Majority of residents want to be on do-not-call list
TORONTO - Nearly two thirds of Canadians are tired of annoying supper-hour telemarketing calls and plan to register their phone numbers on the CRTC's new national do-not-call list which takes effect Tuesday, a new poll suggests.
The poll conducted for the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association indicates 51 per cent of Canadians are aware of the no-call list, up from 44 per cent at the same time last year.
Once respondents were informed of the list, 64 per cent said they planned to register their phone numbers.
The poll for the association, which represents the majority of the country's market research companies, also suggests 61 per cent of Canadians believe exemptions from the no-call list -- which includes pollsters, researchers and government agencies -- will not affect the list's ability to stop calls from unwanted telemarketers.
"The exemption for survey research was granted because parliamentarians wanted to ensure that corporate and government decision makers would continue to have access to information about what people actually think about issues that are important to them," said Brendan Wycks, executive director of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association.
The poll by Acrobat Research Ltd. of 1,000 people was conducted from Aug. 7 to Aug. 14, 2008, and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Acrobat Research Ltd., along with other major Canadian pollsters, is a member of the research association.
Once a number is on the no-call registry, telemarketers will be barred from dialing that number, or face a hefty fine if they do.
If a registered household files a complaint, the maximum fines for individuals and companies is $1,500 and $15,000, respectively.
When compared with a similar poll conducted last year, Canadians' awareness of the no-call list is up seven percentage points, a number Wycks attributes to media coverage and campaigns from advocacy groups.
The polls were conducted as part of the research association's program to promote the power of public opinion in a democracy, Wycks said.
Although the privacy issue of the do-not-call list is important, so are the benefits of telephone research, he added.
"Political parties, like governments, rely heavily on public opinion polling to know what people think about their policy proposals," Wycks said.
"Without polls, our political system would be less democratic and far less responsive to people."
In fact, telephone polling helped push for the creation of the no-call list, as it was a poll commissioned by Industry Canada that initially indicated consumer frustration with telemarketers, Wycks added.
The U.S. has had a no-call registry since 2003, with similar exemptions for research firms.
The confidence Canadians have in a list's ability to block telemarking calls despite the exemptions is justified, Wycks said.
A poll by the American firm Harris Interactive of 2,565 U.S. adults surveyed online between Oct. 9 and Oct. 15, 2007 indicated 72 per cent of Americans had registered their telephone numbers for that country's no-call registry, with 18 per cent reporting they received no telemarketing calls.
About 59 per cent said they still received some calls, but far fewer than before they signed onto the list.
In all, more than 145 million phone numbers are listed on the American no-call list.
"Based on the experience with the do-not-call lists in the U.S. and U.K., the CRTC is projecting that by October 2010, 60 per cent of the 27 million residential telephone numbers in Canada will be registered," said Wycks.
"That works out to about 16 million (phone numbers)."