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Would you participate in focus groups and surveys - for $$$?

We've probably all been asked to participate in focus groups or to take surveys, but do you? Would you participate if they paid you?

We've probably all been asked to participate in focus groups or to take surveys, but do you? Would you participate if they paid you?

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We've all received the phone calls asking us to participate in a survey, and depending on my mood or time constraints, I may or may not oblige them. Most of the time, however, I just cut them off early, tell them I don't have the time, and hang up. (But during a political season, I might participate in short ones because I like to mess with them, giving them wrong or misleading answers.)

I remember years ago when I found myself on a list of being someone who would consider participating in focus groups, and in this case it was facilitated by a couple of different marketing companies that actually paid the participants for their time. It would usually take 30 minutes to an hour, and they would pay somewhere in the $50 to $75 range. I would usually get a call once a year or so, and depending on the circumstances, I may or may not have participated. But during one stretch of about six months, I was actually asked to participate in about three of them, all focusing on printers and plotters. I actually benefited from those in more ways than simply earning some extra cash because the products being discussed were ones that I might be purchasing myself. It actually enlightened me a bit on new products.

For some reason the calls stopped, and I wasn't asked to participate in anything for probably five or six years, maybe longer. (Time flies much faster, it seems, the older one gets.) I'd still get the phone call surveys, which I'd almost always take a pass on, but the invitations to participate in paid focus groups pretty much stopped.

A couple of months ago, however, I received a call that I almost abruptly hung up on, but the caller was enticing enough to tweak my interest. In short, I was invited to participate in a one-on-one focus group (or focus session), and I was told that the only thing they could reveal about the subject matter was that it was limited to people who provided computer and user support in a small corporate environment. I was told that it would take no more than 45 minutes, and the fee paid would be $200 -- in cash. The location was close enough to my home, so I decided it would be well worth my time.

This was probably one of the more interesting ones I've ever done. I was asked about how my network was set up, how I installed software, how I handled backups, what kind of hardware I was using, how old my hardware was, and other questions along those lines. In a way, it was actually an exercise that forced me to evaluate how I was doing things and how I might do them better. In the end, I surmised that the survey was for the purpose of developing or promoting a new product that facilitated the wide-scale deployment of software upgrades over a corporate network, since all questions pretty much led in that direction.

In the end, it was very interesting, it created a bit of self-evaluation, it took only about 30 minutes, and I was paid $200 for my time and trouble. Not too bad.

I know a lot of people might be quick to dismiss such a request, but if you're ever faced with one yourself, you might want to give it some consideration. After all, it's really no more than participating in a company's market research project, and not only could it earn some extra cash for you, but your opinion just might steer their products toward your real needs.

Or perhaps you have participated in such things. Take the poll, and leave your comments

And please leave your thoughts and comments in the following discussion -- either good or bad.

As an afterthought, in times that might be financially challenging to a lot of user support professionals, doing an Internet search for paid focus groups might give you some ideas on how you, too, can earn a few dollars by simply sharing your opinions.

56 comments
techporvida
techporvida

Yes. I've done them before and I hope to help my own situation by steering software and hardware companies in the direction tech support needs them to go. Mostly not putting out patches and updates that add fluff but not much content. The $$ is great and it's the best incentive for an hour of my time - like most techs I don't have much of it -- especially if you work in a law firm. :)

philw19642002
philw19642002

Ooo Yes I would love to take Paying surveys!! Many on the internet shows you how much money in your account but neversend it to you!! Know what I mean? Thanks A Lot Phil

Randy.Cartwright
Randy.Cartwright

I have participated in many in the past, but never had the opportunity for cash. They were, select a gift, which was nice, but cash would have been better. I have no problems in giving my honest opinion for research, I just don't want it to turn into my email address being sold for marketing. I believe many quit giving merchandise or cash, simply because they can find enough of us, that would complete a survey for free.

spiner57
spiner57

Me too,I never got paid but if it is a subject of interest, I might make an exception.

hanekhw
hanekhw

I've found focus groups to be worthwhile despite the annoyance factors such as scheduling time and the travel. I have feeling vendors are going to rely more heavily on them in the near future as their fear factor increases with the tough economic climate.

tomshotcash
tomshotcash

No, I wouldn't participate in any of these surveys for any amount of money.

doug.hancock
doug.hancock

ABSOLUTELY! I was 'on a list' in the mid '90's and did four or five of these. They were always fun, interesting, and lucrative. (Two of them were the 30 minutes for $200 type) I would love to get on another 'list', every one was well worth using up some personal time for! Highly Recommended!

fred.wagner
fred.wagner

I was invited to a number of paid focus groups - dealing with flat panel displays, useability of a new web page designs, best person photo to go with advertising text, etc. They were very interesting, and I felt that the group's input really did help the sponsor (sometimes you could decipher who it was, but most of the time you couldn't). The pay was as much as $100, and if invited again, I'd accept.

techtalk
techtalk

I had similar experiences to yours, not getting called for paid focus groups for a long time, and then recently when I have been called up for them they're invariably in downtown chicago, quite a ways from home - and definitely not worth it. If it was near my home as yours was, I'd probably do it. Being suspicious by nature however, and with info security being part of my job, I would be very concerned about the focus of the questions. I would not feel comfortable revealing in too much detail about how my office configures our networks, backups, security, firewalls, and etc. Am I just paranoid? Be curious to hear others' thoughts.

jack_whitt75
jack_whitt75

Anything that makes you examine what and how you do things versus how others do them is of value. Cash in the pocket can't hurt either.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I've been paid as much as $150 for less than 2 hours of my time. So has my wife. I find them interesting, because I like looking for flaws in their methodologies when they are trying to figure out what I am thinking or want. Also, I like the idea of directly influencing products and services. I'd like to think I've been involved in killing some really stupid ideas, as well as encouraging some that I'd really like.

dion.shaw
dion.shaw

Have participated in a number of focus groups in Chicago. Worth doing these for 3 primary reasons: 1) Learning about new and upcoming technology (had blade servers while still being developed, SAAS products) 2) Networking with other IS/IT pros 3) A couple hundred extra $$ never hurts!

2gigob
2gigob

I had a friend who ran these focus group studies back around 2002 - 2004. I probably made nearly $1000 a year extra doing these things. They were great! I participated in focus groups ranging from steaks to mp3 players. However, what made it easy for me was knowing somebody who I trusted being involved on the other end. Plus it was on my way home and they typically paid well. I really enjoyed the experiences. I also do online surveys that accrue points that I can redeem for gift cards. I do enough to get one gift card a quarter to a game store. I won't do them for free, my time is too valuable :)

helpdeskdude
helpdeskdude

I did one a few months back, the guy said he would send me $50.00 if I would take the survey. It took maybe 3 or 4 minutes answered about ten questions. Then about three weeks later I got this check in the mail. I took it to the bank and asked if it was real. The teller left and came back and handed me 2 twenties and a ten. SWEEEEETTT!!! I'll do it again! For $50.00 I'll do almost anything... LOL :) ALMOST!! LOL

AT Computers
AT Computers

I believe surveys are really scams, why? I've been offered several times to take a survey and recieve a free laptop. Every time I start a survey, you answer some personal questions, then the next page you have to pick and purchase at least 1 of their sponsors, next page you have pick and purchase at least 2 of their sponsors, then the next page requires you to pick and purchase at least 3 of their sponsors. Then all of a suddens your answering questions again, then it starts all over, you have to pick and purchase at least 3 of their sponsors. It's a never ending survey, I did this for 2 hours to recieve a New Dell Laptop and Never Recieved my Laptop. I was scammed into purchasing the Survey Websites Sponsorship Ads and never recieved the product being offered for taking the Survey! Three weeks later I spend several hours cancelling over $1,000.00 worth of orders from the Survey's Sponsors. I WAS SCAMMED INTO THINKING I WOULD GET A FREE LAPTOP!

rob mekel
rob mekel

As I do participate in surveys/discussion groups and yes sometimes it are paid ones. I get more selective on the items that are discussed. So my vote for (other, please explain) this is just to give a more insight info on the what and why. In fact my vote should count at the "yes and would again" item. :)

buddhan08
buddhan08

the most surveys are scams and they don't pay. It is waste of time.

DMambo
DMambo

I took one for the $100 "honorarium" and never recieved payment. I would not trust Forrester Research. I e-mailed the person who initially contacted me and got no reply. I guess I was not in their target group.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

James brought up a good point; in stating that if they are asking you about when you're looking to purchase, you've gone from a true research survey to a prospecting pitch. In that case, a time share presentation becomes more palatable!! However, I have done quite a few surveys. Usually, they seem to center on the viability of a certain product in a given segment (when I worked for a health care firm, I received more calls than at any other time...lots of HIPAA and Hospital-ergonomic related surveys). Also, there is a site called eRewards that does online surveys. At first, I thought it was total bunk...but the questions seem reasonably legit, and the rewards are valid (usually enough to take care of all my FTD needs for the yea, at least).

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

They are often fun, they give you money and usually free booze as well. You get to see a great cross-section of people on differing topics. In the "pre-ring" days I even got a couple of dates out of them. If they are easy to get to, and there is no hassle parking, and you have nothing else on .. why not? :)

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

But I have done these in the past and will again. More for the way that they help you evaluate the way you currently do things as this isn't always th best way forward. It's none the less good to have a multitude of possible ways to proceed forward. Though I must add I don't do it for the Money and have volunteered my time freely previously and will no doubt do it again but getting some payment is nice. :) Col

Jacky Howe
Jacky Howe

What no links Joe. I need to do something to supplement an income. I just might have to look into it.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Re the original blog piece: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/helpdesk/?p=375 I know a lot of people might be quick to dismiss such things, but if you're ever faced with one yourself, you might want to give it some consideration. After all, it's really no more than participating in a company's market research project, and not only could it earn some extra cash for you, but your opinion just might steer their products towards your real needs. Or perhaps you have participated in such things. Take the poll, and leave your comments And please leave your thoughts and comments in the following discussion - either good or bad. As an after thought, in times that might be financially challenging to a lot of user support professionals, doing an Internet search for paid focus groups might give you some ideas on how you, too, can earn a few dollars by simply sharing your opinion.

philw19642002
philw19642002

If they willtruly pay for my efforts I would love to be a part of this. Sincerely, Phil Whisenant

sgthomas
sgthomas

Never, never, never! Simply because the companies doing the surveys are paid boocoo bucks for the results. It's all part of the advertising budget. No payee...no sayee!!! LOL The 'contests' are a gimmick too. Let them save money at someone else's cost...not mine. Time is money!

Joe_R
Joe_R

Subject of interest and $$.

sgthomas
sgthomas

I've been to quite a few locally and they've never asked me divulge anything personal besides my tastes/choices/opinion. If they had, I would simply tell them that was 'private' info and I'm in no position to discuss it. Never came across this problem though. However, on-line 'surveys' are not something I'd do anyway...

Joe_R
Joe_R

They are interesting. And to get paid in the $150 to $200 range for a couple of hours - or less - of our time makes it worthwhile. The $200 I mentioned was the most I've ever been paid, and it was for less than an hour.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks for posting

Joe_R
Joe_R

The reputable ones will indeed honor their payment promise, and they usually target those in the industry. What you describe is an on-line survey - the kind that's an obvious attempt to sell something or harvest personal information. I'd never do any of those - not even for the promise of a million dollars because I was the millionth visitor! Those things are nothing more than phishing expeditions.

sgthomas
sgthomas

Awww...c'mon...you are a grownup, aren't you? A laptop for a 'survey'? Oh well...

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

What you did wasn't a survey at all, but a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. And if they want to you purchase anything, then you should know it's not a real survey.

bryantc
bryantc

OK, let me take this to a different level. I have taken surveys, usually online and occasionally by phone and I have always refused to answer specific questions about my network, phone system, etc. The two times I have been offered money resulted in me refusing the money the first time. The second time was interesting in that they gave me a web link to donate to a charity. I gave the link to one of my employees as a thank you for a particular task he had performed above and beyond. I will not give out info about my network because I do not want to make it any easier for someone planning an attack. Maybe I'm too paranoid but I have not been able to see why specific info on my network will "help" the survey company determine how their product will work better.

Saskatech
Saskatech

I actually do the IT for a market research company. I would and have participated in the past for money, it all depends on the organization. If you are in Canada and the research firm you're working with is MRIA certified then you can trust it. The MRIA is an overseeing body that holds all market research companies to a certain list of standards, if you do not meet all standards, or are found violating them you are removed from the organization. As I read above someone did a focus group only to not be paid the $100, that would turn me off of them too. But if that group were a member of some sanctioning board you can't imagine how quickly they would be thrown out.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks, Col.

Joe_R
Joe_R

[i]......doing an Internet search for paid focus groups might give you some ideas on how you, too, can earn a few dollars by simply sharing your opinion.[/i] Sorry, I can't endorse or recommend anyone. Besides, they've always contacted me, not the other way around.

USBPort1
USBPort1

I've participated in many studies, surveys, and focus groups for pay over the past several years and have made several hundred dollars doing so. But beware, some groups do not follow through with promises. About 4 years ago I had a phone survey and was promised a brand new licensed copy of Windows XP Pro for taking the survey. It was from a really large Tech info company (which will remain nameless) and the survey took about an hour. The survey taker took all my contact info at the end and I never received anything. About a year later they called for another survey and I told them even though they were a large Technology info company, because of them not paying me for the previous survey that I would never do another for them again. Fortunately that's only happened a few times. Most Tech survey companies are good at paying you for your time, albeit a little slow. I also do free surveys when they aren't too time consuming just to pay back all those who have helped me along my way through the years.

luv2flutterby78
luv2flutterby78

I'm curious why you put so much detail about the subject of the surveys and focus group you participated in. I'm a member of a few select panels and they are very strict about what you are allowed to talk about. It seems to me this is standard. You aren't supposed to post anything online, email anyone or talk to anyone in regards to the subject matter that is discussed. It seems you violated that in your article? As for my opinion about these types of things, I find them very rewarding. I realize I am giving a company my time and opinions for "free" but I have no problem with that. The panels I am part of are very upfront about that and they gear their surveys to make your experience as entertaining and interesting as possible. In return they give points which you can redeem for rewards and entries into draws for bigger substantial prizes. Some of them provide valuable coupons and samples of products and some of them do provide small cash honorariums. My opinion is that, for the most part, these companies work to make the experience interesting for you if you are the right kind of person for this type of thing. The more you participate and the better of a panelist you are, the better your rewards.

jck
jck

If I could find enough per month to make $5 for a 10 minute questionnaire, I'd be happy to sit home all day in my shorts and do it.

AzWiz
AzWiz

I used to take all of those surveys the mags would send you, plus the phone call, plus the email, etc. Then, I thought about it. These guys are making money off of information I am providing for free!! DUH So, I when I receive a survey call, right after they say it will only take xx minutes, my response is "how much will I be paid for my time and information?". About 1 out of 10 will offer some sort of honorarium. I have several now that I regularly participate in. 2 online, 1 via mail (product testing), and an intermittently in person focus group. Hey, it's interesting, you meet different types of people, and a few bucks for your effort.

heartfax
heartfax

There are many kinds of surveys. Some start as low as $5 or nothing but a free burger. If you think that nobody would be interested in getting $5 or less you might be mistaken. There still is competition and there are always hungry people. Surveys cover anything from food, cell phones, companies, to IT. Just always read the fine print before you take up a survey and agree to the compensation. Think about the time involved. If it's worth your time and effort I would say I'd do it. But beware if it's too good to be true it's usually a scam such as big rewards or products give-away, unless you have participated in surveys done by the same survey company before, so you have a track record of their payment practices and reputability. Some survey companies don't want you to participate in too many surveys because of tax complications such as to have to give you a 1099 and all that if you're paid more than a certain amount. And somehow these survey companies have their own information circle or database where they can get information as to who they can use and are eligible for what kind of survey. Also beware of scams that go through the net wanting you to do money transfer surveys. Anything that requires you to put up money don't do it. I've done surveys of all kinds and would do them if the surveys are reasonable, worthwhile and legit.

kgunnIT
kgunnIT

My wife signed us up for a gig with Red Robin recently. We were called and asked to participate in a focus group for some new burgers they were coming out with. We got to try a quarter of 6 burgers (a total of 1 1/2 burgers, enough for a full meal), all of which were very good. We answered a few questions about each burger, discussing what we liked, would we order it, or what would we change about the burger. In the end, we each were given $25 gift card. My wife and I got a free meal plus $50 in gift cards to Red Robin. I would participate in more focus groups if they paid or if I could get something out of it. I don't have a problem giving my opinion on products or services.

wolfshades
wolfshades

I go to focus groups fairly regularly. But the thing is: they don't like it when you attend too many of them in a year. If you're on more than one data research roster, and they find out you've been to too many focus groups, they'll cut you off completely. Which is likely what happened in your case.

JamesRL
JamesRL

What I have found from years of experience is that some focus groups are more like prospecting sessions. Instead of picking your brain on what the industry needs, they want to see how much you might need their new hot product. I'm not ok with that, so I am fairly careful. Having worked at one time in the survey/opinion research field, I can smell the bad ones. But I have no issue providing opinions for the purposes of pure market research. In fact I sometimes conduct such research for my own company. James

bkrateku
bkrateku

I work for a bank and I don't answer any of those type of questions, either. In general, I don't take any surveys with exception of those sent out by a few vendors about support calls we have made and the like. Like you said, there is nothing about our network setup that I could see helping them make there product better...at least not the detailed setup. Security through obscurity may not be fail safe, but it is one layer of defense.

Jacky Howe
Jacky Howe

I might look into it. A bit of research will give me something else to do. You never know I might just find something.

Joe_R
Joe_R

In the one I described, I had no such agreement to not discuss it. But I included the detail because some people might be interested to know. I, too, find them worthy of my time. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

menehune22
menehune22

Take a look at the sponsored links all around the reply's page. A share of these are scammers looking for valid email adresses to sell to the spammers. I have responded to the emails promising a free laptop or a free Xbox 360. They lead you on a maze of surveys, trying to entice you to buy unnecessary items along the way. In the end you never get the promised item(s). Greenfield and NPD are two reputable companies that offer surveys for $$ or entries into there monthly prize drawings. One needs to be aware of the suggested time to take the survey, some are very lengthy.(20 minutes or more)

johnr
johnr

I view surveys with the same suspicions - but without any prior knowledge of the field I reject them all - especially if money is involved. I am already paid for my time and feel an obligation to do company work with that time.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Would you mind sharing some insight on how we might identify the bad ones? That thought ceossed my mind when I wrote the piece, and I was hoping someone might be able to share some insight in that regard. Thanks

amado.puentes
amado.puentes

In a complex intercommunication environment, surveys are a great service and barometer to find out what the real people think about a specific topic, product, service, etc. To get paid for your opinion makes it that much more important, because it give you the incentive to be honest about your response. Amado Puentes.

Joe_R
Joe_R

You provided some good information.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Is - are you making any purchasing decisions in the next 6 months. Thats a sign that someone is looking for leads. The questions about whether you are a decision maker or an influencer can also be an indicator. I never ever ask those questions when I am doing research. I am looking for opinion, and I recognize that buying decisions are usually a process that involves a number of people, not the perogative of one person. James

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