Dealing with Survey Problems

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Howard is a 54 year old white male from Jacksonville, FL.  He spent 27 years in the US Army and retired as a Master Sergeant in 2004.  He has participated in survey panels since January 2009.  He enjoys fishing, tropical climates, and playing with his 2 tabby cats for fun.  Sports, beer, and a laid back lifestyle are his passions.

If you belong to many survey panels and are actively pursuing survey opportunities on a daily basis, you are going to occasionally have some problems.  Is it frustrating to be removed from a survey panel or lose some of those valuable points that you worked hard to get?  You bet it is. What actually just happened? Do I have the right attitude to successfully resolve my problem?  Are you stymied about what you should do next?  I think we all are at times, so today I’d like to explore some infrequent, but perplexing problems that do occur while taking surveys.

I’ve been fairly successful in my 4 years of taking surveys.  Does every survey experience work out the way I want?…. Not always.  I’ve been removed from 4 of my favorite panels.  Some surveys have had technical problems.  My survey invitation link might not work or the survey’s web-pages could load so slowly that a 10 minute survey takes me 45 minutes to complete.  I could get 15 minutes into a 20 minute survey and get stuck because the webpage doesn’t allow me to advance any further.  I could complete a long survey and upon completion be re-directed to the home site of the survey sponsor, not my survey panel.  I attempt to re-sign into my survey panel, but I can’t because they are down for maintenance.  These are all examples of infrequent problems that I have encountered.  If you take enough surveys, you’ll probably have some similar experiences.

How do I find the silver lining in these situations?  How do I deal with that frustration that these problems manifest?  What is the adult attitude to resolving these issues?  What customer service avenues are available that will help me?

Let’s discuss frustration first because it has to be dealt with and removed from the situation to get a positive resolution.  Sometimes I get up and walk away from the computer when I get really frustrated.  When I’ve calmed down, I’ll start dealing with removing the frustration from the issue by doing a cost benefit analysis.  Should I quit a survey panel over a $2 survey?  Should I spend 3 hours of my time complaining about a $1 survey experience?  Do I have realistic expectations? What actually occurred and what is the problem? Who is at fault?  Maybe nobody is.  When I focus on the details of my problem, then I’m letting my frustration go and I am not allowing my negative emotions to do something that I’ll regret later.  Once I get my emotions under control, then I focus on my attitude.

It may be a cliché, but having a positive attitude is usually the best approach to resolving most problems.  Keep things in perspective and not from just my point of view.  I must accept that my schedule doesn’t always match everyone else, nor is it important to them.  I have to realize that sometimes other people with my demographics are taking the same survey I am and only one of us will get credit for completing that survey.  Am I valuable to this survey panel?  Of course I am.  But so is everyone else taking surveys with that survey company.  Now that I’ve got my attitude adjusted, I’m ready to start solving my problem and patiently wait for the results.

What problem solving tools are available to me?  Most survey panel dashboards or homepages have an icon for customer support that will take you to a new webpage.  There almost always are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) available.  This is always a good place to start.  They help you determine if you have a problem and what this survey panel can and will do to help you fix the situation.  Once you have determined your course of action, gather all your facts.  Mentally review what happened.  If at all possible find the survey number or title and the topic of the survey.  If you got a survey invitation in an email, that information should be apparent and some survey companies allow you to respond to that email with queries.  Some don’t, so go to their site to request support.  Many survey panels have member’s survey history on their dashboard and this may be the only place to find the details.  Worst case scenario, even if you can’t locate the survey # or name, you still know what date and time you took it, and the topic of the survey.

Now, I’m ready to politely ask for help.  I have to remind myself that the person that I’m contacting probably had nothing to do with why I had a problem.  I like to use the “help me, help you” approach.  I’d love to continue participating in your surveys, but I’m unable to.  If there are not enough qualified survey takers, then no one gets paid, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to resolve valid problems.  Many times, I’ll contact a survey panel just to let them know that a particular survey has a glitch. Most survey panels have excellent support and are able to resolve problems quickly.

I always try to stick to the facts when I’m explaining my problem.  Start with survey details and then concisely explain what the problem is; what happened.  Try to organize your facts in a logical step by step explanation.  Try not to overwhelm them with your opinions.   I’ve found that it is best to leave emotions, especially negatives ones, out of my request.  The terms of agreement, to most survey panels, tell you that anyone can be removed from their panel at their discretion.  If I complain loud and hard enough then I might not be the type of panelist the company is looking for.  I’m not a finite commodity.  There are many other people, with my demographics, on most established survey panels.  I always try to end my request on a positive note.  I like to thank them for their excellent support before they have even helped me yet.

Here are two examples of this technique, along with the responses I got from the survey panel support.

An error from Opinion Outpost, and the reward added to my account.


and my request when MySurvey's site problems kept me from being rewarded, along with their response indicating my account had been credited:


Once I’ve submitted my support request, I patiently wait for a response.  What is a reasonable time to wait?  Most survey panels will respond within 24 to 48 hours with a resolution.  Sometimes it may take 7 to 10 days to get an adequate response.  You might want to check out that survey panel’s Facebook page to see if other panelists are experiencing similar problems.  Sometimes problems are brought to the survey panel’s attention that they were not aware of with this method.

I'd mentioned before that I had been removed from four of my favorite panels. Here's the good news: I was reinstated to all four panels because I followed my resolution process. Here's the reply I received from SurveySpot during one of those reactivations, with an explanation of how to keep it from happening again:


I don’t really experience many problems, but when I do I would like to get some satisfaction resolving them.  I can’t be frustrated when I’m asking for help because I’ll probably offend someone.  So once I’ve adjusted my attitude and gathered my facts, I’ll ask for help.  I’ve had pretty good success resolving my infrequent problems by being courteous and asking for help in a respectful manner. Hopefully some of these ideas and techniques can help you too.

What techniques do you use to resolve problems? We'd love to hear your comments! Leave them below!

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Comments (3)

  • Crowdology USA September 20, 2013 Reply
    Really great article Howard. As an employee of an online panel, it's really important to have good communication with our panellists as this helps resolve problems swiftly.
    If a problem is explained in detail it is usually quite easily dealt with.
    • Micheline October 09, 2014 Reply
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  • Jorge May 16, 2013 Reply
    I simply use my breathing.taking deep breaths through my nose brings me back to selfrealization. as i learned from yoga being aware of my breathing makes me identify the emotion i'm experiencing at that present time and permits me to look at it in a more logical calmer way