Online Survey Tips

Understanding the Rules, Before Getting Mad

Angry Fist
Written by SurveyPolice

Many people come to SurveyPolice to leave feedback for their favorite and not-so-favorite survey panels. Getting feedback about a panel that’s from both sides of the fence is something we welcome, and provides a balanced perspective.

Sometimes, however, survey takers come to SurveyPolice and leave survey reviews where they vent about survey panels dragging their feet and not doling out rewards in a timely fashion. Although in some cases this is a perfectly legitimate concern, in many others, there is a misunderstanding regarding payment/incentive processing times.

Fact Check Before Reacting

Before getting frustrated about not receiving an incentive on time, double check the survey panel’s website to see what their policy is regarding processing times. You may be surprised to find out that it can often take up to a few weeks to receive your reward.

Where to Find Information Regarding a Panel’s Rewards Policy

  1. The Panel’s website FAQ – check here first, as it’s a pretty standard spot for panels to post this information.
  1. Terms of Service – if you can stand the legalese, you can often find a section entitled “redeeming points”, “rewards”, etc. where a panel’s policy regarding rewards is fully outlined.
  1. In the rewards section of your account – the section in which you can cash in your points for rewards may have a blurb about how long you can expect to wait. Sometimes after doing the cashout itself, a message will pop up to the effect that it will take x amount of time to get your reward.
  1. On SurveyPolice – browse a survey panel’s listing, and near the center of the page you will find a heading that says “rewards information”. Although not available for all panels on our website, there are plenty of panels listed here who have their redemption policy information listed.
  1. Ask the panel – e-mail the survey panel and ask them what their policy is on rewards. They may refer you to a page on their website or may clarify their policy in the e-mail.

Why It Can Take So Long to Get your Incentive

  1. Administration – this is a big one and typically the main reason for delays. Depending on a panel’s size and access to resources, it can take a while for rewards to be delivered. This may sound like an excuse, but depending on whether this is an automated process or not (believe it or not, some panels do this manually!), processing rewards can be a lot of time consuming work for panel.
  1. Survey is still open – a panel won’t typically award incentives for survey participation until a survey has closed. When a survey is still open for other panelists to complete, the project is still “in progress” so to speak.
  1. Eliminating cheaters – survey panels take the research they do seriously, and employ tools to eliminate cheaters and fraudsters who have multiple accounts, speed through surveys, etc. As a result, it can take some time to review data from surveys to ensure that it is of quality.
  1. Getting paid by the client – some panels have a policy where they won’t pay their panelists until they are paid by the client for conducting the survey. Although very rare that accounts become delinquent, it can happen.
  1. E-Rewards vs physical rewards – if you’ve request a gift card be mailed to you, it will almost always take longer to receive than receiving a digital e-voucher.

If It’s Been too Long

Follow up with the survey panel – remind them that they are overdue in awarding your incentive. The more details you provide, the better they will be able to help. Include your full name, copy and paste the surveys you’ve completed from your account info, and state when you made your request.

Tip! Keep your own record of the surveys you take with each survey panel you’re a member of. Log in to your SurveyPolice account and use our free online survey tracker tool to make this process easy!

Check out the panel’s listing on SurveyPolice – see if others are having the same problem. Your problem could be unique to you, or there could be a slew of other members who are having the same issue. If your problem is unique, it will mostly likely be resolved quickly.

If you get the run around, or no response at all, stop taking surveys, discontinue your membership and report the panel to the BBB. Do not continue taking surveys in the hopes that one day you will see payment…wasting your time with panels that are poorly managed is silly when there are many others who treat their panelists fairly.


It’s ok to get mad if you’ve been wronged, but don’t waste valuable energy getting upset over something that is a simple misunderstanding. Take the time to understand the rules regarding incentives, before reacting. Being on the same page as the survey panel you’re a member of saves everybody time and energy.

About the author


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