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by Dale Connelly, 2/11/00

Dc: This is DCR, news meant for amusement. What sort of gift should you give that person who is most special to you? Often a difficult choice, the possibility that you will give exactly the wrong gift, and the damage that results, has led to the creation of a service that is both modern and old fashioned at the same time. With me is Ralph Peepers, founder and president of SOS, "Significant Other Surveys". Thanks for coming in.

RALPH: Glad to be here.

Dc: How can a survey help in a situation like this, where you want to buy a gift but you don't know if it'll be ... right.

RALPH: It's a very special survey. A survey of one.

Dc: You don't call ... a hundred people?

RALPH: I used to be in that business. Now we're much more "targeted."

Dc: How does it work?

RALPH: You call us and tell us what you want to give as a gift, along with the name of your significant person and a phone number where we can reach them during the day ... we call and I say "Hello, I'm from ... "Emperical Data Corporation" or "Valued Opinion Partners," and I'd like to ask you a few questions for a survey we're doing on ... Valentine's gifts.

Dc: So you're going right to the source to find out if an intended gift will be well received or not.

RALPH: Right, but we try to be crafty about it. We don't say ... "Would you like a box of chocolates, yes or no?"

Dc: That would be very direct.

RALPH: We would say ... "Which of the following four choices sounds most appealing as a Valentines gift ... "lingerie, flowers, candy or ... jewelry."
And then if the person answers "candy," we say ... "which flavor combinations are most enticing ... milk chocolate with nuts, milk chocolate without nuts ..." and so forth and so on.

Dc: This could be useful for a lot of things.

RALPH: Yes. We've done Individually Targeted Surveys on preferences for where to go on a date, most attractive hair styles, what kind of shoes do you like, all the way up to the exact wording of a marriage proposal.

Dc: Shouldn't people in a romantic relationship ... already know this about each other?

RALPH: In a perfect world, yes. But if you ask people what part of their relationship needs the most work, they'll almost always say "communication." We can't seem to talk honestly. And often we're more willing to tell a stranger what's bugging us or what we'd like to have happen ... than we are our own true love!

Dc: There must be a limit to the number of times you can do this.

RALPH: No. Not really.

Dc: What if they catch on?

RALPH: We have a lot of company names we use.

Dc: Even so ... It's like spying.

RALPH: No, spying is where we follow them around and peek through their windows and take pictures and tap the phone.

Dc: That's certainly unethical.

RALPH: And very lucrative. But I don't recommend it.

Dc: Because it's wrong?

RALPH: Because if we knew everything there was to know about people, I don't think any of us would ever go out with anybody. Ever. There's be no relationships, no marriages, no children.

Dc: And that would be the end of life as we know it.

RALPH: And I would be putting myself out of business. So ... a little bit of knowledge ... that's what we need. And I'm happy to provide it.

Dc: Ralph Peepers, founder and president of SOS, "Significant Other Surveys".

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