A recent lunch at the popular California Pizza Kitchen chain in the tony Brentwood section of LA (made famous by OJ & Nicole) has left us with a distinctly unpleasant aftertaste. It wasn't the pizza, but a survey that came with the check.
The survey claims to rate "customer satisfaction." It actually rates the customers.
When the waiter handed us that check, he told us we'd get a free appetizer on our next visit if we took a survey on a website listed on the receipt. We're always up for a free lettuce wrap, so we checked it out when we returned to the Tabloid Baby office. The survey covers a dozen web pages. Most of the items are fairly innocuous, rating things like ambiance, the server’s menu knowledge, accuracy of the order, speed of service and wait time.
But the survey takes bizarre twist on the tenth webpage, where the questions include:
What is your gender?
What category best describes your age group?
What category best describes your annual household income?
What category best describes your ethnicity?
What is your home zip code?
Wait a second: What category best describes your ethnicity?
We’re allowed to select one:
- African American
- Hispanic or Latino
- Asian/Pacific Islander
- Some Other Ethnicity
- Prefer Not to Answer
So here’s our own survey question: Why does the California Pizza Kitchen need to know our race?
Are the survey answers weighted to take into account that African Americans may complain more, that Hispanics are more choosy because they’re used to working on the other side of the kitchen doors, or that Caucasians should be taken more seriously?
Or are they worried that the selections on their menu might have too much appeal to an undesireable ethnic group, and that if they don’t watch out they’ll turn into a Red Lobster?
Those questions make sense when you add in CPK's questions about annual household incomes and zip codes.
The CPK survey ends with a six-number validation code that must be given in order to get the free appetizer.
That’s another clue. As a test, we took the survey twice, giving different answers both times.
Both times, the validation code was different. Is that a code to the staff when we return for our free appetizer? Do the code numbers tell them whether the customer complained last time? Whether the customer should be white or not?
Paranoid? Put it this way: We don’t trust anyone who puts pineapple on pizzas.