Aeroplan, a Canadian travel rewards company, is apologizing to customers after putting out a survey with some rather controversial questions. Aeroplan sent members an email offering 100 bonus miles for completing a “shopping and life habits” survey, but the survey also included some provocative questions on topics such as male superiority, gay marriage, immigration, and family values.
Alain Giguere, president of CROP, the company that conducted the survey, says the questions were only included to give Aeroplan a better understanding of their customers’ perspectives. Giguere stands by the questions, saying members were free to disagree with them. But in the aftermath of the data mining scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica many people were unhappy about the questions, not just for their content, but for their potential use in building political profiles of Aeroplan members.
Aeroplan quickly issued an apology and promised to delete the data collected in the survey.
We apologize for any offense caused by the questions in this survey. It does not reflect our values as a company and we will be deleting all data gathered from it.
— Aeroplan (@Aeroplan) April 2, 2018
Many customers felt the damage had already been done and an apology was too little too late.
Apologies from Aeroplan mean nothing. Will you fire all involved, and sue the polling firm?
— GhitaVee (@GhitaVee) April 2, 2018
Suggest you tighten your procedures and vet your contractors. As a multi-decade Aeroplan member I find the insensitivity and lack of awareness demonstrated by the questions in this survey to be surprising from a Canadian company. #aeroplan
— Doogie Bliss (@DoogieBliss) April 2, 2018
Please say it was an April fools prank pic.twitter.com/4SfZDaWYHy
— O C Chef Girl (@O_C_Chef_Girl) April 2, 2018
They're “deleting” it, but that's a pretty valuable excel sheet in the wrong hands. Won't be surprised if it's used in election targeting at some point.
— Nick Routley (@Phanyxx) April 2, 2018
Politics and beliefs reveal values and personality, which can be combined with social data and shopping data for psychoanalytical profiles. You know what cambridge analytica did.
— Steve (@longblockchain) April 2, 2018
Some believed that, regardless of what the answers might be, simply asking the questions wasn’t wrong.
You are aware these were questions and not declarative statements, right?
— Brett Strong (@BrettRStrong) April 2, 2018
You're supposed to answer no and move on with your life. Some people really think this way nó matter what you do and the only way to fight it is by sussing out who they are. That's what surveys do
— PIGGO (@P1GGO) April 2, 2018
She could’ve just said she disagreed with those statements when asked in the survey.
— Edel Barrett (@delibird910) April 2, 2018
Not too complicated. All the survey takers had to do was say “disagree” with those statements. Pretty straightforward
— Edel Barrett (@delibird910) April 2, 2018
She had a choice to skip the bonus miles and not take part in the survey.
— Investigare (@PandaBear9336) April 2, 2018
But others pointed out that including the questions could have negative repercussions.
I study attitudes toward immigration. These questions are far from being beyond the pale when measuring social values. But I get the whiplash of going from a market research survey to a political survey.https://t.co/wtRhnfEFa0
— Tim Gravelle (@tim_gravelle) April 2, 2018
Language IS important. How questions are asked can often shape answers but more damaging – shape people’s perspectives. Did you ask about households with parents sharing responsibility? About how our society is made more prosperous by welcoming people from other countries?
— Mike Layton (@m_layton) April 2, 2018
Surveys that normalize male superiority & anti-immigration are not trivial… they are unethical & hurt the legitimacy of surveys, as a whole.
— NoTrumpZone (@LongAsUCan2) April 2, 2018
Wow, you folks are just working double-time to set history as far back as possible, eh?! They are not bold questions, they are a means to further entrench male chauvinism, a family paradigm which is riddled with abuse & malign and racism. @Aeroplan #cbc https://t.co/XtvkQfJ1eS
— Gary Bourque (@ApeBeta) April 2, 2018
In the age of scandal it seems like the only real corporate value is “don’t get caught.”
It’s weird how companies keep getting caught doing things that don’t reflect their values.
— Osborne Osbeorn (@VikingBearGod) April 2, 2018