Friday, August 16, 2013

Survey says - No dryer sheets for you

One of the many ways I plan to achieve financial independence is by answering a few short questions. That’s what they want me to believe anyway. I’m talking about surveys – the kind where they promise cash, prizes, whatever you desire if you’ll just check off a few boxes. And that’s how it starts.

I have one email address that gets mainly junk mail. It’s the one I use for promotions, drawings, and recipes. The sidebar consists of about 15 custom folders filled with everything from exercise tips (here’s a tip – don’t try to do yoga while holding a laptop) to vacation ideas (notice I say ideas, not plans). It’s also the email that every type of survey ever imagined manages to filter its way into. I try to keep up with three different survey panels, and for a while I was doing pretty well, managing to pull in a few small checks and gift cards, a toaster oven (which has barely been used – should’ve held out for the automatic egg cooker) and even some hotel stay points. Unfortunately, opportunity has been slipping away lately. My inbox is overflowing due to lack of time and will continue to do so until after we bring YK to college next week (and since the countdown is now six days, you know that post is coming soon – I’m just trying not to drench my keyboard in tears before the weekend). Not that I expect to have plenty of time to do whatever I want after that – more likely I’ll use them as a distraction for those times when I’m tearing my hair out between visits to or from at least one of the girls.

Let me explain the survey process.

“Take this survey and earn points for cash and prizes,” they claim. I click on the little “Start” icon and it begins.

Question 1: Have you participated in any surveys in the last six months?

Answer: What? Of course not. I don’t care what your stinkin’ records show – I’m clean, I tell ya!

Question 2: Name the make, model and year of your automobiles.

Answer: Do they have to be running? Do I count the ’68 Torino sitting on the side of the garage with half a tree branch through the shredded convertible roof? This is getting confusing.

Question 3: Have you ever worked for any of the following types of businesses: Financial institution; Retail store; Department of transportation; Circus.

Answer: Yes, No, No, Every day of my life.

And then there are the surveys that lead you through 45 minutes of questions  (multiple choice, essay, you name it) only to inform you that you are not qualified for this survey – or better yet – to announce they have the sufficient amount of participants. Well of course you do! That’s because it took me almost an hour to get to this part!

Sometimes I try to play the game of giving the “right” answers – those being the answers I believe they are looking for. Nine times out of ten this backfires and I’m subsequently kicked out of the survey. But – but - I was sure when they said to “select all that apply” it would be more beneficial to check at least six out of eight different brands of dryer sheets that I would be interested in testing. How could this terminate my session?? Checking all eight would have been greedy, but I was trying to give them options, dangit!

I’ve also discovered that receiving cash for doing these surveys isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. My original intention was to put the checks into a special account to save up for vacations or something special we wanted to buy. Each time that $50 would appear in the mail the “something special” would wind up being pesky little things like groceries or gas. So I’m giving up the cash (that I never get to spend) and rewarding myself with gift cards to restaurants and stores that we like.

Seriously… who am I kidding - I’ll find out what the kids want and send the gift cards to them. Still, I’m sure I’ll get something out of all the time and effort I’ve put in to answering these surveys.

Like my own personal indentation on the sofa.

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