The pratice of “sugging” – selling under the guise of research – is used increasingly by some companies to collect individuals’ data, without it being made clear that it is for marketing, rather than research purposes.
A study by regulator Ofcom into nuisance calls revealed that consumers who experienced unwanted calls received around two per week on average.
Typically these unethical calls are labelled as “lifestyle surveys” and used to lead respondents into the mistaken belief that the survey is genuine market research.
The respondent is unaware of the reason that his or her information is being used and how it will be stored and shared.
MRS is the self-regulatory body of the market research industry. Calls to its hotline, which show a breach of the Code of Conduct, will be forwarded to the Information Commissioner’s Office or the police as appropriate.
Jane Frost chief exec of MRS, said: “As a sector we need to always remember that just because a thing can be done does not mean it should. Commercial and operational pressures can put this at risk, whilst the huge mass of legislation is difficult to navigate and its complexity provides traps for the untrained and unwary.”
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