Online surveys seem like a good idea to earn a few quid. And so they can be. To be paid for your opinion on everything from cars, to utilities, holidays, supermarkets to TV watching habits. Easy.
Register, logon and up come surveys, several a week, each paying between 50p and £3 depending on time taken. However, as ever in the age of online security worries, there are pitfalls to look out for with some of the companies.
The Bad Guys
Many sites that claim to offer cash for opinions are actually fronts for scams. Best not to sign up for every site that advertises on the web, take a look at their clients, see if there are verifiable references too.
Take time to read their terms and conditions and look at their privacy policies too. The last thing you want is to be bombarded with unwanted advertising after a survey. What you say about a product, service or retailer should be guaranteed anonymous and not traceable back to you personally.
If a site demands some sort of membership fee upfront, avoid them. Beware the sites that require you to build up an impossibly high amount before you can get a payout. You shouldn’t have to give credit card or bank details to get payment, PayPal or similar third party is the favoured safe method.
The Good Guys
These do all the above correctly. Some will pay in vouchers instead of cash, and if shopping vouchers are your thing, fine. Amazon or Tesco vouchers are pretty useful and just as good as cash. Other companies’ rewards you might not want to buy from, so you don’t want any payment but cash.
Perhaps the biggest cheat of all to guard against is if they offer as your reward, ‘a chance’ to win some fantastic prize, like three weeks in the Bahamas, all expenses paid. Fat chance. Go for ready cash.
They usually email you with survey opportunities, and tell you roughly how long a set of questions will take. There is no compulsion to do it, no minimum number of surveys to fulfill. You will need to have sound enabled on your device, as many surveys show ads or play music and invite comment from you.
Often you are just ticking boxes, usually from a set of options they have predetermined. Sometimes they allow you to say you don’t know. There are occasional demands to spell out reasons for a particular response. WHY did you say you don’t like the ‘good with food’ advert from the Co-op?
The best have service centres or places you can log complaints, such as if their system freezes just before you reach the end of a long questionnaire, as happens sometimes.
Reputable British survey companies include MySurvey, PanelBase and Valued Opinions.
You’d think with all the programs available now, that once you log on they would know at once your age/date of birth, gender, domestic status, region you live in, which income and demographic bands you fall into? Well, no, they ask more or less the same information for every survey by way of starters.
They will ask a lot of generalised stuff, gradually to whittle down to the age groups, jobs or whatever they are looking for to complete a quota. They will then pose the screening (killer) question: such as, when are you planning to change your car? That will allow you to continue to the main meat they are really interested in. Or not.
Some questions are just stupid. If you have just said you do not know anything about a particular shop, say, they might then ask you to say what your impressions are of that shop?
You should be asked for your opinion on the survey at the end. Did it allow you to say everything you wanted to say? Was it interesting? Was it relevant to you? Was it too long or too short? And they might ask if the reward was fair for the time you have just spent?
That’s the hard one. If you like shopping, you should feel at home. But then, you might apply to be a mystery shopper and actually get to do it for real, instead of just responding to questions about it.
Oh and one last thing. Remember that any earnings from online surveys are just that, earnings. The taxman will want his share in due course, so don’t spend your rewards all at once.