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"LW Research"? I think I just got conned

Discussion in 'Gen III 2010+ Prius Main Forum' started by PriusRos, Oct 10, 2009.

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  1. PriusRos

    PriusRos A Fairly Senior Member

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    I received a voice message from "LW Research" telling me that they are not selling anything but just do research for the auto industry and that, as a Prius owner, I have been invited to participate in a user discussion during the week of October 20 in Alexandria, VA. I would be paid $220 to attend the discussion.

    So, I thought it sounded interesting and called back. She basically told me the same thing again, and said that the meetings would be at 8pm on October 20 or 21, and they would let me know. If I was interested, I would be be asked some screening questions. Again, I said okay. She then proceeded to ask me a whole slew of questions, ranging from my age, education, and income level, to why I bought the car, and whether I am involved in any environmental activities, etc., etc. At one point, I asked how much longer it was going to take, and she said it's almost over -- which is was. But I had been on the phone for 30 or 40 minutes by that time. When it was over, she told me that they are going to call me back and let me know whether they would be able to fit me in to one of the discussions. She then went on to say that each group will consist of 10 or 12 people, and that the discussion isn't limited to the Prius, but will include other types of cars!

    By this time, I was beginning to catch on. "Wait a minute," I said..."If I don't get to go to one of the discussions, I don't get the $220 or whatever it is..." and she said right. And I say, "You've already gotten what you want from me...you've taken a full survey masqueraded as a "screening", and now you're telling me that the "group discussion" is just for 10 or 12 people?? If somebody calls me back and tells me I "didn't get in" I'm going to be really angry!

    Oh well...it's not a big deal. I didn't give them any critical information...just answered standard survey type questions... but I'm really pissed that that I allowed myself to let them talk me into doing something (i.e., spend time answering a survey) that I might not have been willing to do if they had asked me straight out whether I'm willing to take a survey.

    Edit:
    I was wondering whether anybody else has received a similar call and what came of it? I'm also wondering what to say if they call me back. If they say I "got in", I'm not sure whether to accept. On the one hand, I'm kind of curious; on the other, it sounds like a waste of time, since it's not even just for Prius owners. If they tell me there was no room to accommodate me, which is what I'm expecting, I'm going to be pretty annoyed. I must be one of hundreds whom they invited, but the two meetings are only for 10-12 people? To me that's deceptive.
  2. PriusRos

    PriusRos A Fairly Senior Member

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    I should add that she told me the group discussion would be about what we liked/didn't like about the our car and it's paid for by the auto manufacturer in order to make improvements in the future.
  3. kgall

    kgall Active Member

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    It's possible that you got conned, but it's also possible that you didn't.
    The questions that you were asked seem to be the questions that a focus-group organizer would want to know--they really want a cross-section of their target audience, which is different from a random sample.
    Based on what you said, you weren't asked any "phishing" type questions that would make you the victim of a scam.
  4. Rae Vynn

    Rae Vynn Watch out, I have a degree in BS!

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    I've been on one of those panels (not for cars - for grocery stores), and while the 'screening' didn't take that long, it was a few minutes, and I did get picked, and I was paid for my time ($75, I think it was).

    It always seems a little hinky, until they actually DO send you the official invite to the actual panel discussion. Good luck! :)
  5. Maineiac

    Maineiac Monkey Wrencher

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    Hey, take a deep breath. As long as you didn't give them any more than your name, rank and service number, you can't be shot for treason...
  6. PriusRos

    PriusRos A Fairly Senior Member

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    Yes, I didn't feel that they asked me for any information that they could use to cheat me out of anything, which is why I continued to answer the questions. However, what irritated me was that I felt they basically got their survey questions answered under false pretenses -- they didn't just come and ask me if I would mind answering questions for a survey. They called them "screening" questions after having told me that I was invited to participate in the user meetings. And then, after keeping me on the phone all that time, they tell me that they'll let me know whether there would be room for me. I had assumed, erroneously, that we're talking about a large number of people and of course they wouldn't know up front exactly how many people would accept the invitation. But when they said it would be one of two meetings with just 10 or 12 people -- how likely is it that there would be "room" for me? I had also assumed that it was for Prius owners, since they told me that is why they called me and were asking me things about enviironment, but found out that it wasn't just limited to a discussion about the the Prius.

    I did Google them and it seems to be a legit business.
  7. PriusRos

    PriusRos A Fairly Senior Member

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    Thanks. They DID call me back and sent me an invitation to their "important research discussion".

    I have to do a pre-meeting assignment too! Meaning, homework!

    The invitation says No CELL PHONES, CAMERAS, or PALM PILOTS allowed. Palm Pilots??? I guess it's all right if I take my Blackberry and iPod. :cool:
  8. Rae Vynn

    Rae Vynn Watch out, I have a degree in BS!

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    Great! I had a lot of fun at mine, when I did it.

    Hope you enjoy yourself :)
  9. sshaw10

    sshaw10 Member

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    I used to do a lot of these panels. I'm not sure about the company you're dealing with, google them? but there are a bunch that do pay good money to come in and share ideas about all kinds of things, advertising, products you might buy, why you bought somehting, what would you pick between a couple things. I always enjoyed them. I did a couple on new musical instruments, one on ads for a tech company, etc. They usually do a pretty extensive screening becuase whoever hired them usually is looking for somethign specific. The good thing is, if you get in with one or two of the companies, show up, have good input they will usually hire you multiple times. It's the best I've ever made for the time spent. And they have always paid me cash!
  10. PriusRos

    PriusRos A Fairly Senior Member

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    I wasn't conned...just rejected!



    Well, I spent a few hours doing my pre-meeting homework (a Powerpoint "Web Page" -- they said to find pictures in magazines, on the Web, etc. and GLUE them to the pages -- but, not having any glue, I had to resort to pasting them electronically ;)). The day before, somebody called to confirm my attendance, and asked me whether I had looked at the Honda Insight. I told him I had seen one and read about it, but hadn't test driven it or anything because I hadn't really considered buying anything else except the Prius.

    I ended up being one of the last people to arrive even though I was in the area 45 minutes earlier because first, I had to find somewhere to eat and when I found a place it took forever to get the appetizer I ordered at the bar. Then, when I got to the place, the front door was locked and ringing the doorbell didn't seem to produce any results. I wasn't sure I was at the right entrance, but I finally got let in.

    When I arrived, they first asked me for my homework assignment, then I had to fill out yet another questionnaire. There was a room with a couple of tables where a bunch of people were gathered, some filling out their questionnaire, and others talking about their cars. After handing in my form, I was asked to wait again. A few minutes later, a guy comes back and tells us that they wanted to ensure that there were enough people in the focus group so they overbooked and would be sending three people home, although they would be paid.

    Guess who was one of the three? I was quite disappointed because I really wanted to find out what it was all about but I did get to talk to the two others who had also been turned down and met their 2010s. One had a silver IV with solar, and the other had a black V, which I hadn't had a chance to see up close before then.

    My speculation is that the client was Honda and they were only interested in talking to Prius owners who had actually considered the Insight. And that the only reason they had called me back in the first place was because I had made such a stink about answering all those questions over the phone.:eek:hwell: Oh well. I did make $225 but I feel I earned it after all the time I spent on the phone, doing the homework, driving to the place, and then filling out another questionnaire!
  11. dhs

    dhs New Member

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    Re: I wasn't conned...just rejected!

    I also got called back, but the date was one which I was too busy, and could not go. In the pre-screening, they did seem to focus on people that looked at the Insight and bought the Prius. I told them (truthfully) that I started out looking at a TDI, but decided to consider an Insight and Prius for due diligence. However, I realized that the back seat of the Insight was too small for me.

    Prius is fine.
  12. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    I received a postcard from this company, called in, got a return call for screening, and was selected for a two-hour panel. It was well worth doing.

    The screening questions may seem like they are drawing out all the information over the phone. But my panel seemed to be targeting a fairly specific, narrow group of customers, so the screening was necessary to find members of that group.

    Too bad you were excused because the panel was full. Compensation may have been slightly better had you been able to stay. Either that, or my small group (a crash-related traffic jam caused some of my panel to arrive slightly late, and may have prevented others from arriving at all) caused them to cut the pie into fewer, larger pieces.
  13. PriusRos

    PriusRos A Fairly Senior Member

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    Re: Not conned...just rejected..



    What was the panel you participated in about?

    I might be wrong but I don't think they ever intended to include me and only invited me because I had made such a fuss on the phone about being conned into answering all their survey questions.

    Instead of telling me upfront that they would be asking me some questions to make sure I fit the demographic they needed, they made it sound like I was already invited and that they just needed to ask a couple of screening questions. I thought it would be to verify that I do actually own and drive a 2010 Prius, that sort of screening. They did ask me whether I had looked at any other cars (I don't remember whether they asked me about the Honda Insight specifically) but that was just one of numerous questions ranging from age, education, income level, etc. to my environmental interests and what I like best about the car. After I had finished answering all their questions, they told me I would be given a call to let me know whether there would be room for me in the first or second session. Then they told me that the sessions are for 10-12 people and there may not be room in either. I was sure they had called a lot of people and there was little likelihood that I would be invited, so that's when I started to suspect that this was just a way of getting people to answer a survey without telling them it's survey.

    Everybody received the same amount -- $225.
  14. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Re: Not conned...just rejected..



    I don't want to say too much, so as not to bias readers who are potential participants who may get called in the future. But there was no NDA.

    For my particular panel, it was why we purchased our Priuses over other car models -- what we liked and disliked, what tipped the choice, how we would rank the Prius and a handful of other specific models on certain scales. How do we use our cars. What other cars are in our households. Whether or not we would be interested in certain future choices. How much price differential we would expect for certain differences in features, and vice versa. Before meeting, we had some homework as described in another post.

    There were multiple panels that day. Because the research was trying to collect many points of view, the other panels may have been selected to different criteria than my group.
  15. dhernandez5622

    dhernandez5622 New Member

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    You didn't get conned. I actually used to work for LW Research. We ask the screening questions because the client wants certain sets of people. Obviously, if they want to market to young people we're not going to ask old folks to come in. When they call you, they are offering an opportunity that may or may not turn out. When they call you, they don't know any of your information.

    So no, you didn't get scammed. You just simply didn't fit the criteria that the client wanted. And like others said, you are never asked sensitive data by these legitimate places. If you are asked pretty serious stuff, don't answer it. But knowing house hold income ranges, educations etc. is pretty innocuous.

    I hope that helped and made you more at ease.
  16. toyolover

    toyolover Member

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    LW Research should have told the answering party how long their "screening process" would take. I know, these guys will lie and say it will only take 3 minutes. If this happens next time, tell them their 3-minute time is up. Insist that you must be paid to continue. Otherwise, just drop the line.

    Don't call me too materialistic. If they get paid for every minute they spend working with their client, why can't I ask for the same answering their questions. At the end, they'd turn my answers to cash.
  17. drumslinger

    drumslinger future hybrid owner

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    Re: Not conned...just rejected..




    nda?
  18. Codyroo

    Codyroo Senior Member

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    Re: Not conned...just rejected..



    Non disclosure agreement
  19. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    This is now old enough that I can answer a bit more without skewing other potential participants.



    The specific other models were Insight-II, Civic, Civic Hybrid, and Fit.

    Again, they would not disclose who was paying for this research, only saying that we could draw our own conclusions. And as I was unemployed then, the payment was very much worth my time.
  20. JP Duminy

    JP Duminy New Member

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    Photographers/Modeling Agencies/Acting Agencies [valid ones] never ask for money before the do what they do. So try a refund and if they don't give it back I think you can report them as a scam with the police or anywhere on the internet. Sorry if it doesn' t work out!