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Tuesday, 10 April 2007

SMH Reader Poll - Sunday calls from pollsters...

On Tuesday 10th April the Sydney Morning Herald published an article titled 'Pollsters may still be able to ring on Sunday, like it or not.' While Taverner Research has no objection to the general content, and praises the SMH for making the clear distinction between 'market research' and 'telemarketing', Taverner is concerned that the related 'Reader Poll' leads-in with the question 'Is telemarketing okay on a Sunday for political polling?'

Philip Mitchell-Taverner, Managing Director of Taverner Research and Fellow of the Australian Market Research and Social Research Organisation (AMSRO) has responded to this affront to genuine Market Research in a letter to the editor.

In this letter, Philip points out that "... the 'poll' question cannot be answered, because (a) political polling is not telemarketing and (b) the wording of the question introduces utter bias. The question as posed is inappropriately phrased, shows a complete lack of understanding of the issues and is inconsistent with the high standing of the newspaper."

Philip goes on to explain that "The issues affecting how households respond to unsolicited calls are far too complex to be addressed in a simplistic one question 'poll'. The community has enough difficulty understanding the difference between a telemarketing and a research call without being subjected to biased and poorly phrased questions that clearly have not been written by researchers. The essence of a good question is to eliminate bias and seek answers that can truly be acted upon."

The letter goes on to point out some of the issues facing the industry and benefits to the community of Market Research surveys, and how the environment will change once the Do Not Call register is in operation.

"Sundays are a very important day for researchers to obtain survey information... It should remain that way so that we ... collect statistically based, representative information that is beneficial in so many ways. With telemarketers unable to make calls indiscriminately, as was the case, research can re-establish itself as the important information and communication source that it deserves to be."

Please contact Philip on philip@taverner.com.au for a copy of the entire letter.

posted by Tom Mitchell-Taverner

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