Yesterday while shopping in one of my favorite stores, a man with a clipboard came up to me and asked if I would mind taking a short survey. I had a choice, a brief 2 minute survey or a 5 minute one that pays me an instant $5 cash incentive.
Now $5 is not a vast sum by any means. However, since I stopped in for two inexpensive items, the $5 was more than 55% of my purchases. So I decided to go for the 5 minute survey. The man did ask my age and a zip code — but never took down my name or phone number. At the end he handed me $5 in cash!
These surveys are popping up more and more. El Pollo Loco will offer you $1 off your next order if you take a brief phone survey. If you shop at Rite Aid, you may notice on the bottom of your receipt a “How Are We Doing” phone survey. The incentive is a chance to win $10,000! But please note, you will have to give them your name, address and/or phone number. That could get you on their mailing list. I’ve taken one of these survey — so far, they haven’t sent me anything or called me. Unfortunately, they never called me to tell me I won $10,000 either.
Speaking of giving up more information, I do recommend a bit of caution. If you’re not careful about what information you’re giving out, you could end up on the mother of all mailing lists — or worse. Make sure the person taking the survey is affiliated with the retailer or center they are representing. I also would never take a phone survey from a “cold caller” that calls we up, rather than have me call them.
So next time you see a person with a clipboard come up to you inside your local mall or shopping center, don’t be afraid to check it out. Given the right conditions it could be worth your while.
FYI: On CNBC this week there is going to be a show “Supermarket Inc. a $500 Billion money machine” all about what information supermarkets collect on you and what they do with it. If you miss it you may be able to see it online. Check you local cable listings.