Free Money: Got 10 Crisp Dollar Bills In My Mailbox

by golbguru on January 22, 2007

Some time back, we received a phone call from a representative of a company called “Arbitron” regarding a radio rating survey. Usually, we dismiss all such calls with a curt “sorry, not interested” reply and the story ends right there. However, this guy was a smooth talker and quickly mentioned that the company will send some small gifts if we could complete a survey and send it back to them. We agreed, after making that guy hold for about 3-4 minutes, and after me and my wife exchanged some quick thoughts over the matter.

A week later, we got a couple of fancy envelope-sized boxes with the survey material. We were expecting something like coupons to a coffee shop/retail store (earlier, the guy on the phone said “something like cafe coupons”) and we were also expecting that they will send the gifts after we completed the survey and mailed it back to them. To our amazement, each of the fancy boxes contained three crisp $1 bills. Felt good; may be because I have never received any cash through mail before (in fact, I wasn’t sure people could send cash through mail). Anyways, $6 was good. :)


The story didn’t end there. In the next few days, we received a couple of “reminders” from the company, with a dollar bill in each. This was followed a few days latter with a couple of thank you letters, again each with a dollar bill. All this even before we sent in the completed surveys. Felt like someone was bribing us :)

Btw, $10 in cash almost takes care of our entire month’s cash expense. Seems like Arbitron’s money will pay for our laundry this month. :)

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 3 Things About Money 01.22.07 at 9:43 am

Ah, they are smart behavioral scientists! Studies have shown that if you send actual cash to people ahead of time and with reinforcers, that most people will fill the form and send it back, because getting cash is like being paid. People are much more likely to pocket a coupon and not do the survey. Interesting though, most survey people don’t have the nerve to do it.

2 Msminiducky 01.22.07 at 10:10 am

I didn’t know this was an actual behavioral thing. I thought I was just being trained to send back the survey so they continue to send me a nice crisp dollar bill every year. Toyota does this every so often.

3 HC 01.22.07 at 10:48 am

That’s the bright side of Arbitron.

And this is the dark side.

4 jersey jen 01.22.07 at 8:55 pm


5 golbguru 01.23.07 at 12:27 am

3 Things About Money: You are right about the behavior thing. It certainly made us fill out the surveys. I doubt we would have done it if it were not for the cash they sent us :). Also, it gives some sort of a “guilty feeling” in sense…”dude..they are being so nice with the cash and all…we should send the survey back”.

Msminiducky: That Toyota thing is news :)..I wonder how many other companies employ this tactic…and I wonder why no one except Arbitron send me cash :)
HC: Thanks for the was a pretty long article, but I see your point. However, it doesn’t sound as bad as they potray it. In the end, they are taking feedback from the listeners itself…the whole purpose of which is to retain listeners.

If, because of such studies, radio starts to sound weird, radio stations will start loosing listeners instead of retaining them…which sort of defeats the whole purpose of the studies…so in all probability I don’t think that will happen (soon).

jersey jen: yep, sweet :)

6 HC 01.23.07 at 6:17 am

Actually, between iPods, satellite radio, and the continued refining of “target demographics”, radio stations ARE losing listeners.

If it didn’t cost so much money, I would be all over satellite radio. I like deeper playlists and fewer commercials.

7 Golbguru 01.23.07 at 8:44 am

HC: You are really passionate about your radio :)..I read the article you linked twice yesterday, I think I beginning to understand it now. May these guys are squeezing the fun out of it by making it too “fit-to-taste”.

8 Annie 02.23.07 at 6:34 pm

How can I get those crisp dollars for doing surveys?

9 golbguru 02.24.07 at 12:23 am

Annie: I got these without doing any efforts on my part…so I guess they were sending the money out randomly.
However, if you are interested in doing surveys for money, check out these websites:
Survey Spot, Pinecone, or Greenfield.
Hope that helps.

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