Paid Surveys: My Experience
I researched many online survey sites and subscribed to several. For the next two years I filled out several surveys a week. I wish I had kept detailed records so that for each survey company I could report statistics including the number of surveys I received, the number I was screened out of, the average time per survey, the average earnings per survey, and more. The only record I kept was a spreadsheet in which I recorded payments I received during a period of about two years. Those totals follow.
American Consumer Opinion $26.00 (4 surveys)
Brand Institute $0.00 (0 surveys)
Esearch $22.00 (5 surveys)
Global Test Market $95.35 (many surveys)
Greenfield Online $16.00 (many surveys)
MySurvey $60.00 (many surveys)
Opinion Outpost $50.60 (many surveys)
Survey Savvy $3.50 (2 surveys)
Technology Advisory Board $0.00 (0 surveys)
Total earnings for 2 years $276.45
I'll list the companies I joined and make some comments about each one. Since I didn't keep detailed records, these comments are my impressions based on memory. I apologize for any errors.
American Consumer Opinion
This is one of my favorite survey companies. I am still a member. They don't send me many surveys, but I often qualify for the surveys they do send, and they pay well.
I never qualified for one of their surveys. Their surveys always included a screening question asking if I had participated in any market studies recently. (I don't remember the exact wording or the time period they used.) I assume every survey is a market study, so I always answered yes. I was screened out of every survey.
I am still a member of Esearch. They don't send me many surveys. Occasionally I qualify for a survey and they pay me for my time.
Global Test Market
I earned more money from this company than from any other, but I also probably took more of their surveys. They sent me a lot of surveys, sometimes several per day. Overall I decided their surveys took more time than they were worth. I am no longer a member.
This company sent me a lot of surveys, sometimes several a day. Often the surveys redirected me to OTX, which wrote surveys that were incompatible with my browser. I am no longer a member.
Harris Poll Online
I didn't list Harris Poll Online above because the points they give you for completing surveys have no monetary value. Harris Poll points work like S&H Green Stamps used to work (for those of you from the US who are old enough to remember). There's a rewards catalogue from which you can choose items to get for your credits. I think Harris Poll Online was the first survey site I joined, many years ago. I am still a member. I don't think I have ever traded in any points.
I am still a member of MySurvey. They send me several surveys a week. The surveys are generally short and usually earn 10 points. Frequently, my answers to a short survey qualify me for a longer survey worth more points. A thousand points is worth $10.00. It takes a lot of surveys to earn $10.
NPD Online Research
I didn't list NPD Online Research above because they pay in points, which cannot be redeemed for cash (or products). The points you earn are only good to buy entries in sweepstakes that are always in progress. I have never won anything. I am still a member.
This company sent me a lot of surveys. I came to resent the way this company wasted my time. I cancelled my membership. Here's what happened the last time I received a survey invitation from Opinion Outpost. (I took notes.) I clicked on the survey link and was given several questions to answer on the first screen. After completing those questions I was given demographic questions to answer, one question per screen. After completing those I was asked a series of questions about health insurance. When I finished answering those questions I received a message saying their quota for the survey had already been filled.
This company pays you for referring people to Survey Savvy and for filling out surveys. That sounded good to me. Of course before I recommended them to anyone I wanted to do business with them for awhile to make sure they were worth recommending. In two years I was only able to fill out two surveys for Survey Savvy, worth $3.50. I never recommended the company to anyone. I am no longer a member.
Technology Advisory Board
They sent me very few surveys. I never qualified for one of their surveys.
1. Several companies require that you fill out the same classification data at the beginning of every survey. The data includes personal information -- age, gender, income, employment status, number of adults in household, number of children in household, country, state, zip code, and more. The companies should store that data, use it to determine which surveys to send you, and automatically use it in surveys as needed. The data is not secret if you're willing to give it. The question is whether you should have to give it once or over and over.
2. Some surveys have so many screening questions that you think you've almost finished the survey only to reach a screen that tells you you're not eligible for that survey. I found that survey behavior infuriating. It was not uncommon for me to spend 15 minutes answering questions only to then be screened out. Companies should store the screening data about you and not even send you surveys for which you aren't eligible.
3. Some surveys only work in Internet Explorer and don't let you take them in Internet Explorer if you've attempted to take them in another browser first. My default browser was Mozilla 3.72. When I'd click a survey link in an email Mozilla would open and the survey would give an error saying Internet Explorer was required. So I'd copy the link, open Internet Explorer, paste the link into the address bar, and the survey would give me an error saying I had already taken that survey.
4. Surveys crashed way too often. Sometimes surveys got stuck in error loops. Some surveys redirected me to another company conducting the survey. Some of the other companies I remember are BrainJuicer, Nielsen, and OTX, for example. All three of those companies crashed my browser more than once. BrainJuicer locked up my browser so often that I just stopped taking surveys when BrainJuicer was involved.
5. As part of a survey's screening questions, several companies started asking about the topics of surveys I had taken in the past so many weeks or months. There was no way to answer those questions without keeping a list of dates and surveys that I could refer to whenever I received a question about recent surveys. In a given week I might receive surveys about cell phones, automobiles, coffee, hotels, restaurants, grocery shopping, etc, but only pass the screening questions for one or two surveys. Without a record there was no way a week or a month later to know what surveys I had taken.
6. Occasionally a survey would let me make it all the way to the end and then refuse to accept my answers saying the session had timed out.
Copyright © 2009 by Jon Maloney