I know we live in an era where companies want to get as much data out of us as possible, and normally the data they want has to do with our consuming habits. But not always. Sometimes, it seems like companies may be trying to decide if we’re replicants, like in this survey sent to United frequent flyers.

These questions were shared by friend of Jalopnik Andrew Nier, who gave me a little bit of context:

It came from the Opinion Miles Club. They partner with United Mileage Plus for professional and consumer surveys.

This one was emailed to me as a professional survey: “You’ve experienced so much in your life and we want to hear about it! Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in this survey.

Thanks for participating! -The Opinion Miles Club Team

Valued professionals have the ability to participate in surveys that focus on their work experience. Professional surveys are very engaging and offer additional award miles - Start Now!”

Okay. That all seems pretty normal. Andrew told me it started pretty normally, questions about work, number of employees at his company, etc. before veering into more imaginative territory, asking him to describe, in detail, his dream vacation. Then we get to this set of incredible questions:

Seriously, is this a Voight-Kampff test?

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What the hell could this particular set of questions be looking for? An anorexic plumbing insulator who drives stick, sometimes off-road in his aging SUV, as he heads out to grab a dozen or so pounds of lobster, which he’ll share with his gerbil, who walks around in a huge mechanical exoskeleton he printed on a 3D printer? Is this United’s target market now?

Maybe they really want to know more about BMW M3 customers with clean clothes that get people out of jail, instead? It’s not clear.

Also, I’d kill to know the demographic significance of the seven pounds of lobster threshold. I’m told there’s some market researchers that can tell every tiny detail about you by just knowing how willing you are to buy more than seven pounds of lobster in a week. I know these questions are probably generated and selected by some algorithm, but what the hell is its goal?

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Andrew also sent me this fascinating screenshot:

Look at those options for occupation – that’s the whole list. Reiki practitioner is basically auto journalist, right? And the list of magazines is great, too, with Super Chevy and Ferry Travel Guide on the same list.

United, I have no idea what the hell you’re up to, but just know I’ve got my eye on you now. You’re up to some kind of weird shit, I can tell.

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I’m watching you.


Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.