The emails we receive suggest that many people misunderstand TrueDelta and its research process. Here I’ll attempt to address the most common misunderstandings.
Misunderstanding #1: TrueDelta wants survey responses many times a month.
Reality: We usually only need a survey response the first month you’re eligible to participate, then at the end of every quarter after that (four times a year). We send at least one email per month, though, so people with repairs to report can report them while their memories are still fresh.
If someone hasn’t responded to the survey, they are sent reminder emails. This can lead to the above misunderstanding–some people get the idea that three emails means we wanted three responses per month, when we were actually looking for–but haven’t received–about one response every three months.
Misunderstanding #2: It’s not possible to avoid the reminder emails.
Reality: It’s easy to avoid the reminder emails. First off, respond to the survey when this is needed. In the months when no response is needed, simply click on the “check in” link in the email–this takes just seconds. If you respond promptly when a response is needed, the system will “learn” that you don’t need reminding. Once this occurs–usually after two responses (so two to four months)–it’s not even necessary to click on the “check in” link.
Misunderstanding #3: Participating takes too much time.
Reality: When there’s no repair to report, responding takes the average participant about 30 seconds, and some as few as ten seconds. Even if there is a repair to report, responding takes just a couple of minutes. Other car reliability surveys are much longer.
Misunderstanding #4: The emails aren’t necessary–why not just let people report repairs as they occur?
Reality: We wish the emails were not necessary, but the response rate would be VERY low without them. Nearly all responses occur within 48 hours of an email. Once 48 hours have past, most people forget to respond, even though many intended to. So it’s also necessary to send reminders.
Misunderstanding #5: There’s no point in participating once you’ve bought a car.
Reality: The only way we can provide information when people need it is if they participate in between purchases. This is a team effort. Provide information when other members need it, and they’ll provide information when you need it. You might not need reliability information on the car you currently own, but you might later need reliability information on cars other members own.
Misunderstanding #6: It’s necessary to check your car to get an exact odometer reading.
Reality: We collect odometer readings to verify that you’re still active, and to get an idea of how many miles (or kilometers) are on the average car. It’s not important to know if the average is 11,000 or 12,000. So an approximate reading is good enough. If you’re guess is way off, we can easily correct it.
Misunderstanding #7: It’s necessary to have a repair receipt to respond to the repair survey.
Reality: The repair survey is designed to be answerable based on what you can remember. The most critical information–whether or not the car was repaired–tends to be easy to remember, especially since you’re only being asked to remember the last month or two.
Misunderstanding #8: We’re only interested in data on fairly new cars.
Reality: The Car Reliability Survey covers any car from 1995 on. The other surveys currently only cover from 2002 on, but we’ll be extending them to cover a few earlier model years.
Misunderstanding #9: We’re only interested in cars owned in the U.S.
Reality: While most members are Americans, we have thousands of Canadians and hundreds from outside North America. The Car Reliability Survey can include any car, anywhere–as long as at least 25 are signed up to participate. We’ve been adding non-US powertrains, for people in the UK and elsewhere who want to participate in the Repair History and Gas Mileage Surveys. Want more participants from where you live? Then please tell friends and family about our research.
Misunderstanding #10: We’re a big corporation collecting data from car owners so we can sell it to manufacturers.
Reality: While a few people are employed part-time on a contract basis, I’m TrueDelta’s only full-time employee. We do not sell data to the manufacturers. Instead, our focus is on providing information to members. When you respond to a survey, you’re helping other participants.
By keeping our expenses low, we’re able to do everything necessary to collect and analyze the data without charging participants any membership fee. We’re able to cover our costs through ads and affiliates–without accepting any ads directly from the car manufacturers.
The main limitation: we can’t afford to spend money on advertising and marketing. So it’s very important that members help the site grow by telling others about what we’re doing here. The more people we can get involved, the more information we can provide.