Advantages Comparatively well rewarded, payment for screeners
Disadvantages Can only join through links from other sites.
If you've ever read a newspaper article that begins with the words "According to a recent survey…", then the chances are, you'll be familiar with the initials TNS as the source of the information you've just digested. TNS, or Taylor Nelson Sofres, to give the company its full name, is a leading market research group, which operates in 70 countries worldwide. MyTNS.com is the name of the online consumer panel through which much of the company's research is carried out. Residents of France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom are eligible to participate, each country having its own separate panel.I joined the UK panel last summer, and in retrospect, I probably couldn't have chosen a worse time to do so. The site was about to undergo a major overhaul, and while they continued to send out survey invitations during this period, they were unable to update members' accounts with points earned. Chaos reigned for several weeks, forcing them to close the site down temporarily until the backlog had been cleared. Happily, those problems were eventually overcome, and things have been running smoothly now for some time - long enough for me to feel confident enough to write about the site.
I joined the panel through a link from another survey site, and it's still the case that membership is by invitation only. That said, it isn't as difficult to join as it sounds - a number of TNS surveys are routed through other sites, and since becoming a member, I've had several invitations to join the TNS panel, most of them through Test and Vote. Naturally, you can't hold more than one account, but other household members are permitted to become members, as long as they have a separate e-mail address. (My husband, who has no interest whatsoever in such things, declined the offer!) If you get the opportunity to join, however, it's well worth taking up, since I've found MyTNS to be one of the more active sites around.When you apply to join, you'll need to give a few basic details, after which you'll receive a welcome e-mail asking you to complete a final registration form. Once you're officially a member, 100 TNS points will be added to your account. Whereas European members can exchange their points for euros, UK members will be awarded Nectar points - 1 TNS point equals 1 Nectar point. Your accumulated points are converted to Nectar points and credited to your Nectar account once a week. Don't worry if you don't already have a Nectar account, because you can open one via the MyTNS site, although Nectar will require parental consent before they'll operate an account for anyone aged 15 or under. If you'd rather donate your points to charity, you can do this from Nectar's website, and the monetary value will go to the NCH children's charity, which Nectar supports.
Most surveys start with the inevitable screening questions to determine your suitability, but the difference here is that you'll invariably earn a nominal amount of points even if you don't fit the bill. Not many, but it's better than being kicked out with nothing after you've spent five or ten minutes baring your soul, only to be told that they don't want your opinion after all. Points for those you do complete vary according to the complexity of each survey, but a common figure seems to be 230 points for a 10-15 minute questionnaire. To give you some idea of their value, 500 Nectar points will allow you to spend £2.50 in Argos or Sainsbury's, for example, so the average survey will earn you just over £1.I've taken part in numerous surveys (and been rejected for quite a few more), on a diverse range of subjects, including chewing-gum, mobile phones, household cleaners and radio stations, to name just a few. Most of the surveys' subject matter is interesting, but I have to say that some of the questions are very repetitive - the good thing is that most of the surveys are reasonably short, so it isn't as tedious as it sounds.
From time to time, you might be invited to take part in a diary project, something which MyTNS seems to conduct on a regular basis, and I've just completed a seven-day soft drinks diary, for which I'll receive a total of 2,000 points (230 per day plus a bonus for completing the project). I must confess that it became a little boring to keep having to explain who was in the room when I drank my water, what I did whilst drinking it and what size carton my orange juice came in etc, but in fairness, it took no more than ten minutes each day to complete, and I think the payment is very fair for such a small amount of effort.It's a very honest and fair site overall, in fact and I've already mentioned the screener payments for some surveys, which generally range from 35 to 70 points. Like many sites of this kind, MyTNS occasionally experiences technical problems during surveys, and there was one occasion, during a TV diary project (again, a reasonable payment for a few minutes work each day), when one of my days' entries failed to register. I was asked to resubmit the information, for which I was given an extra sum of points, despite the fact that I hadn't really been inconvenienced in any way. I liked the way that they immediately acknowledged the error and to give the extra points was, I felt, a nice gesture on their part.
It takes on average about three weeks for survey points to be credited, but don't worry unduly if you have to wait a little longer. They do pay up, and even after the problems during the summer, I eventually received all the points due to me. I don't bother to chase late payments nowadays, because I've come to trust the company and I'm in absolutely no doubt as to its integrity. Whenever I've queried something, they've never failed to respond, perhaps not immediately, but always with the utmost courtesy and friendliness, which is very reassuring.Approximately once a month, they'll send an invitation to complete a MAPS survey, which isn't, as I initially thought, a questionnaire about satellite navigation systems and the like, but a Monthly Access Panel Screener. This is a means of gathering information about your interests in order to invite you future surveys, and while there's no direct payment for this, you'll be entered into a monthly prize draw. There are three winners per country, with quite lucrative awards of 25,000, 15,000 and 10,000 points respectively. Needless to say, I'm still waiting!
The website is quite basic in style, almost clinical to look at in fact, but it's very efficient, easy to navigate and tells you all you need to know about being a member of the panel. My one criticism is that although all the information is there, it's a little misleading because it doesn't actually state that you can't join the panel from the website itself. I have a feeling that there was a link there at one time, but it's certainly not there now, and I just feel it would be helpful if they'd add a sentence or two to explain that membership is by invitation only.It's a cliché, I know, but in common with all survey sites, you aren't going to earn enough from MyTNS to live the life of Riley. The Nectar points do come in very handy, however, and of course, they can be used in many other ways apart from Argos and Sainsbury's purchases, the two examples I gave earlier. A quick look at the Nectar website will give you more information if you're not presently familiar with the scheme. MyTNS is a very efficiently run survey site, which doesn't take up too much of your time and above all, it's one which is comparatively well-paid in terms of effort. Join if you get the chance.http://www.mytns.com
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