“Get Paid $150 Per Hour To Take Surveys,” the Web page reads. “Click Here To Learn The Secrets.”
Sounds great. In fact, it sounds too good to be true. So go ahead and click on that link. You’ll get a few paragraphs of sales pitch priming you for what, by now, you know will come later: the amount of cash it’ll cost you to learn the secrets.
“Regular Price 39.95 – Special Introductory Rate 19.95.” (It was probably never 39.95 to start with.)
You’ll get in return a list of companies that pay survey takers to take surveys. A compilation no better or worse than any that can be found on the Internet for free. In other words, it’s the information broker shell game.
The sellers do deliver the goods, though. Many Web sites make it possible to earn a lot more than $150 per hour, in the form of gift cards and / or merchandise, for taking surveys. Free gas for a year. (Wowee!) Just complete the survey and enter your contact information. But then . . .
Proceed to Step Two and you’ll find out the “gift” will not be forthcoming until you sign up for other offers displayed on the site; four from group A, three from group B, two from group C. The process begins to resemble a cellular phone plan. Asterisks everywhere. None of the offers are totally gratis. Free merchandise; you pay only shipping and handling. (Then it’s not free, is it?) Nickel and dime stuff you never knew you needed until you saw it. Turns out Group C is all big-ticket items like cruises and satellite TV subscriptions.
The whole site starts looking like a disclaimer, and it’ll cost you almost, if not more than, the “free” gift’s full value to qualify for it. One might assume the public would catch on. Yet these places don’t go away. Apparently, enough clickers make the cost of server space and site maintenance worth it.
Journalist H.L. Mencken once observed that “nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” And that was over eighty years ago. Well before the Internet.