Monday, July 14, 2008

WTF Nielsen Ratings?

About a month ago we got a card from Nielsen Ratings saying that they were going to call us for a survey. We didn't have to do anything. They were going to call us.

And Jesus H. did they. About 3 times a day. From 8 A.M. to 9 P.M. Our phone is a newer one with the robotic voice announcing the call if you're in the other room, or even if you're in the same room. So instead of "Nielsen Ratings," we always hear "Call ... from... Nielsen Rattings." They seem slithery like rats, always calling. Annoyingly so. So much that I didn't want to answer the phone.

Finally, Jess, who's a sweetheart, picks up the phone, and if something drives her to drink, usually it's me being an asshole. So here's how the conversation goes:

"Hi this is [ ] from Nielsen Ratings..."
"Uh, yeah, we're on the do not call list."
"I'm sorry, but that doesn't apply to us. We're a research company. We're not trying to sell you anything."
"Well, still, you've been calling for weeks at all hours. We didn't ask you to call, and we don't want to participate in anything."

And the usual end to a phone call. I was surprised by Jess being a badass. I'm always surprised when she gets that way. It takes a lot to drive her to it.

So today, a few weeks after the phone call, we get this thing from Nielsen Ratings in the mail.

We open it up, and:

"There is money enclosed with this letter. This is to ask you to please fill out a TV Viewing Diary for just one week. Your name and Diary information will be kept secret. No one will ever try to sell you anything because you returned your TV Diary."

In it there are also five crisp one-dollar bills. I wondered if they were real. But they're in my money-clip.

The thing is: say I watch 20 hours of television week (I don't). Instead of watching for pleasure, I'm technically working for those 20 hours, which means I would've gotten paid a bare-bones twenty-five cents an hour. To write down what stupid television programs I'm watching.

I maybe watch five hours of television a week, and that's pushing it. Movies are, of course, another story. But still, that's a dollar an hour. What kind of chump am I? A crisp twenty or fifty-dollar bill? That may be different. But five ones? Am I in sixth grade?

Has anyone done this? Gotten cash? Done the diary? Is there more money? If not, then this shit ain't worth my time. And they don't even ask. They figure they were being extremely generous for their magnanimously altruistic donation. They tell. They assume.

I just find something very weird about all this. I'm no conspiracy theorist. But what the hell?