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For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
(H. L. Mencken)
Most companies active in market research and in telephone surveys use specialized suppliers to secure samples of telephone numbers. These specialists collect information about the use of telephone exchanges (the first three digits in the seven-digit number that follows the area code); they attach geographical information to listed numbers; they develop algorithms to draw lists of random numbers that are efficient and well targeted.
In the United States, there are five companies offering what appear to be similar sampling products. Circum Network Inc. was retained to analyse the quality of the products and services offered by these five companies in the US (in alphabetical order): Affordable Samples Inc., ASDE Inc. (Survey Sampler), Genesys Sampling Systems, Scientific Telephone Samples and Survey Sampling International LLC. The underlying research was funded by ASDE Inc. but conducted in an independent manner using an approach that avoided assessment biases.
The conclusions? All samples of telephone numbers are not created equal: service quality varies from supplier to supplier, but, most importantly, the efficiency and precision of the samples are also variable. Key criteria are service quality and pricing, efficiency, avoidance of out-of-geography numbers and inclusiveness.
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