Many months ago, I mentioned that I routinely refuse requests to take a survey unless I will be compensated for the information I’ll be providing, which is rarely the case. (I notice that many websites also ask me to take a survey so they can “better serve” me and of course I refuse those too.)
But for some months now, I’ve been giving lots of businesses my opinions. Because I am being compensated for my valuable insights. 😉
One of the hotel rewards programs I belong to invited me to join a survey program called eRewards. In exchange for participating in online surveys from all sorts of businesses, I receive e-dollars which can be converted to miles in many airline Frequent Flyer programs, hotel points, and discounts at two major department stores. The amount I earn for any particular survey depends on its length and whether I complete the “full” survey. And, I can limit (or not) how many offers a week I receive.
Obviously, businesses are not looking for the opinion of just anyone with a pulse. So each survey begins with screening questions. If I’m screened out, I earn a token amount…25 to 50 e-cents. If I’m screened in, then I earn anywhere from 3 to 8 e-dollars. Some surveys offer as much as 12 e-dollars.
Sometimes, it is easy from the screening questions to see what it takes to be screened in. If I want to take the survey, I just answer “correctly.”
For example, in one screening I was asked a number of questions about ED (Erectile Dysfunction). Had I been diagnosed with it? Was I taking medication for it? Was I going to ask my doctor about it at my next visit? It was very… hard 😉 to resist the temptation to screen myself into this survey but I decided to go… soft 😉 on them and answered honestly: I don’t need no stinkin’ Cialis! (Or maybe it was Viagara.)
Often, it is not easy to see what the screening questions are trying to identify. Last week I was presented with an opportunity to take a survey on “grocery shopping.” Since I make most of the grocery buying decisions, I thought I’d be good for this survey. (That’s right, Susie goes to the grocery with me for only two reasons: to push the cart and pay the cashier. 😉 )
The screening questions asked if I was familiar with dozens of brands. Some were “generic” (Pillsbury) and others were both generic (Kellogg’s) and specific (a specific Kellogg’s cereal). I had no idea what they were looking for, so I answered honestly and was screened in.
It turned out to be a very long survey about Yoplait, Activia, Cheerios and Pillsbury. Since I rarely buy any of these products, I didn’t have much opinion about them but they probably found the information useful for analyzing how to get me interested in those products.
I’ve noticed from the surveys I’ve taken that the manufacturers have a keen interest in psychological associations with their products. To my knowledge, I don’t buy based on psychological associations. With groceries, I’m looking at the labels to see how much protein, fat, salt, etc. products have.
If two cereals I like are about the same price, I go with the one that has more protein. So I tend to buy cereals such as Quaker’s Oatmeal Squares or Kellogg’s Special K, both of which have 6 grams of protein per cup. That’s two to three times what other cereals have.
So I’m a bit consternated (not to be confused with a condition which may require a laxative) when I’m asked whether I feel Yoplait is “down to earth.” On the other hand, based on those commercials with Jamie Lee Curtis, I just might feel that Activia is “snobbish.” (But the survey didn’t ask me that question.)
Similar psychological association questions were asked in surveys about tires and cars. Hey, I buy the cheapest tires I can find because I drive less than 7,000 miles a year and those tires often rot before the tread wears.
I bought a Corolla because it gets 30/40 MPG, not because it “makes a bold statement about me.” But with so many SUVs on the road, I guess a lot of guys buy them for psychological reasons. (I’ll bet half of male SUV owners need Cialis!)
A survey about an upcoming Sony pocket camcorder was very straightforward and focused on what I thought about specific features. I was enthusiastic about it until I was asked how much I’d be willing to pay for it and then learned my answer was half the projected price.
Another survey probed my familiarity with and use of Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Well, I’m a Google fan and Bing will have a hard time converting me. I did learn that Yahoo’s search engine is “powered” by Bing. They showed me a screen shot at the bottom of the Yahoo search results page which points that out. I didn’t know! (And I don’t care!)
A survey I was screened out of involved Chef Boy Ardee canned pasta products, a survey which a co-worker would have been perfect for because she loves that…“stuff.” I think their products are another word that begins with “s” so they should have screened me in to learn how to bring their…”s”…up to my standards.
So how much have I earned taking these surveys? Just under 60 e-dollars. Earlier this week, I converted some e-dollars into 500 points with USAirways, an airline I’ve not flown (on a paid ticket) in over 15 years. I once had so many USAirways miles that Susie and I flew free to London and Italy for a month in 1988 and then to Spain in 2006. (It was 30,000 miles each for London / Italy and 50,000 miles each for Spain.)
I still have a bit over 52,000 miles, which is currently enough for one more ticket to Europe (off-peak), which I hope to use for Amsterdam. But those miles expire after 18 months unless I have some “activity.”
Since I’m not flying them anymore, I’ve had to resort to minimalist actions – earning a few token points to keep my account alive. My last activity was about 15 months ago – I bought something from one of their “ participating merchants” program (and it’s a long list). I can’t even remember what I bought but it was about $25.
With this 500 miles “activity” in my account, those 52,000 miles are good for another 18 months. Not sure when we’ll get to Amsterdam. I’ve been trying to get us there for at least 5 years now. We almost went in 2006 but chose Spain instead because we had to travel in late September and October, which is getting cold in Holland but is still very pleasant in Spain.
I’m off to check my e-mail for another survey offer! If I can get those USAirways miles up to 60,000, I can get a ticket to Amsterdam anytime except “high” season and I avoid that anyway.