Watch out for this 'high street store' survey
Filling in a survey to get freebies might sound tempting, but make sure you don't get caught out.
Like most lovemoney.com readers, I'm a fan of things for free. So I've a soft spot for website Offersoasis. It emails new offers and I've been sent everything from bike handlebar grips (in florescent orange) to detergent samples.
I always stick to companies that I know and shun “offers” with “competitions” or “prize draws", often involving premium phone lines or, even worse, high cost text messaging with no indication of the price.
I also avoid those that look like hard work – by my reckoning that means anything more than an email or a delivery address. So I don't do “surveys” or “market research”. These usually ask questions such as “when is your home insurance due for renewal?” and “which of the following charities do you support?”.
These have as little to do with genuine market research as my driving has with Formula One. I know completing these will just result in a torrent of junk emails or non-stop nuisance phone calls.
This week, there was an offer for a free 4gigabyte USB memory stick. It was not clear where it came from but there were 15,000 available. I would get a little advertising on the stick which I could delete.
All it needed was my email and delivery address. But no sooner had I completed these then I was switched to a site called surveys.co.uk. Decorated with the Argos logo, it offered the chance to win a £500 Argos voucher as an incentive but also a £5 shopping voucher simply for filling the survey.
I am not so naïve to believe I would win the £500 and I was sure the £5 voucher would involve a minimum Argos spend. But I started answering the questions anyway - although it soon become apparent that few, if any, had any connection with the Argos business or its need to research customer preferences.
All were designed as leads for call centres – and because I had volunteered to complete the survey, (I was ticking the boxes to try for the £500 or at least the fiver off my next Argos trip), I could not claim exemption from pest diallers under the Telephone Preference Scheme.
But as the trusted Argos branding was so strong, I continued. It was only at the very end I realised something was wrong. There was no Argos voucher but a variety of £5 free bets on gaming and bingo sites. This was absolute rubbish – I do not do this, while the offer could have been offensive to someone with a religious or ethical objection to gambling.
A second, closer, look showed that the survey had nothing to do with Argos, despite the use of its logo. Instead it came from Topfox, a brand involved with Magnetise Media, which offers website owners which advertise its surveys £1.10 for each completed questionnaire.
Argos is less than happy with the way its logo had been used.
It told lovemoney.com:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Our records indicate that Argos does not have a business relationship with Magnetise Media Group or their associated websites, topfox.co.uk and offeroasis.co.uk. Therefore, any promotional activity related to these websites that references Argos has not been authorised or endorsed by Argos.
Argos understands your concern that some customers may believe this promotional activity has been endorsed by Argos. We have therefore referred the websites to our legal department, who will investigate appropriate measures to remove Argos branding from such promotional activity.
Topfox/Magnetise has now clarified its website, which is continually changing, to make it clearer that it had bought a £500 Argos gift voucher in the same way as anyone else.
I know there is no such thing as a free lunch – or free anything else. But while I'll continue to try for free stuff when it's clear there no any catches, I'm not wasting my time on surveys again.
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