Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What Would You Do?

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A couple of years ago we got a phone call from Nielsen Media Research, the company that does the TV ratings. They asked us if we would record our television viewing for one week and they would pay us a small fee for our efforts. In a moment of weakness I said that I would participate, so they sent us the television viewing log and $5.

We don't watch television, usually, except when my husband is home in the evenings, so I thought it would be pretty simple. Pretty simple, that is unless your husband is a channel-change-a-holic and you are obsessive about honesty.

My husband flips channels faster than a... person who changes channels very frequently, and that television viewing log had more eraser marks than... oh, fiddlesticks, it had a lot of eraser marks, okay?

Anyway, I decided that I didn't like marking down and erasing channels and times and television programs every day for a solid week when I had other things to do with my time. Things like feeding hungry children and providing clean underwear for them to wear.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from the same company asking me to do the same thing. I politely told the representative that I did not wish to participate this time, but thankyouverymuch for considering us. Well, this lady must have received her phone training from Never Take No For An Answer University because she kept explaining the procedure like I had, you know, never said, "No".

I interrupted her very persuasive speech and explained to her that I have SEVEN! children that I homeschool and I just do not have time to be recording trivial things like television viewing and besides, we hardly ever watch any television anyway. If you have ever dealt with a telemarketer, you know that she acted like she didn't even hear my answer, but she just kept right on talking like I had agreed to participate! I finally ended up hanging up on her and consoled myself with the fact that I had TRIED to decline politely.

A couple of days later, we got another call. This time my husband was home and when he heard me struggling to decline politely again, he motioned for the phone. He can be quite a bit more, ahem....convincing than I can and not nearly as concerned with southern charm and gentility (mercy me, I'm coming down with a case of the vapors just thinking about it) so he told the lady in a VERY clear and concise manner that we would NOT be participating and we would appreciate not being solicited again.


That was the end of that. Right?

Wrong! We got a fat envelope in the mail with what I assumed was a television viewing log inside. I almost threw it right in the trash unopened, but, and I still don't know why I did this, I opened it.

I was right. It did have the viewing log inside, plus 5 one dollar bills. In cash! Who sends cash through the mail these days?

I decided I would put everything right back in the pre-paid envelope and send it right back immediately. Only, there was no envelope to put the cash in. Just the fat viewing log with a tab to seal it shut.

So, here I am with $5 and a viewing log that I had said I did not want! I can't just keep the $5 and not fill out and return the log. I can't return the $5 without using my own envelope and stamp. I can't just write any old thing in the log. I definitely feel manipulated.

What would you do?


Heather said...

You are in a sticky wicket, as my son would say! I'm sorry that you were so badly mistreated, however, I once read that every log that is turned in counts for 20000 families! You have an opportunity to change the future of t.v. content - hopefully for the better! Maybe your husband can do the recording when he is doing the flipping! Perhaps MaddieLynn could earn the $5 by doing the recording for the rest of the family? I would most definitely include a letter of complaint about your telemarketing experience - and ask to be removed from their calling/mailing list! I'm sure you will do the right thing!

Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks said...

Heather, I'm just not sure America is ready for more re-runs of The Rifleman, and John Wayne shoot-em-up westerns, and all manner of fishing shows

Anonymous said...

I would write "REFUSED" or "RETURN TO SENDER" on the envelope and take it back to the post office. Then call and complain! Nicely, of course. :)


Nikki said...

ugh. That reminds me of The Center for Disease Control that continued to harrass me. I don't know what to do. I'll ask Danny and get back to ya. He knows stuff.

DakRat said...

Option 1: Don't watch TV for a week, keep the $5 and return the little-effort required log at the appropriate time in the prepaid envelope.

Option 2: I like the idea of paying $5 to one of your kids for having them do the work.

Option 3: Send the log back now along with $2 in cash in a separate envelope. Include a business style memorandum/letter indicating that you have returned the materials which were inappropriately mailed to you (as you had clearly declined the offer to participate), less a $3 shipping and handling fee.

Option 4: Thank them for their kind gift and remind them that you do have a legal recourse if they continue to contact you by phone, mail, email etc. as their actions would be considered harassment since you have explicitly told them not to contact you. And harassment, being illegal, is punishable by law. They will likely agree with you that your television viewing record is not worth legal issues.

Anonymous said...


You told them no repeatedly as did your hubby. It was their choice to send you the $5.00.
I don't think you are wrong in accepting it but you should write them a gracious thank you note for the unsolicited gift! Maybe you can make a chairitable contribution to one of the organizations that try to promote better TV veiwing.
Am I not mistaken that if something is sent to you by way of the US Postal Service not by your request you are not obligated to return it? Or maybe you just need to report it to the Postmaster and he can take care of it.


Liz said...

I vote for not watching TV for the week, who needs it anyway! Then return the log marked Not Applicable as we are verb people who prefer to do and not watch! Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

The only problem with filling it out, in any form, that I can see is that they got you to do it. What's stopping them from doing it again ?
I would return the package entirely, or like a previous commenter said, less $3.00 for shipping and handling.


Sheila said...

I'm with Jerri.

Jenn said...

i had the same thing happen with a radio station list solicitor. i told her i only listened to the radio in the car on my HOME from work (when i worked at night i would put on the most obnoxious radio station that was all talk talk and talk and it was most of the time inappropriate and STUPID, yes i said STUPID - that's how i stayed awake in the car on the drive home) anyway. they too, sent it ANYWAY!!! with the five ONE DOLLAR BILLS! i wrote 7:15 am to 7:40 am kiss 106.1 every morning that i worked the next week and sent it back. that's it! kept the five bucks and never looked back. they just really like sending out the money without the agreement of work in return. they must get paid per $5 sent, don't you think?

i like the idea of the kids recording it and keeping the money.

Kim said...

If it were me, I'd just donate the money somewhere and be done with it. I hate these sticky situations! Bleh! Loved your Can't Take No For An Answer University comment! Too funny!

Michelle said...

The Nielsen people called me the other day concerning movies. They were shocked and saddened by the fact that I hadn't gone to the theater more than 4 times last year.

They were even sadder when they talked to my 16yo son and found that he hadn't seen enough movies at the theater either.

I think we are now anathema to them.

I'm glad.

I'd send the log back with nothing but The Rifleman and fishing shows listed.

That'll teach'em.

Anonymous said...

ROFL! The man of your house sounds so much like my dad! He is ALWAYS flipping through channels and he also can get telemarketers to hang up better than anybody else in our family!

As for the TV brouhaha (did I spell that right?), I'm sorry, but I have no clue how to resolve it politely. My teenage mind can't wrap itself around the concept of getting free cash in the mail that you already said you didn't want.

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