Few things annoy me more than overreaction. Unfortunately, humanity in general seems really good at doing just that. Everything from politics to social issues to telemarketers.

On that note, not everyone who calls that you don’t know personally is trying to either get your money or scam you. For instance, I work at a survey center.

I’d like to take this time to dispel a few myths about my occupation, so maybe anyone reading this will be a bit better educated and make my life a bit easier.

Myth #1
A person who says they are calling to conduct a survey really works for a corporation and wants to either get your money or scam you.

I really do work at a university-sponsored center, and I really don’t want your money. If you give me two minutes of your time, I can prove it. I think that’s a waste of my time and yours, but if you’re really that worried, I can certainly oblige you. They give me that information for the express purpose of putting you at ease. So don’t hang up on me without letting me explain first.

Myth #2
We know everything about you.

I have no idea what your name is. Actually, I don’t even know your phone number. The computer randomly dials numbers in the system, and how those numbers enter the system varies depending on the study being conducted. When I say your answers are completely confidential, that’s what I mean. Once I close out your survey as complete, I don’t have access to it, and it isn’t tied to your name or your phone number in any way.

Myth #3
If you are on the Do Not Call list, we can’t call you.

That doesn’t apply to academic research, which is all we’re doing. And no, I cannot “make it apply.” Even if you tell me as rudely as you can (and many people have done so) that you don’t want me calling again, I’m still going to call you at least one more time. I have to; it’s policy.

Myth #4
If you don’t pick up, we’ll stop calling.

We will call you repeatedly until you either do what we want or the time frame for the study ends. Now, that doesn’t mean we’ll call you multiple times a day. Annoying you won’t help our situation. If you think we called already, you were probably talking to a telemarketer. We aren’t the same people, I promise. Really, it’s in your best interest to do the ten minute survey. Once you do it, we’ll never call you again, but if you keep letting the phone go to voicemail, we’ll keep calling.

Myth #5
When you refuse to do the survey, we’ll stop calling.

As much as I wish this were so, we can’t. As mentioned above, it’s policy to call at least once more (and usually only once more, thankfully) because you may not be the person we need to talk to in your house, and you may not be the person who picks up the phone next time.

Basically, make your life and mine easier, answer your phone and do the survey.

Side note: To the elderly ladies and gentlemen who talk to me for 30 minutes longer than necessary, I adore you, especially when you tell me I have a pleasant voice. Thank you for being amazing.


Editorial note 10.29.11: The company mentioned above is a not-for-profit, tax exempt organization. The information applies only to organizations of this type.