When poll comes to shove


    Warning! Beware of strangers.

    When we tell our children not to talk to strangers, we do so because we are concerned for the safety and well-being of our loved ones. We feel they may be too young or impressionable to recognize danger.

    I’m concerned for the safety and well-being of Malibu, so to all residents I say, beware of the strangers you talk to. Know who they really are and don’t assume they speak the truth, for you could become the unwilling victim of a Push Poll.

    Yes, I spoke to a stranger, against my husband’s advice, and I was push polled. It happened last Sunday afternoon in the privacy of my kitchen, while I was making Indian food for guests that evening. The curry was simmering and the telephone rang. A man stated he was conducting a survey on issues important to Malibu, it would only take six minutes and my opinion and views were very valuable and important. I said, “OK, six minutes. But first, who are you again and who hired you to do this survey?” He responded with his name and stated he was from Opinion Data Inc. He did not know who paid for the survey but after I completed the survey he could have his supervisor speak with me. I agreed and the questions began.

    It occurred to me after the 10th or 12th question, something was not right, yet I foolishly continued. About the 20th question, I was positive, something was wrong. This man did not want my opinion at all. He wanted to give me his opinion along with erroneous facts and hypotheticals. He was cleverly making inaccurate statements and erroneous assumptions and would then ask “knowing this, how would that impact your vote in the upcoming Malibu election?”

    I finally put a stop to the deceptive survey and insisted on speaking to a supervisor. For the next 10 minutes, I spoke to three different people who gave inconsistent information, about the organization involved, the sponsor, locations, names and phone numbers. They even hung up on me. When I called back, I was assured a supervisor would call me with the information requested, within one hour. No one ever called back. I was tricked and lied to. It happens — when you talk to strangers.

    I subsequently contacted the California Public Utilities Commission, Consumer Affairs Division who advised me anyone who can obtain your telephone number can call you and say anything, it doesn’t have to be truthful, so long as it is not obscene or threatening.

    I was a lucky one. I recognized the lies and deception before I voted. I only hope other Malibu voters recognize the dangers of believing not only strangers, but unsolicited video tapes, CDs and other media designed to mislead, scare and push votes. Know the issues, learn the facts. Your vote counts, make a difference. Don’t get pushed around.

    Mary S. Jones