that I'm not the only one ready to pass a moratorium on political pollsters? It used to be that I'd get a call or two asking who I was likely to vote for but now . . . NOW they all start out months ahead of V-day with "I'd like to ask you a couple questions, it will only take a moment . . . " and then they proceed to ask seventy or eighty questions that take so long to answer that by the time I finish the polls are closed and the election's been called.

Maybe I'm odd but "a couple" means two. TWO. As in, "Have a COUPLE cookies" or "They are a COUPLE" or "It costs a COUPLE of bucks." This translates into: "Are you registered to vote?" followed by "Who are you most likely to vote for?"

Not "Given the incumbent candidate's views on abortion, the environment, NAFTA, the price of oil, domestic violence, apartheid, Volkswagen bugs, mullets, Paris Hilton and bologna are you definitely unlikely, really unlikely, somewhat unlikely, unlikely, kind of likely, pretty likely, mostly likely or completely likely to support their opponent in the upcoming election?"

"Uh, can you repeat the question?"

The thing is I'm too darn nice to get uppity with them and object. I should just refuse to take the poll from the very beginning but I'm held back by the guilt I feel at the possibility that maybe if I refuse to take a poll I'm jeopardizing the entire political process and shaking the foundations of freedom and democracy all over the world. That and I can't ever bring myself to hang up on a person.

But this last call did it and I've decided that I'm never again going to take a poll. Never--and you've got that in writing. If you want my opinion, submit it by email or better yet, visit my blog (I'm always giving out an opinion there).

You see they're getting sneakier because they're not just trying to find out my opinion they're trying to influence my opinion and I'm onto them like lipstick on a hockey mom. Or is that lipstick on a pit bull? I get them mixed up. I mean, I may not have a rock-solid political platform here but darn it, it's mine and I'm not so stupid that I can't see where all those leading questions are taking me.

"Given candidate X's recent vote on bill 476 which will promote strip mining as well as minors stripping can you in good conscience still support her opponent?"

"What if, in the course of the campaign, it were proved that candidate Y were a child-loving bibliophile? Would that change your vote?"

And my personal favorite, "Have any of these questions changed your opinion?"

The last poll I took like this started out innocuously enough but after five minutes of questions that were repetitive, partisan and leading I finally got gutsy enough to ask "You said it was only a couple of questions, how much longer will this take?" I was assured we were at the end but the questions continued and continued until I finally got irritated enough to interrupt (yes, I actually interrupted!) and say, "I'm sorry but I don't have any more time. Thank you for calling."

I told Grace that in the future any pollsters would be directed to her. They can talk with her--probably the only person in the world who has more stamina with a phone receiver in her hand and could outlast them in a phone call-to-phone call smack down. She'd never get tired of talking in a million years.

But the ultimate? The absolute limit? A couple weeks ago the kids had received coupons for personal pizzas from Pizza Hut at school and had been begging me to take them to Pizza Hut so they could cash them in. We called ahead for take-out, they picked up the pizzas, went home and ate them. End of story. Completely non-interesting. Except that . . .

A couple days later (a couple meaning TWO) I got a call from a person asking if I would be willing to answer a couple of questions about my experience ordering from Pizza Hut.

Suspicious but once again, not wanting to be rude I said, "Okay? . . . ."

Now maybe I'm weird but somehow knowing that I could go and pick up some pizzas, make my way to the safety and security of my home and then have them track me down to hound me about the purchase didn't sit well. It's not like I want to order pizzas under an alias or anything but where's the privacy people?? I just want my pizzas, let me eat them in peace.

She proceeded to question me about whether I physically went into the restaurant to pick up said pizzas, what toppings I had on my pizzas, whether I chewed them on the right side or left side of my mouth, whether I used unleaded or diesel, whether I'm a natural blond and whether I'd ever considered adopting a badger before finally asking "How likely are you to order pizza from Pizza Hut again in the future?"

I'd had enough. As if being hounded by political pollsters trying to get me to vote for their guy wasn't enough, as if pre-recorded messages from our local school board reps cutting into family activities weren't enough, as if being interrupted at dinner every other night to see if I would sponsor blind children to go to the movies weren't the limit, NOW Pizza Hut is tracking me down to grill me about my choice of pizza toppings?? I just wanted some pizza, dang it! Is that so wrong?

I took a breath and said something to the effect of, "Well you know, I've always thought Pizza Hut was pretty good--I've eaten there lots of time and had plans to come back as often as my cravings called but if I'm going to walk in, pick up a pizza, then be phoned by Pizza Hut later and hassled with lots of questions about the whole thing I don't think I'll be going back ever again. The relationship is over--I'm through. I prefer a silent, one-night's stand pizza experience."

"Oh."

So don't even try calling me again Pizza Hut because on Tuesday? I'm voting for Little Caesar's.

  • unlikely
  • somewhat unlikely
  • likely
  • very likely
  • no opinion

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Technorati tags: polling, telemarketers,

54 comments:

Sam said...

ha ha very funny!! I guess that if there is ONE benefit to being deaf, it's not getting calls like that!! Pizza Hut Pollsters indeed!!!

mamabeck said...

...also a benefit to living in a country not-your-own...the language barrier. I can say "Sprechen sie English?" and then more-than-likely avoid the poll altogether (and sales calls, too!) ~giggle~

Love it, Michele! Thank you for the laugh!

One Mom said...

I'm with you! If there is a delay between my "hello" and the anticipated response, I hang up before they can get started. That unnatural delay means that you've been called on an automatic dialer. Only when you've answered does a real live person intercept the call.

And if they use my name but cannot pronounce it correctly I just say, "Sorry, she's not at home!"

Edi said...

I'm tired of just getting pre-recorded "Go vote" type calls and even finding them on my answering machine.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the smile first thing this AM. I haven't gotten any poll calls this year. Must have to do with not having a land line. What is wearing on me though are the ads. Where we live we get to see the ads for three states, KY, OH and WV (lucky us!) I keep confusing who is running in each state. I can just see me going to the polls trying to vote for the KY senator.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Too funny! And how funny are your poll results!? Now I want some pizza... thanks.

Steph

Chris said...

That's why I love Call Display. If I don't know the number, I don't pick it up.

I would have been very insulted by the thinly veiled campaign call. That's really sneaky. And the Pizza Hut call would have put me off Pizza Hut as well.

Yes, I'm cranky that way.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I'm wondering why you are getting all those calls from political pollsters. I live in a swing state and I have gotten absolutely none. Zero. Nada. You might want to figure out what sort of list you're on and get off it!

But since I'm registered as an independent, I'm getting lots of calls from the Republicans. The Democrats send lots of e-mails. I feel very popular.

Marie N. said...

I our house we've decided we will not answer any polster questions if they cannot tell us who/which organization they represent. DH got into a rather heated (for the situation) with a polster who called our home after 8 pm. The called would not say who she was working for. DH told her he would not answer because he would not know which way his words would be twisted.

The Source said...

Ha ha ha! This post was excellent. I hand all political calls to my eleven year old twins who will talk to anyone and manage to lead the conversation around to THEIR interests before the caller hangs up on them.

patty w said...

Oh..you are speaking right to my heart, girlfriend! LOL

Geez...my phone rings constantly and it's mostly polls! I'll ask who is paying for this call..Republicans?..ok, I'll vote Democrat... Democrats paying...I'll vote Republican, just because you called me AGAIN for the 472thousandth time!

I got one late on a Sunday evening and it was the same drivel..have I made up my mind...NO...and after this call , it sure won't be "xyz" and he's like...Oh..let's compromise, I'll put you on the refuse list and you wont' get any more calls!

YEAH RIGHT! hasn't stopped a bit!

karen said...

VOIP phoneline! It's better than a regular unpublished number because your phone, effectively, doesn't exist. We've had VOIP service for four years and have not had a single telemarketer or survey pollster call in.

Shoebox Princess said...

I'm being bombarded by pre-recorded phone calls from several campaigns that all talk trash about their opponent. It's bad enough that I have to put up with zipping through insulting political ads with my DVR remote, but this is ridiculous! They are trying to bring those TV ads to me through phone calls! After a few such calls, I don't answer the out of state phone numbers that I don't recognize or blocked numbers of any kind.

As for pizza calls, I would only allow them to talk to me if they were going to give me more free pizza. I can be bought.

ShabbyInTheCity said...

LOL on the poll you added :)

Mrs C said...

The poll at the end is a nice touch.

Har

Anonymous said...

Being in Alabama, I can be shameless and act like an ignorant hick.
Pollster: Will you be voting for candidate X?
Me: I dunno, will he allow me to have lotsa guns and marry my cousin? Will they be givin any free chawin' tobaccy to us vetruns? ...uh hang on they is sumbody at the door.....(lay done the phone and walk away for a few minutes)
Pollster hangs up unless

cndymkr / jean said...

Oh lordy. That was great and so true. I normally love answering polls and surveys but this year has been a killer. I don't have 20 minutes to answer a "few" questions, at dinner time no less. I can't wait for Wednesday to get here at least the phone calls will stop.

Discursivelyhappy said...

This is funny. My hubby's job has something to do with customer service in the medical field so when I get a phone call asking how my dr's apt went and a few other ?'s I feel a tremendous amount of guilt not answering them (especailly when hubby said, "you really need to answer the ?'s so I can make sure...") so I hear you, I don't like the survey's either but sometimes we have to do them, but Pizza Hut? That one seems a little unnecessary! Although my last experience eating out was not a good one and I wish someone would have called me so I could have told them I prefer my food cooked and not microwaved! I could have done that at home!

Munchkins and Music said...

Mmmmm, pizza...you crack me up!

Heather of the EO said...

This was so funny. I've hung up on the poll people a COUPLE of times...when they wouldn't take no for an answer. Ugh...

Janet said...

I laughed like a loon when I got to the poll!!! (Of course I voted very likely.)
I stopped answering the phone a couple of weeks ago. It's not so much the polls as the recorded messages telling me what's so wrong with everybody else (as opposed to what is good about the candidate they're actually supporting).
When we voted for governor last year I got one of those poll calls, and the guy who was calling couldn't pronounce the name of the lieutenant governor candidate, who is a personal friend of ours. I said, "You know, it might be better if you practiced this a few times before you actually made any phone calls." I talked to him though. I was cleaning the kitchen and both kids were miraculously asleep at the same time. He was very nice and obviously an undereducated young person who was just trying to get by. But he didn't get me to change my vote. :)
I learned a long time ago that if anyone asks for the Mountain Man by his first name, I just say he's not here, because that means it's someone who doesn't actually know him.

Janelle said...

I loved this post Michelle! You are too funny. Being in Ohio, I have had so many people knocking on my door in the past month. Surprisingly (knock on wood) I haven't had one single phone call. The weird thing it that all the people coming to my door have been from the Obama campaign. Not one person from the McCain campaign. You would think that McCain would be a little more proactive in highly democratic Cuyahoga County. But no. The last time someone knocked on the door looking for me, she first confirmed that I'm a registered voter, then blatantly asked "Who will you be voting for?" (Even though I'm voting for Obama), I told her I wasn't comfortable sharing that information with a complete stranger knocking on my door. She got a very uppity look and said "Okaaaaay," and walked away, very put out. It was kind-of funny.

As for telephone polls, I take them. My husband is a statistician, so he convinces me of the importance of accurate data collection. It's like I might betray his confidence if I refused to take a poll.

chelle said...

ha ha ha
the poll at the end made it!

Angela Fehr said...

No poll calls here - thank goodness I live in Canada! That said, I feel personally targeted as an SAHM by those unsolicited callers. Why do they always call during naptime? I've made it a policy that I WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES participate in an unsolicited call. I don't care what they want. If it's something I do want to opt into, I can call them back. But usually it's pretty easy to respond, "I'm sorry, I have made it a policy not to participate in unsolicited phone calls. Please take me off your list and don't call again."

Jennifer said...

I have been kind of sad this year because no one is calling to ask our political opinion. I thought for sure, being registered with neither of the major parties, that they would be extremely interested in my political views. Oh well. I guess that's why I blog. :)

Doll Clothes Gal said...

Very funny - gtreat post. Everyone needs to remember to get out and vote tomorrow.

Killlashandra said...

I avoid telephone polls. Sometimes I think getting rid of LAN line really worked to our advantage in this respect. I find them very intrusive and then once you do one you make it on to some mystical list and more will call you. It's a to true and funny post. :)

Flea said...

I love your poll at the end. :)

For some reason I haven't been getting the phone polls. I like that. Maybe it's because I tell them no, I don't have time and won't take their darn polls.

Laura Moffitt said...

This is ridiculous! At one point in my life I was on the other side of that phone call and it was miserable!! To try and 'disguise' what the questions were about they would be random such as a political question followed by (no joke) "Have you ever owned a gold fish? If so what type of tank do you use?" And on one of them if the caller was a female we had to ask "Have you ever lied about your weight on your drivers license?" Luckily for me I never got a woman but my friend sure did. That question never went over well, wonder why?

Miche said...

LOL!!! Oh my goodness, I'm crying! That was too funny! And my husband and I have reached the point of not caring who wins tomorrow so long as the numerous phone calls STOP. Oh. My. Goodness.

Pencil Writer said...

I'm one of the few who voted on YOUR poll: "no opinion." Out of respect to you.

I can empathize totally! I have begun to issue a disclaimer whenever I do agree to participate in a poll. My disclaimer goes something like this: You agree that you understand that my participation in your poll means I will ask questions when your questions make no sense. I will ask for other options when your offered options don't hit anywhere near the mark of my sincere opinion. I will defer comment whenever it pleases me during the polling conversation. If you agree to my terms, begin asking your (contrived) (dare I say, dumb) questions. ;-}

Thank you for your delightful post. I identify with you so closely. I chuckled outloud several times and contrary to the vote I posted on YOUR poll, I'll continue to visit your blog daily. Thanks for you opinion(s).

Lisa said...

We have a huge burden in CA with the Prop 8 - protect marriage on the ballot. I have been asked a few times to make these calls and I just can't bring myself to do it. I do not answer the political calls and I do not take polls or want to discuss my political opinion with anyone. When they asked you if taking the poll had changed your mind, had it? I doubt it. I can't wait for it to be over!

Kellie Buckner said...

I totally agree! They drive me crazy too. I had to work for a telemarketing place once, but I worked in the editing department. I didn't make the calls. I refused to make the calls and bother people. I just cleaned up grammar, poor spelling, and such.

dooleysinpng said...

I was getting ready for work and heard my husband laughing loudly in the living room for a significant amount of time. He was reading this blog! Thanks for the humor today. Sorry for your inconvenience.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Oh hon, I am right there with you! I've gotten so many of these stupid things, from the important to the mundane, and they all have 80 gajillion questions, and promise that there will be only a few, and that we're 'almost done'. One time, I said, "I'm running out of time and patience here, I'm going to hang up", and I was told, "oh, no, if you hang up we can't use ANY of your answers!" Um. So?

I heard that those leading questions were how they poisoned the McCain campaign in 2000 in South Carolina. "If you learned that John McCain had an illegitimate black child, how would this effect your likelihood to vote for him?" They can be quite nasty indeed.

Outnumbered2to1 said...

This was a classic post! I loved it because I can so relate. That is why, when polled, I say my favorite household appliance is caller id. In fact, it came in handy today as every hour we had a new political call.

Gabrielle said...

YOU are hysterical! :-)

Headless Mom said...

Gah! I'm soooo with you!

Less than 24 hours until the madness stops!

dianne - bunny trails said...

That's hysterical! Okay, it probably wasn't when you were participating in all the annoying polls, but your response to Pizza Hut?!?! I LOVE it!! Nice job!

Alice Wills Gold said...

I used to be one of those annoying ones on the other line.

Now, I am the first to say no thanks.

But I think my husband has guilt feelings for never being forced into telemarketing in college...he always complies...to my great chagrin!!!

Ah...get off the phone already.

Alice Wills Gold said...

And, I hate any and all "voting" calls...got about 5 today.

I did however make those calls for Mitt Romney...a lot of good that did.

P.S. You may have luck with fewer calls if you move out of such a hot state like Alaska....blame it on GOv Palin...can't wait to vote for her tomorrow.

Nicole said...

OK! Can I just tell you how funny it is that, after reading an anti-poll post, people have actually taken your poll!!! I, BTW, did not take it. But I couldn't help checking the results to see if anyone had. HY-sterical!

Tracy said...

someone once compared the phone calls to a stranger at the door. You wouldn't open your front door and just invite a stranger into your house, so why invite a stranger into your house via the phone?

That totally changed my outlook and freed me from the guilt that kept me on the phone. Now I very happily just hang up.

The Pizza Hut thing - that's just creepy!!! LOL!

ChefDruck said...

What an excellent post! I actually had one call me the other night and I decided to put her on hold while I helped Bella with her homework. If she wanted my time, she had to play by my rules. And you know what, she never stopped being pleasant.

M said...

Okay, on the pizza thing...one time I got a call that started out as if it were going to be a poll. But no, they were calling to tell me that there had been a salmonella outbreak the night we had ordered a pizza!

Duke, Kathryn, & Seamus said...

I laughed so hard when I read this post! I hate survey calls! Sometimes I take them when I'm feeling very opinionated, but that's not too often.

When someone calls my Mom she asks them if they will pay her for her time(ie. if she made $60 per hour she would ask for $1 per minute). They always say no so she tells them that it's not worth her time and hangs up. When someone calls asking for money she tells them that she "really wants to help but her welfare check hasn't come yet."

I can't get over the fact that pizza hut is stalking you for info on your pizza orders.

kkryno said...

Nice post! I told a pollster we could save some time; He could mark every Y/N question with a "yes" and every multiple choice with the first answer. When he balked, explaining that those answers would skew the poll if they even managed to pass the validation screener, I 'woohooed' and hung up. I sometimes like to answer each question with a lengthy wandering presentation, exploring both sides of the query without offering any hint of a definite decision. Pollsters catch on pretty quick, and never complete the poll. I can't help but feel for those dependent on phone sales or polls for a living, but I'm so against the idea of someone's assumed right to intrude into my home and time. As for the creepy Pizza Hut feedback call, They not only have the right to call, (even if you are on a no-call list) but can market your contact information!

Lisa Milton said...

I politely said yes to a pollster once and I thought it would never end. I folded laundry. I did dishes. My hubby went to the store and back and was shocked I was still answering questions.

I just say no now or hide from the voter alert calls.

Patois said...

As a former market research person, allow me to apologize for the industry as a whole.

Shalee said...

I got over being courteous a long time ago. When I get those calls (and you know how much I LOVE being on the phone!), I tell them thank you, but I don't want to answer any questions. When they keep talking, I hang up. I have no remorse considering I did tell them no.

I'm pretty sure I would have asked Pizza Hut whether or not they violated my privacy by using the information collected for purposes not approved by me. However, I love your answer... Good to not leave them in the dark!

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

funny!!
But I have to say . . . we receive those free coupons from Pizza Hut as well (reading program at school) AND I am not too sure we will use them now!!!!!!

Alison said...

Hilarious! Maybe you should consider getting on the no-call list? What would be the fun in that though?

All Rileyed Up said...

Hilarious! A silent one night stand pizza experience. I love it!

Roo said...

A friend of mine just suggested that we petition for a new US Constitutional Amendment - make it illegal to start political campaigning more that 90 days before any election.

I for one would go for it!!!!