Saturday, February 25, 2012

Paid Viewpoint's Brave New World of Surveys

I recently mentioned Paid Viewpoint in my list of quick and daily earning sites, but I thought it really deserved a post of its own given that I've been spending more time there of late. What's particularly interesting about Paid Viewpoint to me is that it really seems to be trying to change the whole paradigm of online survey taking. They seem to recognize what survey takers find frustrating and annoying about surveys and have actively designed their site to provide a better experience for all.

The major issue that Paid Viewpoint fixes is the "screening problem." If you've ever taken surveys online, you know what I'm talking about. The simple fact is that the vast majority of surveys I get invited to I don't qualify to complete -- that's because market researchers often just want to poll very specific demographics. If I'm the wrong age, don't use a certain product, work in a particular profession, don't have a certain medical condition, etc I may not be eligible to complete a given survey. What's terrible about this system as it exists is that survey takers end up wasting lots of time on surveys that they get screened out of. Many surveys are poorly designed and force respondents to answer multiple questions before screening them out. I've spent 10-15 minutes on a survey before only to be told I don't qualify for it -- you just want to pull your hair out or start throwing things when that happens because you typically get nothing or next to nothing for the time you've just lost. Paid Viewpoint totally eliminates this frustration: you get paid to answer EVERY survey you're invited to. You also accrue money as you answer on a per question basis; your answers in a given survey may affect the number of questions you're ultimately asked, but you do get paid for every answer you give. It's a fair system which is very respectful of panelists' time.

As you might expect, Paid Viewpoint needs to create fairly sophisticated profiles of its users to match them with the right surveys. Indeed, you'll be asked to answer profile questions pretty much every day. On most survey sites, filling out profile surveys is just something you do in order to get more survey invites -- most don't pay you anything for filling them out even if they're quite long. (I suspect in practice this means that many survey takers don't actually bother to fill out profile surveys, let alone keep them up to date as their circumstances change.) Once again, PV has a better system: it pays you for answering profile questions in just the same way as it does for regular surveys (these are called "biz" surveys on the site). Answering profile questions honestly is a must -- every user receives a TraitScore based on their perceived trustworthiness which affects what surveys they're invited to. Still, even with all this profiling you do get to keep SOME privacy...they don't even make you give them your real name!

So, from my perspective, Paid Viewpoint is indeed building a better survey site...but that doesn't mean you should just join it and forsake all other survey sites! There are still a few advantages that the more established survey sites have over PV. For one thing, your earning potential on a traditional survey site is considerably more because Paid Viewpoint surveys tend to be short and to the point. From a time management perspective, it's great to make $0.30 answering a short multiple choice survey on Paid Viewpoint...however, you can make $1-$5+ per survey elsewhere if you're willing to put the time in that those surveys require. Paid Viewpoint also only pays via PayPal -- many other survey sites offer a choice in redemption methods. The referral system isn't the greatest, either; you receive a flat $1 bonus whenever one of your referrals completes 6+ biz surveys. So there will be no residual earnings based on your referral's further activity on the site and no earnings at all for referrals who quit before they reach that 6 biz survey mark. Another notable downside to PV is that they have a weird rule which punishes people who need to change their phone number or PayPal address. Changing either zeroes your other words, you lose all your earnings to that point! If you're like me, you don't change your PayPal address or phone number very often, but this rule still strikes me as unfair. Undoubtedly, this is a fraud prevention mechanism, but it has the potential to punish innocent people who have to change a PP address or phone number.

All in all, I'm really happy with Paid Viewpoint so far. I'll post another update when I cashout for the first time (hopefully that'll be in the next month or so)...however, I have full confidence that PV will pay since its sister site, Instant Cash Sweepstakes (which also specializes in short surveys), has paid me numerous times. Unlike ICS which only accepts US members, PV accepts users from all PayPal-supported countries.

Is Not Yet Ready for Primetime?

I've had only good experiences with PayPal so far, but that doesn't mean I necessarily want to see PP continue to dominate the online payments space. I've heard enough horror stories to recognize that it's never a good idea to have your eggs in one basket. Thus, I was thrilled when I heard American Express was releasing its own online payments solution,, last year. I was particularly pleased that a big and widely trusted company like AMEX was behind Serve since so many of the other PayPal competitors are fly-by-night operations -- it's hard to say whether the companies backing them are worthy of trusting with your financial operation or have the wherewithal to compete over the long-term. I was even more intrigued when I noticed Serve was bringing something new to the table, namely subaccounts which make transferring money to anyone from family members to employees to handymen a breeze. The beauty of subaccounts is the monitoring that they allow: you would be able to tell where your kid is spending his allowance money, what your roofer is spending on supplies, etc. Naturally, for everyday payments for goods and services you don't need subaccounts, but for very specific purposes it's a great concept. To top it all off, was (and is) offering a $10 bonus to everyone (US only...Serve has yet to go international) who starts an account with them. Naturally, I signed up as soon as I could!

Unfortunately, Serve isn't quite living up its early promise, at least not from my perspective. At this point, I've got $10 in a Serve account and a Serve debit card, but I feel like my account is in suspended animation for no reason. All I tried to do was link my Serve account to my bank account -- ever since I can barely do anything in my account without getting a message about my account being currently reviewed. My account has been in "review mode" for months. The message I'm getting says I can contact them if I don't receive an update, but I thought I'd use this circumstance as a way to test Serve as a service. Unfortunately, Serve is failing pretty badly so far -- I have my doubts that my account will ever leave review mode unless I contact them about my problem. In my opinion, I shouldn't have to...Serve simply isn't ready to compete with PayPal if it can't handle users linking their bank accounts to their Serve accounts. That's a pretty basic, everyday operation for a payment processor. I hope these account reviews (which, judging from Internet comments, seem to be quite common) aren't simply a way to keep people from withdrawing their bonus money. Most likely, Serve has been overwhelmed by signups and simply can't keep up with the volume of activity...that's really not a good sign for a PayPal competitor, either. Unless Serve cleans up their act, they won't be getting my business in the future.