Consumer frustration with robocalls remains high; TNS estimates Americans received 78.9 billion robocalls in 2021. While robocall volume is down from pre-pandemic levels, consumers are not feeling the drop: only 38% of Americans report they received fewer robocalls during the pandemic than before Covid-19 according to a new Transaction Network Services (TNS) survey of US consumers conducted by global market research firm Kantar.

In addition, 45% of consumers perceive they receive more than five robocalls per day. And while consumer frustration is widespread, the survey reveals a dramatic gender disparity gap – females do not trust or want to receive robocalls or robotexts of any type, even if they are for legitimate purposes.

Key survey findings:

Americans are Fed Up with Political Robocalls and Robotexts

While political campaigns and causes rely on robocalls and robotexts to get out the vote and fundraise, Americans have little appetite to receive them ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

  • Only 3 in 10 of those surveyed don’t mind receiving legitimate political robotexts, while 42% don’t mind receiving legitimate political robocalls.
  • 79% of consumers believe all political robotexts and robocalls should be banned until there is a better way to filter those that are legitimate from those that are nuisance/scam.
  • 56% of Americans believe they have received a political robotext with misinformation over the past 12 months.
  • Only 37% of consumers feel it is easy to opt-out of political robotexts, similar to the 38% who feel it is easy to opt-out of political robocalls.

Consumers Want to Know Who’s Calling…and Why

The survey reinforces why US carriers are stepping up to meet subscriber demand for “branded calling” features that offer more incoming call information (brand logo, name, intent of call, etc.) that can help restore consumer trust in voice calling.

  • 43% of consumers still answer calls from unknown numbers for fear of missing an important call, which is why nearly six in 10 (59%) of those surveyed would answer a call if the caller ID displayed the logo of a brand they recognize.
  • 82% of consumers want their carrier to provide more caller information (brand logo, name, etc.) so they can make their own decision on whether to answer a call.
  • 77% of consumers want their carrier to provide more caller information (brand logo, name, etc.) to avoid missing legitimate robocalls (health, school, medication, etc.).

Consumers – Especially Female Consumers – Don’t Trust Robocalls or Robotexts

The survey reveals a massive gender disparity in attitudes towards robocalls and robotexts. Far more women than men don’t want, trust or engage with robocalls and robotexts.

  • 21% of females do not mind receiving robotexts from legitimate political campaigns and causes, compared to 40% of men who don’t mind receiving them.
  • 19% of females do not mind receiving robocalls from legitimate political campaigns and causes, compared to 42% of men who don’t mind receiving them.
  • Only 19% of women (compared to 38% of men) trust the content of robotexts more than they trust content and source of robocalls.

Bad Actors Served Up a Full Plate of Robocalls During Holidays

Bad actors don’t break for the holidays. In fact, they double down with seasonal scams such as fake charities, online purchases from Amazon and other retailers, and debt collection.

  • Nearly half (48%) of Americans received one or more robocalls/robotexts this past Thanksgiving Day.
  • 48% reported receiving a robocall or robotext during a holiday meal with their family or friends during a past year’s holiday gathering.
  • 45% of respondents believe they have been targeted by an Amazon online holiday purchase scam via robocall, robotext, email or weblink in the past.

“Our survey clearly highlights the depth of frustration that subscribers continue to experience with robocalls,” said Bill Versen, President, Communications Market at TNS. “But, more importantly, it reveals that consumers welcome the branded calling capabilities that provide additional caller information which allows consumers to block the calls they don’t want and answer the calls most important to them. By providing branded calling information, carriers will be well positioned to rebuild trust in voice calling and mobile texting.”

Global market research firm Kantar, on behalf of TNS, surveyed more than 1,000 US adults aged 18-64 between December 2-6, 2021. If you are interested in downloading a full copy of the TNS survey report, which includes detailed findings broken down by age, gender, region and other filters, please click here.