panel of experts.

18 06 2010

consumer panel you might have noticed that i’ve been a little more MIA this week than usual. i’m actually kind of surprised that i didn’t get any emails saying “hey, your lame father’s day post has been up for 3 days- what gives!”. well, i’ll tell you what gives.  for the last 3 days, i’ve been languishing in the excessively tight clutches of an online consumer panel.

when the company (sorry, it’s a secret!) contacted me via email 8 months ago, i thought that a consumer panel would make an interesting topic for a blog post and was excited at the possibility of getting some sweet free product samples…. TIME PASSES…. then about 6 months ago, they called me mere seconds before i was about to go into the nickelodeon for a movie and proceeded to take way too long to ask me a series of repetitive questions, at which time i became severely agitated and was very impatient/not nice to the interview lady (my bad!)….MORE TIME PASSES…. and as winter fades into spring, i’m assuming that my chronic CSR rudeness condition (CCRC) has driven away the opportunity forever….YET EVEN MORE TIME PASSES…. it is now exactly 2 weeks until official summer, and i have completely forgotten about the panel and am going about my merry business when *WHAM* an email from the company hits, telling me that my online panel discussion group will begin in 2 days. oh, and they’re going to give me $50 for my troubles. amazing!

according to instructions, i am to log onto a dedicated BBS (that’s bulletin board service for those of you who didn’t have web access in the early 90s) and answer a series of questions posted by the moderator, and then log on again once more during the day to answer follow up questions.  seemed simple enough until i logged  onto the site and was reminded exactly why the BBS has gone the way of the dinosaur. what in the clunky archaic hell were they thinking when they hired someone to design this focus group site? they also asked me to get all myspace and fill out a profile with all my favorite movies, books, and tv shows. you could also look through the other profiles for the rest of the focus group (there appeared to be 18 of us),  under the “friends” tab, and as it turned out only me and one other chump actually bothered to do it. this would be one of many indicators that i was putting in way more effort than this survey deserved.

day one. unfortunately it arrived at midnight, as the testing facility was on pacific time, drastically cutting my window for when i could take care or business. i dutifully logged on during my lunch break and started to sift through the questions. the site was set up so that you couldn’t see anyone else’s answers until you had answered first. i felt compelled to earn my $50, and tried hard to be thoughtful with my replies. too bad nobody else did! two word answers at best. they almost seemed angry- like how dare this survey demand more than checking boxes or rating things one to five! and then of course the moderator had to drag additional information out of everyone for the sake of the study, which involved even more follow up questions that i felt again compelled to answer carefully.

day two. i had passed out on the couch around 2 am before finishing up the questions from day 1, so i again had to sacrifice my lunch break to wrap it all up. i barely made it onto the day two questions at all before i had to get back to work and then had a 3 hour dance class/rehearsal immediately afterward.  my exhausted ass got home around 10, at which time i found a nasty note from the moderator telling me that i needed to answer the day two questions- or else (ok, it didn’t actually say “or else”, but it was heavily implied). i logged in and started banging away, still foolishly attempting to give quality information. again, i fell asleep on the couch at 2 am. i tried getting up up early in the morning to finish, but the program had kicked me out. i assumed that i had been booted for not finishing the day 2 questions before midnight. i wrote a frantic note to the moderator.

day three. my privileges (mercifully?) reinstated, i had PROMISED the moderator that i had time in my schedule to finish both day two and day three of the survey. i lied a little, and it was also taking several hours to get through all the repetitive bullshit. “on a scale of 1-5, does this statement make you feel more or less like gouging out your own eyes? please explain using as many descriptive words as possible.” the follow up questions were in many ways worse, and began to make me wonder if the moderator was not in fact the pleasant looking office girl in the photo, but possibly a robot or someone in an outsource factory in  new delhi  or something. definitely an ESL feel with questions like “tell me more about this myspace is too sparkly?” i again collapsed on the couch around midnight, only to wake up frantically around 3, hoping that i had not again been shut out. i deliriously pounded out my last few answers and dragged my carcass up to bed. sweet release.

i really thought that $50 would be  fair compensation for 3 days of online question answering/interaction. most especially for a brand and a product that i really enjoyed using. unfortunately, my sad tale proves that not to be the case. hassle, tedium, lost sleep, anger, wasted days not posting to my blog… like godzilla attacking the city, somehow this monster ate 3 days of my life and left the city in ruins behind it. i suppose it made for a good story, but that $50 better be wrapped around a gold brick or a fruit basket or something.  it just pains me to confirm how little big companies value their consumers. our opinions are far more valuable than we are ever compensated for (hey, at least i didn’t do it for coupons!). is it time to unionize? time to daft some fair compensation for survey takers legislation? time to mobilize the masses? fuck that. it’s time to take a nap. wake me up when my $50 gets here.

Q: why doesn’t this blog have an f.a.q.?

1 06 2010

A: actually, i’m working on it. right now.

here’s a secret for you- during this summer/fall, i’ll be working on transforming this site from a free wordpress blog to my very own domain. actually, i already bought it- but right now there’s just a crappy place holder page that both looks stupid and doesn’t make any sense. hopefully, with the miracle of modern technology (and my friends over at ibec creative), things will slide over all sorts of seamlessly- with a few minor upgrades that will make your life better- or at least probably not any worse. i hope that one of those upgrades will be the addition of an FAQ, but i haven’t figured out yet if there are enough unanswered questions about me and my pet blog to devote a whole section to answering them. that’s when  you arrive to clear up the confusion. if i were going to install an FAQ, what would you ask? or, do you think it’s a terrible idea?

here’s a starter question we can all try on for size:

Q: i find your use of all lowercase letters to be infuriating. are you some sort of crazy uneducated idiot? do you think you’re channeling e.e. cummings you pretentious prick? why do you torment me so?!

A: wow, those are some harsh words. why do you have to be so mean about it? actually, i have a college education (with a few extra courses on the side for emphasis), and have been capitalizing appropriately/successfully for many years. i even do so every day at my day job without complaint. i do enjoy e.e. cummings’ work very much, but my insistence on lowercase doesn’t have anything to do with him or his fantastic poetry. actually, kind of cranky reader, i do it because i have OCD (that’s obsessive compulsive disorder for those of you who missed the MTV true life– i have OCD). i am fortunate enough that my affliction is not so severe that i have to be medicated (although i have been medicated at various points), or prevents me from doing the things that i love to do, but it does creep into my life in funny ways sometimes that make me seem a little off/out there. i won’t eat a sandwich unless it’s cut diagonally (i will actually throw it away and get another one, or possibly cry, or more possibly both). i will throw away anything that i am hand writing if i make a mistake- rather than make a cross out (including post-its and informal notes to self). i am also obsessed with symmetry. i can’t even begin to calculate how much of my life i spend lining things up to make them parallel, or nudging them to make sure that they are square with the edges of the table. and that folks, is where the all lowercase happens. proper upper/lower writing is lopsided, and i find it visually displeasing. i can do it when i have to (work), but when it’s my turf (blog), i can do whatever the hell i please. i do find all uppercase writing to also be acceptable (my handwriting is all uppercase), but on the internet, people just think you’re yelling at them (thanks KANYE). thus, all lowercase it is! fun fact: my iphone auto-corrects all my improper lowercase letters, and i actually take the time to go back and undo the correction so that my symmetry is preserved. anyone know a hack for that?

so there it is… one question down. more to come? or TMI?