Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Guilt as Motivator

All the way from Van Nuys, California comes this that I just got in the mail. (or "post" as our Brit friends say. Cheers!) It's a plea to fill out a survey, with the promise that they won't sell my info or try to sell me anything.

Direct Mail or Direct Response is one of the toughest sells in marketing, so these guys included a crisp $1 bill to entice me to fill out their 45 question survey all about household income, ethnicity, square footage of home, what kind of garage I'd rather have, etc. I can tell by the questions that there is either a lending institution, mortage company or home builder behind this survey. Maybe an association of all three.

Now I'm faced with, "Wow - they paid me already. I'll feel bad if I don't fill this out."

Dollar in wallet. Survey in trash. Thank you.

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  • “Dollar in wallet. Survey in trash.”

    Guilt embedded in conscience.

    By Blogger Make the logo bigger, at April 10, 2007 at 3:16 PM  

  • No, sir. Guilt tossed in trash with survey. If you're dumb enough to go throwing dollar bills into your direct mail, further driving up the costs of your piece by a WHOLE DOLLAR. then you are not going to appeal to my sense of duty. You threw away a dollar. I threw away your survey. We're even.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at April 10, 2007 at 3:32 PM  

  • Plus, direct response practitioners always say that getting people to open the letter is the biggest hurdle. So they should be happy to know they succeeded on that end. Plus, you actually read part of the letter, so that’s another major victory.

    Remember, most focus group participants receive $50 for their time. You actually saved the advertiser $49. Plus, you gave them free advertising by posting the letter. The way I see it, they owe you more money. Demand that they mail more bills pronto.

    By Blogger HighJive, at April 10, 2007 at 4:42 PM  

  • I'm thinking of investing their dollar in the Florida Lottery.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at April 10, 2007 at 4:56 PM  

  • We got a letter with a dollar once. It was addressed to the dog. My dad subscribes to the Wall Street Journal in his name

    By Blogger Maulleigh, at April 10, 2007 at 8:56 PM  

  • Do Not Mail Opt-Out Law would be fair to everyone.

    The proposed recent "Do not mail" is an Opt-Out law. Only those not desiring advertising mail need opt-out. Anyone desiring advertising mail can do nothing - and continue to receive it. Why deny those wishing to avoid advertising mail the power to do so?

    I do not consider handling unwanted advertising placed against my will on my personal property to be a civic obligation!

    The US Supreme Court said in the Rowan case in 1970, ““In today's [1970] complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail. To make the householder the exclusive and final judge of what will cross his threshold undoubtedly has the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally, he should receive and consider. Today's merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman's mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive.”

    Furthermore, the Supreme Court said, “the mailer's right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

    To hold less would tend to license a form of trespass and would make hardly more sense than to say that a radio or television viewer may not twist the dial to cut off an offensive or boring communication and thus bar its entering his home. Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit; we see no basis for according the printed word or pictures a different or more preferred status because they are sent by mail.”

    We need a nationwide “Do Not Mail” law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders the aforementioned affirmative notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.


    Ramsey A Fahel

    By Blogger rfahel, at April 11, 2007 at 5:51 AM  

  • US Postal Service won’t let you refuse mail.

    If the US Postal Service would abide by its own rule, each homeowner could easily stop junk mail from getting into their mailbox by putting a written notice on their mailbox expressing their preference.

    The US Postal Services practices are supposed to be according to the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM). The DMM contains provision 508.1.1.2 that says, “Refusal at Delivery: The addressee may refuse to accept a mailpiece when it is offered for delivery.” I interpret this rule to mean that if a homeowner wants to refuse an unwanted mailpiece (i.e. junk mail), the homeowner can do so when the mailpiece is offered for delivery. More to the point – refuse it before it is put into the mailbox!

    In practical application, since the postal carrier comes to homes at different times each day, the homeowner cannot be waiting at the mailbox to dialogue with the mail carrier about each mailpiece. The only realistic way to interpret 508.1.1.2 therefore is that the homeowner should post a notice on the mailbox telling the postal carrier about the homeowner’s preference. The notice to the postal service must be specific and unambiguous. For instance, a homeowner should certainly be able to write, “No mail that is not addressed to the Jones” because that does not require the postal carrier to make a subjective judgment. On the other hand, it would not be acceptable to write “no junk mail” because the definition of “junk mail” is subjective and the mail carrier cannot decide.

    Unfortunately, the US Postal Service has written to me that they will NOT honor a notice refusing mail, not matter how specifically it is worded, because the postal carrier does not have time to sort through the mail at my mailbox to pick out the pieces that are not addressed to me. Therefore, the US Postal Service is passing their sorting and disposing task onto me by putting all the mail they want into my mailbox, even though this seemingly violates 508.1.1.2.

    Since the U.S. Postal Service will not abide by 508.1.1.2, homeowners need to stop unwanted mail at the source (i.e. by blocking the sender from sending it). We need a nationwide “Do Not Mail” law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.



    Ramsey A Fahel

    By Blogger rfahel, at April 11, 2007 at 5:51 AM  

  • Uh...thanks, Ramsey.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at April 11, 2007 at 7:59 AM  

  • I open all DM that falls through my post box. At the end of each week I find the largest postage-paid return envelope, cram all the DM shit into it, and mail it.
    It's nice to feel that I'm contributing to the world's pain in a small way.

    By Blogger FishNChimps, at April 11, 2007 at 9:48 AM  

  • I got the exact same CS Research survey in the mail, and it came with a $2 bill.
    I did start to feel guilty about not returning the survey, but I felt weary to return the questionnaire. I am sure glad I read your comments when I googled the sender, as I can now spend my $2 dollar bill guilt-free.

    Thanks guys.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 15, 2008 at 11:01 PM  

  • I too just got the CS Research letter and a crisp one dollar bill. I goggled to see the validity of their website. I was glad to find you. I think I too share buy a lotto ticket with the dollar, thanks for the idea.


    By Anonymous Lisa, at November 9, 2008 at 12:08 AM  

  • Here's another reader who Googled to find out more about CS Research. I'll put the $1 towards my Starbucks fund...now it'll just take a few more surveys before I can buy a latte.

    By Anonymous Carrie, at November 11, 2008 at 7:26 PM  

  • I got one today, but it didn't have a crisp bill, just a well-used one. Yeah, I'll return the survey, since they paid for the envelope, but I can't guarantee it will have any useful info.

    By Blogger Jon & Ara, at February 20, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

  • I got my survey today. I'm glad I didn't just trash it and actually opened it. Crisp dollar bill in my wallet now...little lonely in there.

    I filled out the survey, then goggled CS Research. I don't feel bad that I'm not mailing it back. They should have provided more information of the company before I give them my information.

    Charlotte, NC

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 22, 2010 at 9:37 PM  

  • I, too, received a survey. I felt inclined to fill out the survey because of the $1, but decided to Google the company before returning it to make sure it was lefitimate. I came across this site and not much else about them so the survey is going in the shred bin.

    Also near Charlotte, NC

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 24, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

  • I think this is their web site: http://www.calsurvey.com/index.htm

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 1, 2010 at 12:17 AM  

  • Ahh...found what I need on their web site to make that final decision. So much for my answers not being associated w/ my name, address, or other personal info. Survey's going in the green bin.

    "When appropriate, questionnaires can be personalized with either name and address or any client supplied information. Personalized cover letters can be prepared when desired. CSRS can also add a unique identification number that can be tied back to an individual and information previously known about this respondent. In addition, CSRS has resources available to handle “matched inserting” for both large and small scale jobs."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 1, 2010 at 12:26 AM  

  • I just got one today, and I'm definitely not sending it back. Hell, even if it is legit, they would have to pay me more than a buck to take the time to fill it out! But I already get enough junk mail and spam to just be handing over my info like that. This bill is so crisp, I'm not so sure its not fake.....but I'm gonna spend it any way.

    -Zebulon, NC

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 2, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

  • Mine was also a super wrinkled $1 bill. Guess their operations have gotten cheaper over the year. Blame the economy I suppose.

    Thanks to one of the Anonymous comments, I'm not gonna send mine back too. Sounds like my privacy won't be entirely, well, private.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 22, 2010 at 12:54 PM  

  • I just got this survey today and Googled to find out who the heck CS Research is. After reading the other comments, I'm definitely not sending it back!

    By Blogger Crimson Wife, at March 22, 2010 at 6:31 PM  

  • Well, I got my survey, and I'm going to send it back. From the CS Research website, I can't tell who the client is- could be a lender, could be a homebuilder, could be a university. Either way, they already know my address and that I just bought a house, and they don't want my phone number or e-mail address.

    Maybe as a result of this survey, some homebuilder, somewhere, someday, will actually build a home I would want to buy- because I sure don't like the way new homes are designed today. Maybe not. In the meantime, what are they gonna do, harass me with paper letters?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 25, 2010 at 11:36 PM  

  • Awesome info. I did not know if this was legit...now I know.

    By Anonymous Park Brees, at March 29, 2010 at 3:43 PM  

  • My question is who is the client and why do they want this information about "housing and neighborhood preferences?"

    I take it as a given that they are lying about their stated purpose, and I feel no compunction to cooperate.

    I applaud everyone who didn't send in their survey and did whatever they wanted with their buck (I gave mine to a homeless guy).

    Not returning the survey increases the sampling error, a critical part of the survey report, and makes the information less usable to the client (whoever they are and whatever their nefarious purpose is). That is, unless CS Research fudges those figures--but I'll leave their methodology to them.

    I also encourage everyone who is not sending back their survey to send back the envelope, either empty or with 13 ounces of other (unidentifiable) junk mail that you want to recycle.

    Think of it as making a contribution to the hard working men and women of the United States Postal Service, which is required to be self supporting. Every time you return junk mail in a pre-paid envelope, you’re supporting a great institution.

    But for those of you who really resent this kind of snooping and presumptuousness, I urge another course of action:

    Lie. I actually sent mine back in, but I lied about every question. There is an MMPI aspect to their questionnaire, in that they ask the same or similar question in several different ways to insure that you are being consistent, but I think I caught all of them.

    I've taken the time and trouble to post this comment not so much to preach to the choir of the majority of commenter’s who didn't send their survey back, but to make sure that the people who are shelling out the big bucks for this information know that at least some of us are intentionally lying in order make surveys like this meaningless.

    My lies have skewed the results, even if ever so slightly, so relying on those lies may this particular client to make bad financial decisions anticipating a market that isn't really there. Can you afford to make that kind of mistake? Is it really worth hiring CS Research when you know ther is an active campaign to encourage people to lie?

    Why would I do such a thing, and encourage others to do the same? Because surveys have become just another tool for manipulation and control. From push polls that purport to ask questions but are designed to influence public opinion by asking leading and inaccurate questions, to innocuous polls like this, which may be used to justify some sort public policy change that you have no clue about, until your answers become the basis for why you wanted that new development built next to you.

    The problem is, sampling does work, if it is done properly. If, however, enough people start intentionally lying, as I did, and the surveyors and their clients have to factor this in as well, the surveys become more and more meaningless.

    On really hot topic wedge issues in the culture wars, they will have to develop an algorithm, or methodology, to find the people on both sides of a contentious issue who are both lying, and therefore cancelling each other out.

    Anyway, to hell with surveys like this. To hell with SC Research, and to hell with their clients. If they want my real opinion, they can tell me why they really want the information and pay me more than a buck.

    And I still wouldn't give them the time of day.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 5, 2010 at 4:44 AM  

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