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As inboxes fill with requests to appraise holiday purchases and trips, it's prime time for feedback fatigue.
With emailed appeals for comments on commonplace transactions and customer-service calls that beget requests to take a survey, consumers are being pinged for opinions at a rate that has gotten some publicly grousing about a surfeit of surveys.One such lament spawned dozens of responses on a frequent fliers forum last year. Some Gmail users complained about recurring bids to react to a change in the email service's look this fall, prompting owner Google to curtail the requests. Comedian Bill Maher dinged the feedback frenzy in a video for The Huffington Post in 2010, telling a nameless company, "I was actually pretty happy with your customer service, up to the point where you asked me to take a survey about your customer service." Surely, it's nice to be courted for input, at least sometimes. But some consumers say they're fed up with giving time-consuming feedback for free, don't like being drawn into a data web used to evaluate employees or feel companies don't act on the advice they get. Others say they simply don't have anything revelatory to impart about, say, ordering a shirt or buying a package of pens. "I resent the assumption that I'm interested in helping this company beyond making a purchase. Giving them your money is enough," says Travis Van, 34. He blogged about the issue in June on the website of ITDatabase, a San Francisco-based service he founded for technology companies seeking media contacts. While market-research polls have been conducted for decades, customer-satisfaction surveys have proliferated in recent years because of technology, a growing emphasis on getting data to shape decisions and measure results, and a drive to hold onto customers in a difficult economy, experts say.
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