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Citizen survey won’t include cellphone users

January 22, 2010 - 2:09 pm

In March and April, 600 San Diegans will be contacted by phone and asked to rate their satisfaction with a range of city services, from libraries and rec centers to homeless services, public safety and graffiti abatement. The “Citizen Survey,” administered by Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center, is, arguably, setting a foundation for raising taxes/fees for certain city services amid a $77 million budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year (see Page 3 of a draft version (PDF) of the survey).

Anytime a phone survey’s administered, there’s an issue that comes up: cellphone users. Young people tend not to have landlines and most telephone surveys omit cellphone users. A citizens commission that’s providing input on the survey brought this up. But, according to a report (PDF) just released by the city’s Independent Budget Analyst, only folks with landlines will be included in the survey:

Including cell phones would create various obstacles that would not occur when calling only landlines. For example, the cell phone sample would include county-wide residents.  Therefore, [Behavioral Research Center] would need to screen for city residents, which would increase the number of callbacks that occurred. Also, callbacks would need to be made if the cell phone users, when contacted, were involved in a task that may not lend itself to being interviewed, such as driving.  The cost of administering the survey would therefore increase from $24,000 to $33,000.  It would also expand the firm’s scope of work which would not be consistent with the original Request for Proposal.

The city’s Budget & Finance Committee will discuss the survey on Wednesday, Jan. 27. If you think it’s important that the city find a way to make sure a diversity of San Diegans are included, show up and weigh in. Or, if you’re a cellphone-onlier, run out and get a landline. You’ve got something like a 1-in-2,000 chance (my incredibly unscientific estimate) of being contacted.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. jason permalink
    January 25, 2010 - 12:28 pm 12:28 pm

    I haven’t had a land line in two years. Why can’t they just put the survey on a website? I’d be glad to rate the services that way, but if they called my house (IF I had a land line) I would be less likely to respond.

  2. jenjen permalink
    January 26, 2010 - 6:15 pm 6:15 pm

    Definitely not just young people. I know folks of all ages who have given up on landlines.

    • January 27, 2010 - 9:28 am 9:28 am

      Magic Jack users too will be left out. Why don’t they disclose that in the infomercials?

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