NEWS18 May 2012

Law firm investigates alleged phone sugging by ‘polling firm’

Legal North America

US— A law firm is kicking off an investigation into Political Opinions of America (POA), which bills itself as a research firm but is accused of selling under the guise of research – a practice known as ‘sugging’.

Complaints have been raised by members of the public who report receiving a call from POA, which uses an automated calling system to ask questions about President Barack Obama’s performance, before being transferred to a real person who offers them a free cruise in a deal that sounds like a timeshare sales pitch, according to reports.

Attorneys-at-law Shapiro Haber & Urmy say they are investigating the company’s Caribbean Cruise Line and the Berkley Group, who are reportedly behind the calls. The companies are accused of trying to circumvent the anti-telemarketing Do Not Call list by posing as pollsters – whose calls are exempted from the do-not-call rules.

An attorney for Berkley told a Fox News reporter that the company is doing nothing illegal, suggesting that POA is using the cruise offer as an incentive to increase response rates.

POA’s website describes the company as working with “many of Non Profit and Political research organizations in conduction surveys and opinion polls on the nations top issues [sic]”. No staff or contact details are listed, although an email contact box is provided. Meanwhile, all the surveys listed under the “News” section of the site link to polls conducted by Gallup – which is unaffiliated to POA.