National Consumers League

A sucker for public opinion research


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By Mimi Johnson, Director of NCL Health Policy The other night, the land line rang and, though I did not recognize the name or number, I answered.  My number is on the ‘Do Not Call’ list, which has – for the most part - kept the telemarketers away.  Rather than someone trying to sell me something, I now frequently get calls with people seeking my opinion. While many might cringe and eagerly hang up when they hear that phrase ‘do you have a few minutes …’, I get a little excited.  Of course I have a few minutes to share my opinion.  I grew up always wondering who on earth was being polled about this or that, because it certainly wasn’t me.   In the last year or two, I’ve participated in polls and surveys about politics, health reform and the health industry, the regional power company, among other things. Last night, I was able to share my thoughts on transportation in the region.  As the public transit system prepares to make cuts to services and raise fares, and the roads grow more clogged with cars each day, I surely had a thing or two to say! At NCL, we frequently rely on consumer surveys to gauge consumer opinions on and understanding of various issues.  With this information, we are able to advocate on your behalf.  We testify before Congress or federal agencies, and we produce educational materials to address your questions and concerns.  Recognizing the value of this information, I have definitely grown to appreciate those “pesky” calls a bit more. So, the next time you’re settling down to relax at night and the phone rings, think twice about ignoring it or cutting the call short.  As a savvy consumer, you should take every opportunity afforded to you to share your thoughts and opinions about products and services. But if you don't want to participate in these surveys, that's up to you -- check out this amusing piece from the Consumerist.