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View Full Version : Number Portability == Headaches for Pollsters?

David McNamee
01-06-2004, 03:52 AM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/1230polls-skewed.html' target='_blank'>http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/1230polls-skewed.html</a><br /><br /></div>Normally, one doesn't think about polling data and cellular phones. However, as a recent Arizona Republic article points out, the recent phone number portability rules in the U.S. may be impacting the quality of the data being collected by marketing and political pollsters. The Federal Communications Commission has regulations forbidding pollsters to call anyone who would have to pay for the call. That means no polling calls to cellular phones. Pollster's phone lists have always excluded cell phone numbers, but the phone number portability rules have made it difficult to keep them off:<br /><br />"... when an FCC order went into effect last month giving consumers the right to keep their phone numbers when changing to a new phone company, the intermixing of land-line and wireless numbers confounded the polling industry.<br /><br />Now, even if pollsters dial what used to be a land line, if it turns out to be wireless they can be sued. "<br /><br />This is interesting because of the potential impact on polling data. For any poll to be valid, it needs to cover a broad sample population. Could the "wireless demographic" be excluded from public opinion polls? Probably not this year, but the trend to "go wireless" is continuing. Pollsters may soon need to address how to capture opinions from an unwired populous.

Mike Temporale
01-06-2004, 03:25 PM
Very interesting issue. That's something I had not considered before. I would be very pissed at any tele-marketer that called me on my mobile. Although this isn't really tele-marketing, it's along the same lines.

Why would I want to waste my time and my money to answer your questions? They get paid for the information they collect for free.

I hope that the carriers start to reverse the charges for calls coming from specific sources like surveys and tele-marketers. That would be the best solution.

01-06-2004, 03:33 PM
Here's a novelle idea: the pollsters should lobby the wireless providers to change their business model to eliminate charges for incoming calls. That was one thing that really bugged me moving back to the states from Europe. Over there I'd become accustomed to free incoming minutes with my D2 provider.

I've never understood how stateside wireless companies came to operate this way. We don't get charged for inbound land-line calls, after all.

01-06-2004, 07:42 PM
I've been home phoneless for something like 6 or 7 years. For the first few years I never recieved solicitations over my cell but for the past couple of years I've started recievinv solicitations. It varies from one to five a month. I always find it irksome when I recieve a call on my cell and its someone asking me for money.

01-07-2004, 11:25 AM
Here's a novelle idea: the pollsters should lobby the wireless providers to change their business model to eliminate charges for incoming calls.

Don't worry this will happen soon enough. Why? One word: Politicians. They depend a lot on polls to gauge the electorate and support for key issues etc. Once they realise that data is getting suspect they will make it a law or quietly force the FCC or the Wireless industry to do this if they want their lobbying demands to be met. Why do you think calls on behalf of politicians and pollsters are exempt from the do-not-call list? When it comes to issues dealing directly with them politicians can be quite smart. Already the only successful call I got after registering for the do-not-call list was for a poll.

The flip side is that the wireless operators will take away or dramatically reduce the free night and weekend minutes to compensate. Well from the country I come from there certainly were free incoming plans but not much of free night and weekend minutes. In the US free incoming isn't really required since most people can get easy access to a land line and you can always carry over a long conversation to that.

01-08-2004, 11:10 PM
As an employee of a major market research firm (rhymes with Pallup Goll...) I can attest that this is a concern - HOWEVER it only affect firms that use what is called powerdialers. These are machines that take an active area code and prefix, then just dial every number in the string - 0000 to 9999. If you are not using such a device, then calls to mobile numbers are considered honest mistakes and are not "sueable"

From a research standpoint, portability is a problem simply because most polls only want to include one opinion from each household - so as more people have more numbers, the likelihood that they could participate in the same survey more than once increases. Which would obviously skew the ultimate results. There are steps we take to guard against it, but it's still a challenge.

Mike Temporale
01-09-2004, 02:00 AM
If you are not using such a device, then calls to mobile numbers are considered honest mistakes and are not "sueable"

Does that mean, if I get a call on my mobile, I just tell them it's a mobile phone, please don't call this number. And they would stop??

oh, and powerdialers are also known as wardialers. Which is where the term wardriving came from.