Telephone Point of Purchase Survey (TPOPS) Respondents

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

On this Page:

General questions
  1. What is the TPOPS?
  2. Who conducts the TPOPS?
  3. How do I know the Census Bureau is attempting to contact me?
  4. Why is the TPOPS important?
  5. Why is the CPI important?
  6. I would like to participate. How do I sign up?
  7. Why was I chosen to participate?
  8. I am not that similar to the general population. Why do you want my responses?
  9. How long does the survey take?
  10. How many times will I be called for this survey/how long will I be in the survey?
  11. Can I fill out a paper or electronic form instead?
Common concerns
  1. I was chosen to participate, and don't want to.
  2. I don't do the shopping in my home. It's handled by my spouse or someone else.
  3. I'm very busy, and don't have time to complete the survey.
  4. What gives BLS and the Census the right to perform the TPOPS?
  5. I am still worried about the confidentiality of my information.

General questions

What is the TPOPS?

The Telephone Point of Purchase Survey (TPOPS) is an important survey that helps determine the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The TPOPS is used to collect data about where consumers purchase goods and services and how much they are spending, in order to get a better idea of the nation's consumption habits. The data from the TPOPS are then used to select the retail establishments in which the BLS monitors the prices of a sample of goods and services for the CPI.

Who conducts the TPOPS?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a part of the Department of Labor, sponsors the TPOPS. It is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, under contract with BLS.

How do I know the Census Bureau is attempting to contact me?

What displays on Caller ID for our outbound calls depends on your telephone provider. When the contact center interviewer places an outbound call, either the toll-free number of the survey is displayed, this case 1-800-681-3012, or the local number of the particular contact center.

The following are the contact center local numbers that typically appear on Caller ID:

"US Census Bureau" may or may not display on your Caller ID.

Why is the TPOPS important?

The TPOPS - together with the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey, Housing Survey, and the BLS Pricing Survey - is used to produce the Consumer Price Index.

Why is the CPI important?

The CPI is the government's leading measure of price inflation, and is used to measure changes in the cost of living in the country. Social Security, contractual cost-of-living increases, and a myriad of private wage contracts are all tied to changes in the CPI.

I would like to participate. How do I sign up?

Unfortunately, participation in the TPOPS is based on random sampling, and you cannot volunteer. A random sample is the best way to make sure that the survey captures a representative sample of the population, without having to interview all consumers in the country.

Why was I chosen to participate?

You were chosen based on a process called Random Digit Dialing (RDD). Your number was picked at random from all possible numbers within your metropolitan area. Your responses represent a portion of the general population.

I am not that similar to the general population. Why do you want my responses?

The TPOPS surveys many different individuals, who together make up a representative sample of the general population. Even if you think your spending habits are atypical, chances are there are many other people like you across the country. Your responses are very important to help the BLS understand all consumption patterns, not just those of the "general" population.

How long does the survey take?

Hardly any time at all! On average, the survey takes 7-15 minutes, depending on your answers.

How many times will I be called for this survey/how long will I be in the survey?

We seek the participation of each selected household for four interviews (one interview roughly every three months over a 12-month period) and then the selected household is dropped from the survey.

Can I fill out a paper or electronic form instead?

Due to the nature of the survey, it is best administered by a trained telephone operator. Filling out forms would be much more time-consuming and costlier in the long run.

Common Concerns

I was chosen to participate, and don't want to.

Participation in the TPOPS is not mandatory, and you can opt out of any question, or the survey as a whole, if you feel uncomfortable. However, choosing not to participate affects the accuracy of the CPI. Your responses not only represent thousands of individuals due to random selection, but they affect millions of people through the CPI. It's very important to participate if you can!

I don't do the shopping in my home. It's handled by my spouse or someone else.

No problem. The TPOPS interviewer will ask to speak to the respondent in your home who is most knowledgeable about your shopping habits.

I'm very busy, and don't have time to complete the survey.

The TPOPS interviewer will be happy to call you back at a time convenient for you. Because your responses represent so many people, the BLS is very accommodating in order to obtain your valuable input.

What gives BLS and the Census the right to perform the TPOPS?

Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 8b allows the Census Bureau to undertake surveys for other government agencies. Participation in the TPOPS is voluntary. However, under Title 13, the Census Bureau holds all information in strict confidence. Information reported in the survey which would permit the identification of a household or any of its members is not reported to anyone outside of the Census Bureau.

I am still worried about the confidentiality of my information.

All Census Bureau employees take an oath of confidentiality and are subject to fines and imprisonment, if they improperly disclose information provided by people like you. All information collected is used for statistical purposes only.

Furthermore, The Bureau of Labor Statistics, its employees, agents, and partner statistical agencies, will use the information you provide for statistical purposes only and will hold the information in confidence to the full extent permitted by law. In accordance with the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (Title 5 of Public Law 107-347) and other applicable Federal laws, your responses will not be disclosed in identifiable form without your informed consent.

Last Modified Date: January 14, 2014

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