Sydney Avey

Dynamic Women — Changing Times

Dollars and Distractions

Jul 17, 2018 | Book Reviews, Culture | 2 comments

the distraction of dollars

Made you look!

Last month after I wrote a blog about distractions I picked up a book, Disruptive Witness: Speaking truth in a distracted age, by Alan Noble. I love a book that triggers ideas for actions I can take to support a deeply-held belief. (Read my GoodReads review here.) How timely, then, that as I’ve been contemplating the damaging influence of consumerism in our society and on our souls a FedEx envelope from The American Institute of Consumer Studies (AICS) should arrive.

I dislike the term “consumer.” It makes me feel like a voracious bug chewing indiscriminately through the material world. However, the communication wasn’t addressed to me, it was intended for my mother. The letter announced a large-scale national study to better understand consumer attitudes and preferences. The objective is to improve (unspecified) products and services.  A crisp, twenty-dollar bill accompanied the letter with the promise of more to come should a member of my mother’s household be selected to participate.

An interviewer will “try to contact” my mother to set up an interview, or mom can call and schedule her appointment. She will have to do that from the grave.

Did they do their research?

How could a research company not know that my mother died several years ago?  It’s easy to check. I suppose they figure somebody must be at this address who might consent to be interviewed. The twenty-dollar bill is an incentive. They have kindly supplied me with the name of the interviewer and an 800 or a local phone number to call for verification. But given that I don’t want my phone number added to their database, I’m not likely to make that call.

It will be interesting to see if the interviewer is able to contact me. She has my address, but I live in a gated community. It’s a slog to get here. She could do her research. County records would reveal our names and could supply her with the mother-daughter connection. From there it’s probably not difficult to find my phone number. So perhaps she’ll call. In that case, I will kindly state my anti-survey, anti-consumer bias.

So many consumer surveys seek my time and attention for free. This one is different. They are offering two more twenties. If the interviewer figures out how to reach me, and if she still wants to interview me after I state (kindly) my dislike of the very term “consumer,” for forty dollars I will give her an hour of my time. Meanwhile, in good faith, I donated the twenty to my church’s care fund.



  1. Donna Janke

    I don’t like consumer surveys either. It will be interesting to see if you get contacted further or not.

    • yosemitesyd

      So far there has been no contact. Easiest $20 I never earned!


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