Saturday, 17 March 2012

British Waterways survey of boat owners.

From time to time British Waterways conducts a survey of boat owners. This year we were included in the random sample. Intended to gauge customer satisfaction and to gather boat owners thoughts on a number of aspects of boating life. The feedback is supposed to influences spending priorities. Unfortunately there is no question in the survey about payment of staff bonuses. (YES / NO)

Now, surveys can be used to pre-determine the survey outcome. It all comes down to is how the questions are constructed. And whether you trust British Waterways to use the feedback honestly.

Let me give you a an idea. lets suppose British Waterways want to build even more off-line Marinas in a given location.

Then the question might be constructed:-

What are the important "must-haves at a mooring site." Tick all the boxes that apply.

Mooring Rings.
Mooring Bollards.
Mooring Pontoon.
Water Point.
Elsan Disposal.
Pump Out Service.
Electrical Supply Bollards.
Shower Blocks.
Toilet Block.
Rubbish Disposal Point.
Secure Parking.

Now any boater would want all of the above items at any mooring and would tick all the boxes.

The question says "Mooring Site" and makes no mention of a Marina. So you might think this applies to all mooring sites. Now stand back for a moment, where is the only location that these sort of services can be provided - IN A MARINA. Marinas are the cash cows for BW, They can also be used to remove on line mooring areas. Which may not be what you have in mind for your favourite bit of canal. The one thing that marinas do however bring about, is localised congestion if the number of available berths is large. Can you hear Nero fiddling?

British Waterways then says:- The result of our survey 2012 suggest that boaters want all the services - which can only be supplied by a marina facility located at Twonks Wharf on the Twaddle cut. Simples!

The supporting email suggests that :- "Findings are completely anonymous and can never be traced back to individuals." However, in my case they ask enough questions in the questionnaire to narrow it down enough to have a very good idea. So I used a bit of slight of hand and massage some of the responses given to point to a nearby location.

The information says "We’re sending out emails to a random sample of boaters. Each one contains a link to the on line survey that can only be used once and only from that email address." This is not true as the email address that British Waterways have for me (which is automatically forwarded to my real address) works perfectly fine. Whether you can use the provided link more than once I don't know.

One of the questions responses asks if you would join CaRT as a subscriber. A curious question this one - as the Trustees have already stated that they don't want a CaRT membership. When you feel the need to question the motives for the survey - you have to ask yourself - is it in my best interests!

While I'm in the mood for dispelling myths - have a read at this.

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