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February 23, 2006

Roboscam: More from the Real USA Polling Group

Another quick Roboscam update.  See the post earlier today for the context, but as a result of my calls to the staff of the real "USA Polling Group" at the University of South Alabama, I received an email this morning from their Associate Director, Keith Nicholls, that will be of interest to those following this story.  It appears in full after the jump.

I spoke to Professor Nicholls briefly this morning, and something he said intriguing in regards to the pervious post by SurveyUSA's Jay Leve.  Like the Iowa Poll director I quoted on Tuesday, Nicholls' first thought of SurveyUSA when he heard about these calls.  "When people first started complaining about being called by an automated poll," he told me, "I assumed it was SurveyUSA."  So the concerns that Jay Leve articulated regarding potential damage to his brand are well founded. 

Readers will note that Professor Nicholls is far more skeptical of the IVR methodology than MP (see my posts on IVR surveys and my article in POQ).  That's another worthy debate for another day.  The critical and relevant point to the Roboscam story is this:  Pollsters may disagree vehemently among ourselves about which methodologies are best, but we all agree about "push polls" and other sham calls conducted under the guise of research.  They abuse respondent confidentiality and the research process, and we deplore them.

Email from Keith Nicholls:


Indeed you are correct that the automated calls in question do not come from our organization.  USA Polling Group is a small survey research center located on the main campus of the University of South Alabama in Mobile.  We conduct person-to-person public opinion polls by telephone for our local newspaper, the Mobile Register.  We consider this a public service.  We also conduct survey research for faculty member and telephone polls and marketing surveys for outside clients.  In no case do we try to sell anything.  We are not telemarketers.

Under no circumstances do we or would we conduct polls using an IVR system.  We do not have an IVR system and we do not believe such systems have any legitimate role to play in public opinion polling.  The results of such polls typically aren't worth the paper they're not written on.  In actuality, I suspect that the most common use of those systems involves unethical push-polling.

Certainly we have suffered from the case of mistaken identity.  We have received numerous complaints demanding that we cease and desist.  Many of these complaints are really over the top, hostile and belligerent, threatening FCC action, lawsuits, etc.  We respond to each of these complaints, assuring the complainant that we are not to blame.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Keith Nicholls, Associate Professor
Director, USA Polling Group


Related Entries - IVR Polls, Push "Polls" , Roboscam

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on February 23, 2006 at 04:36 PM in IVR Polls, Push "Polls" , Roboscam | Permalink


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Posted by: Prashanth | Feb 24, 2006 8:58:55 AM

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Posted by: Prashanth | Feb 24, 2006 9:35:45 AM

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