Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oxygentax - 1, Statistics Canada - 0

So I get home from the office this evening, drop my groceries in the kitchen, and find an envelope sticking out of the side of the front door (not the bottom). I open the door to remove the envelope (because far be it for me to risk damaging my weather stripping by yanking the envelope through).

On it is a note from a Statistics Canada representative (who shall remain nameless, after all why should she be outed for doing her job?) telling me that she's sorry she missed me, and instructing me in a not so nice formal manner to contact her for an interview regarding the Household Spending survey that she is doing. There is no indication that the survey is voluntary.

So after reading the paper, I did what I normally do when the government doesn't say please - I go into civil disobedience mode and decide to ignore the note until it's followed up.

Not 15 minutes later, I get a ring of the doorbell, and I get to face the woman who wanted to invade my privacy without any reward for the information I give up. The exchange lasted all of about a minute and she had as much luck as a telemarketer would.

Don't get me wrong, she attempted to be persuasive, and I will give her points for making a second attempt to get my acquiescence after the first failed miserably, but in the end, what it came down to was two simple parts of the exchange:

1. "Is this mandatory?" "No, this is a voluntary survey." "Then thank you, but I would prefer not to take part.", and

2. "But just think of all the people that you would help by answering these questions." "Thank you, but I would really prefer not to take part in the survey."

She left without saying thank you. I was polite enough to turn the porch light on in order for her to see her way back down the walk.

See, I know that she was trained not to take the first "no" for an answer, but she really should have understood from my apprehensive first question that her second attack wasn't going to be successful. Sure, I could have wasted her time for 5 minutes letting her be the surrogate for all those groups she is purporting to help by collecting private information from me to help. She could have stood in for all those people who think that it's all right to force me to answer a survey under penalty of punishment to help them better take my money and distribute it to others who are deemed through that information to be more needy or worthy than I am. I could have done those things, but I politely sent her away, hopefully giving the impression that I wasn't happy with Statistics Canada right now.

Hopefully more people have the opportunity to do this - it would be nice to make Stats Canada work for their data for a change.

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