Friday, 20 September 2019

Are Paid Surveys a Waste of Time?

In a nutshell, yes.

Online opinion polls and market research surveys exist that offer participants payment in return for time and trouble taken completing their questions.

Even classified advertising sites with job boards, such as Gumtree, include "opportunities" to "get paid for filling out surveys"; implying that they will provide a regular source of income.

And for those of us currently between jobs, even scratching our heads over new career directions, any chance to make cash that helps cover a few household bills here and there is appealing.

But does it all add up? What is the reality behind the fa├žade?

Below are my own three experiences.

Taylor McKenzie

Taylor McKenzie is a market research company based in Glasgow. I registered with them on the basis they'd send me market research surveys to fill out and then pay me in return.

However, I only ever received one item of work, a consumer products survey. The compensation offered was to have my name put into a prize draw where I might win £50 (very possibly in vouchers rather than actual money).

I received nothing else from them in the time I was signed up. So I decided to cancel my membership.

Opting out meant asking that they delete a mountain of personal data I'd had to supply them with initially. Thankfully, I received prompt confirmation that they had complied with that request.

From looking at the company website, and on the basis of the one survey they managed to send me, I got the impression they are interested in people who watch a lot of television and consume alcohol.

Even so, being offered entry into a competition in return for filling a shallow questionnaire seemed a soul-destroying waste of time.


Opinium was another company I signed up with. Despite having an online presence and some exposure in traditional media, I never received any work from them at all in the several weeks I was signed up.

I did note that they seemed to display a strong bias towards more "progressive" or leftist political values on the Twitter feeds of some staff members. It's difficult to draw any conclusion from that but that may be something to consider if you ever check them out.

Again, it seems no one is going to earn much if anything with this company - not enough to buy dinner for your cat let alone a sit-down meal for two at Greggs.


YouGov is the third one. I use present tense as I'm still signed with them.

They've been pretty good in sending interesting questionnaires in the couple of months since I first signed up. As well as consumer topics, such as perceptions of utilities companies or favoured brands of car, there are plenty of political and cultural questions.

But to be paid one must reach 5,000 points before being able to request payment, which would equate to £50 (i.e., 1p per point). So far I've banked just under £9 worth of points.

The very first survey was worth 150 points (£1.50). However, the usual rate of payment subsequently plummeted to a paltry 50p for 8 to 15 minutes spent on each job. This means doing almost 100 surveys before seeing a financial return.

Consider too that working for between £2 and £3 per hour (pro rata) means making well below national minimum wage. This hurts more for those of us who must maintain business accounts and file annual tax returns.

And even though YouGov does offer rewards of around £2 for each friend we sign up, finding 25 pals in return for a £50 recruiting fee would surely constitute an unacceptable degree of exploitation.

(I contacted the company's press department for their comment on the above concerns but as of yet have received no reply.)

But the company is far more in the public eye than either of the first two I mentioned and, as I said above, their polls tend to be more interesting than asking your favourite brand of lager or potato crisps.

There are online review sites where people complain about YouGov. Some said their payouts were processed excessively late and others even claimed that surveys just stopped before the 5,000 points bonanza could be reached.

Boasting 1.2 million participants in the UK alone, a cyclical projected payout of £60 million is probably a very heavy obligation for YouGov to meet.

Personally, I like filling the YouGov questionnaires and would even do some of their surveys for nothing.

The company seems to be reasonably well-balanced politically and I feel I have an avenue to counter those numpties who dare not to share with my viewpoint on an array of topics.

I've already jettisoned Taylor McKenzie and Opinium for being wastes of time. With at least 80 more surveys still to go before I see even an initial £50 payout, YouGov is now also on a much shorter leash - though that of course would mean they've had me fill out almost 20 for no pay.

No matter how desperate you might be to earn even pocket money, filling out these surveys in no way constitutes employment. Fact.


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