Telephone Surveys

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Telephone Surveys

A telephone survey is a method of opinion research where telephone numbers are used to contact potential respondents, either from the general population or from a known sample (for example, license buyers or members of an organization). Telephone surveys offer researchers access to a large proportion of the population of the United States (through random selection of telephone numbers). They also offer quality control procedures- interviewers can be professionally trained to obtain information from respondents in a valid way. Telephone surveys also offer the researcher an ability to follow-up with respondents after initial contact.

Did You Know?
The “Do Not Call” list was developed to give the public the option of not being called by telemarketers – those who want to sell them something on the phone. As a result, do-not-call registries, both statewide and federal, have reduced the number of intrusive requests for people’s time by telephone solicitors, and anti-spam regulations and software reduce the number of sales-focused, unwanted e-mails Americans receive. Some respondents confuse legitimate researchers with telemarketers—those who want to sell something over the phone.

But the U.S. government has recognized the importance of survey and opinion research and has ruled that survey research is not telemarketing, is not spam and does not apply to the Do Not Call registry.

The reasons survey research and political opinion polling do not fall under these categories are that both are allowed and encouraged by government agencies and legislators as important means of understanding the opinions, preferences, needs and wants related to products, services, companies and elected officials for key public policy issues.

Other federal regulations that pertain to sales-related calls include (these laws regulate the activities of sales-related callers, i.e. telemarketers, telephone solicitors and the like, while implicitly exempting survey research calls):

1. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)—under this law:

  • Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)—under this law:
  • Telephone solicitors are prohibited from calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Telephone solicitors are prohibited from sending unsolicited faxes
  • Telephone solicitors are prohibited from using an auto-dialer or prerecorded message to call consumers without their consent
  • Telephone solicitors that use recorded messages must state the identity of the business and provide its address or telephone number

2. Telemarketing Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (The Telemarketing Sales Rule)—under this law:

  • Makes “sugging” illegal by requiring telemarketers to promptly disclose their name and that the purpose of their call is sales related - including the nature and price of the product the caller is attempting to sell
  • Prohibits telemarketers from placing sales calls except between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Requires telemarketers to comply with consumers' do-not-call requests
  • Prohibits telemarketers from placing repeated calls or allowing a telephone to ring with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass a person

For further information on the rule, please visit the FTC Web site.