I had a rather upsetting conversation with (what was) one of my favorite consumer and marketing research providers yesterday.
I called Simmons (an Experian product), simply curious how much it would cost to gain access to their research. I’m considering purchasing some consumer data, because I like being smart and I like writing about smart things. I’m also working on a few independent ventures, and believe even the smallest “shop” needs to pony up some cash for research if they need it. (Does anyone have a pony I can sell for research?)
After finding my contact was void (what? in this economy?), I was routed and rerouted and put on hold. Finally, I was put through to a “woman” (the quotes are me being nice) who could tell me how much it costs. I would tell you, except I still don’t know. Also, please don’t think I’m being nice to her by omitting her name; she never told it to me. I would have asked, but she was so short, I thought there might be a gnarly bear standing in her office, waiting with claws out. I did, however, leave out the costs she quoted me in respect of her obvious fear. (The below is paraphrased; it all happened so fast!)
“First,” she informed me, “you have to pay for an Experian membership.”
For a minute, I thought I had another wrong person, “Experian membership? For Simmons research?”
With a big sigh, she replied, “Simmons is a part of Experian, mam, so yes. Then, you have to pay for the commercial building inspection. Then..”
Now I was really confused, “Wait. Commercial what?”
“Commercial building inspection. We have to come and inspect your building for security purposes.”
“I don’t have a building. I own a house and I work in my pajamas.”
“You work out of your home?”
As soon as she realized that I was at home, her shortness diminished to brashness. At one point, I thought she was going to just hang up, but I still wanted to know how much it cost. I pleaded that to get a commercial building, I would have to write a business proposal and include how much my resources were going to cost as a part of that. She explained that I had to be already established, and in a commercial building, before she could even talk to me.
I apologized for keeping her on the phone and let her go before the bear attacked. I hope she got out okay, but I was left standing in my kitchen, wondering wtf had even just happened. Did I really just have such an outdated conversation, with what’s supposed to be a forward thinking research company? They’re going to tell me how consumers are thinking, acting, and spending, while they don’t even support an independent, work-from-home, entrepreneurial workforce, like the one that’s exploding right now due to the recession?
Really, Experian/Simmons? Are you even paying attention at all?
I might not have gotten my question answered on how much it costs to pay for their research, but I guess it doesn’t matter since I don’t want a commercial building. It did, however, explain why they’re not on twitter, either.