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A Panel Nightmare in Vegas Should Be A Wake-Up Call for MR

Gavel photo opensourceWe’ve been noting regularly that the market research industry faces a potentially disastrous problem because it no longer can trust obsolete panel-recruitment methods to find the numbers and types of respondents needed to produce reliable survey data.

And we’ve been emphasizing that the answer is state-of-the art, all-mobile research. MFour’s clients harness the special capabilities of smartphones for solutions at both ends of the research equation: engaging a reliable and effective panel, and getting ironclad data from them using a special mobile survey app and advanced Geo-location technology.

Now comes word from Las Vegas about a case in which the panel problem turned into a nightmare and generated a fascinating lawsuit. It ended with a judge’s ruling against a company that was supposed to recruit respondents for a research firm’s casino-related study, but allegedly resorted to dishonest means to fill out the panel (thanks to MRWeb’s Daily Research News for publishing the first report).

A Research Nightmare: “Gross misrepresentation”

Here’s how it went down, according to court records and news releases from James Industry Research Group (JIR), which successfully sued for damages.

Las Vegas-based JIR was engaged by a slot machine manufacturer to oversee a “players test” of its gaming equipment by a panel of casino gamblers. JIR hired another Nevada company, ACR Business Resources, to recruit the 40 respondents. 

JIR staff members became suspicious as they tried to contact the 40 recruits by phone as part of a routine validation process. They found that screening criteria hadn’t been followed. A JIR news release about the case said that it suspected “falsification” and “gross misrepresentation of respondent data.” It fired ACR and recruited a new panel on its own.

Jim James, the JIR President, said he sued more on principle than to recoup the cost of ACR’s failure.

“Cheating is wrong,” James said. “We’ve seen this type of data fabrication previously….When companies within our industry operate without data integrity, it’s a detriment to all of us.”

JIR sued for $5,531 in a small claims court in Henderson, NV., according to court records; ACR and its principal, Carol Greco, countersued for a similar amount. Judge Rodney Burr found in favor of JIR and awarded it a $2,606 judgment, plus $181 in court costs. In JIR’s recent announcement of the case’s outcome, the victorious James offered to provide a “roadmap for how we presented our case” to other market researchers who’ve been burned by data fabrication or falsification issues and want to file claims.

MFour applauds James and his company for insisting on honest research and congratulates them for winning redress.

All-Mobile Panel Recruitment is No Gamble

We’d also like to point the way for research firms and corporate consumer research departments to immunize themselves against panel recruitment that’s fraudulent, or even merely flawed: the all-mobile approach pioneered by MFour, which includes automatic validation of panelists and their responses. We’ve even deployed it on the gambling strip in Las Vegas.

 “With GPS technology inherent in mobile devices, we know when and how often respondents visit casinos,” said Michael Smith, MFour’s Chief Product Officer & Director of Panel. “Using this trusted validation technique, we’ve accomplished multiple studies” for casino industry clients.

The most recent one, Smith said, involved “monitoring out-of-towners’ visits to six separate casinos on the strip. We wanted to know what drew them to these major casinos, how often, and for how long.”

Recruiting the right panel to receive the right questions at the right time doesn’t have to be a gamble – even in the heart of Las Vegas. Market researchers just need to know that state-of-the-art mobile is the way to place their bets.