DAB survey techniques need work

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2000, 12:00am

Recently I received a strange phone call. A female voice told me the call was part of a Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong Party (DAB) survey on noise pollution. I have to praise her telephone manner as I had no idea it was a recording until a few futile attempts to talk to her.

I was asked about my age and pressed the digits to answer. Then came the question: 'How often are you annoyed by noise pollution at your residence? Press one for 'Always', two for 'Sometimes' and three for 'Seldom'.' I pressed three, and all I got was, 'Wrong choice, please try again'. I tried three again and I got the same feedback.

I tried one more time, with the same result, followed by, 'Thank you for helping us with the survey'. End of call.

It was the first time I have been told by a surveyor that I made the wrong choice! I have no idea whether something was wrong with the interactive system or DAB was trying to lead me to the choice they desired.

I am also puzzled by the limited choice of answers to the question. There was no option of 'No noise pollution at all' which is applicable in my case. When those surveyed are not given all reasonable choices of answer and cannot choose the answer nearest to their choice, how meaningful is the data collected? What is so amazing about statistics is that they are subject to the user's interpretation so that you can use the same set of statistics to support opposing arguments. What's more, manipulation can take place even when the question and answers are formulated. I hope the DAB can improve its surveying techniques by refraining from offering leading choices and overhauling its interactive system, thereby raising the credibility of its survey findings.

I also wish the DAB would consider making it clear to the respondents in the first instance that it is an unsolicited, voice-recorded message. Unsolicited, voice-recorded phone calls do not show much courtesy in soliciting the views of the public.