Personally, I would go by what the survey says instead of what the employee says. I don't think I've ever seen a survey that didn't give a written scale (like "From 1 to 10 where 1 is "not very good" and 10 is "excellent""). If the company lies on their survey - asking for a 1-10 scale and really only wanting true/false - that's their issue to fix and not something I want to have to correct for.
This sounds very much like the people who, when informed that in much of the US servers get paid below minimum wage and are expected to have tips fill in the difference, refuse to tip in order to encourage the system to change.
If you're not willing to fulfill the social contract of tipping, don't go out to eat. If you're not willing to speak the language of the survey, don't fill out the survey.
The only people who get hurt in either case are the people who have no power to effect change.
Corporate would definitely re-evaluate the survey process if they suddenly stopped getting any results back whatsoever.
I think there is a very clear indication of the intention to go by the language of the survey. The problem is that apparently some people are expected to divine on at least some surveys that they aren't supposed speak the language of the contract but rather some other, secret language. If you believe there is a social contract to know and speak that language then I heartily disagree with you. That would be like arguing that being informed of an 18% autogratuity in reality obligates everyone to tip 25% and we should all know that and tip accordingly or not go out to eat.
That's not what I said at all.
Being informed of how the surveys work behind the scenes is like being told that servers don't make minimum wage. I don't expect anyone to know either piece of information without being told first. That would be totally unreasonable!
However, being told and then insisting upon behaving in a way that hurts people who don't deserve it- that's where the social contract comes in. Once you know how the surveys work, despite the untrue phrasing used on the surveys themselves, either take it into account or don't do the survey.
I'm not asking anyone to lie. Far from it! I'm only explaining how the corporate offices actually read the surveys. It's not an intuitive and reasonable system- if it were, we would not be having this conversation at all!
An example I personally witnessed: A cashier, one of our best and friendliest employees, gave out a survey (it printed with the receipt automatically), and the customer was livid about their whole visit, due to the fact that the "employee" they'd asked for help had claimed to not be an employee.
(spoiler alert: they were, in fact, another customer, and the angry customer had totally ignored the actual employees offering to help him. the situation was pretty hilarious at the time.)
The cashier was given a 2 of 5 survey score by this customer. So corporate ordered that she be written up. The general manager fought the write-up, because not a single thing about the customer's anger was the cashier's or even the store as a whole's fault.
That cashier- a friendly, sweet, kind-hearted woman who worked hard and was never late and only wanted to help customers, eventually got fired because she got too many surveys with 4 out of 5's on them. Corporate didn't care- they only wanted a body to ask all their questions and take money. But the morale and actual customer service levels in our store directly suffered as a result of corporate being obtuse about surveys.
Taking surveys the way you think is right is fine, but shouldn't you care enough about the people around you to take into account new information about how they work?