Monday, April 19, 2010
I discovered online surveys when K was about 6 months old, she took frequent naps and while I was encouraged to sleep when she did, I was unable to nap during the day. Television wasn't really an option, although it might have helped put me to sleep, my concentration was fried so catching up on my reading wasn't a possibilities. I did what every new mom does, I went to the Internet. After reading everything out there on the care and feeding of a baby I started exploring the vast Internet wasteland and somehow stumbled upon a site for all things bargain. Cool, just my kind of place. I learned about all the tricks to find bargains, coupons, free stuff, price mistakes, secret shopping, product testing and surveys. They were a way to kill some time, try new products and even make some money. I applied to the top rated survey sites and started getting emails daily. Some surveys were quick some were long and some ended with an invitation to try and test a new product. I loved those the best.
At any given point in time there was a myriad of products all over my house that had a "research only" sticker on it. I tested everyday items like make-up, shampoo, toothpaste, electric toothbrushes, toilet paper, moisturizer (high and low end), laundry detergent, body lotion, shower gel, lots of food products and a bunch of cleaning products, I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch of things. I also got to beta test a photo printer which I received after it was released to the public. Then I started Mystery Shopping, which was cool, I got to go to various food, dessert and coffee chains, eat for free and evaluate the place. If you ever thought food companies didn't care about what goes on in their franchises, think again. I also mystery shopped high end places for a nice lunch and got paid to do it. It got to be too much though, the companies would keep calling me and I had K to take care of as well. I did it for a while, not so much for the money but because it was fun and it gave me an infinite of pleasure to reward great service and punish the bad.
The surveys were even fun, a few clicks and I would earn points to turn into checks, gift cards or some cool rewards. Some of the surveys paid a lot, an invite to take part in an online forum once or twice a day for a few minutes every day for a week or two could get you $150, not a fortune but certainly worth a comment or two on a message board. I do that every day anyway, might as well get a pair of shoes or something out of it.
Once K was in school all of this stopped, I still got survey invitations and if I was bored I would fill them out, I also stayed on with the company that did cosmetic product testing, that was awesome! I still have point balances at a few of them, I'll be cashing those in this week before I forget. Maybe I can find something cool.
I got a new car back in August and filled out the satisfaction report with the dealer, I checked off the "do you wish to be contacted" box just for old times sake. Yesterday we got a call asking if I wanted to take part in an auto industry focus group, well yes, I certainly did. I went through the pre-qualification process and was asked to participate. They would require three hours of my time to look at, discuss and try out new features for a "well known automobile maker" and in return they would hand me a cash incentive for my time. Since I know who makes my car, I'm pretty sure I know the "well known automaker." Honestly, I would do this for free. I love to see what they have in store for customers and I am so picky I might be able to help out a fellow driver. Besides at least ten times I day I make some kind of statement about wishing someone would have consulted me when they built my car. This is going to be a dream come true for a former survey junkie. I'm pretty sure I'll be signing twelve kinds of confidentiality agreements so I need to write about this now, while I still can. Not that the product testing police would come after me but I like to honor my agreements.
Once I did a test for a new deodorant and I had to sign and return a three page document, then halfway through the test I got an urgent letter from the company asking me to please return any unused portion of the product in the enclosed Priority Overnight Fedex envelope when the test was complete. If I was unable to do this they would arrange to have the product picked up from my home. I was told under no circumstance should I throw the unused portion in the trash. Um, OK, I think that was a little much, especially for a product that was only average, and it was deodorant. Seriously, I highly doubt that corporate spies from Lever or one of those companies were camped outside my home just waiting for me to trash my unlabeled deodorant.
So anyway, that's what I did for fun for a while, I was able to try out some pretty cool products, have some free meals and voice my opinion on a number of subjects. I almost wish I had the time to do that now, it was kind of cool. I'm looking forward to the focus group tomorrow, if I were to go back to the original website that started this and wrote about tomorrow's group it would spin them into a frenzy. This is like the holy grail of surveys.
I hope I can teach them a thing or two!