This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here

NEWS17 May 2011

Concerns raised over ‘pay to take surveys’ firm in India

Asia Pacific

INDIA — A company asking people to pay a large upfront fee for the chance to earn money by taking surveys is facing tough questions in India.

Singapore-based Speak Asia has aired TV ads around Indian Premier League cricket matches over the last few weeks. The firm says panellists can earn rewards by taking online surveys – but only after paying a fee.

Speak Asia’s website describes three ways to register as a panellist – either by passing a “test and interview for selection”, with an examination fee of $60, or by buying a subscription to its weekly Online Surveys Today e-bulletin, at $120 for six months or $220 for 12 months.

The only option that does not require payment is to provide proof of an annual income of $1,000 or more from “any of the global top 20 online survey companies”.

Speak Asia claims that it is possible to earn $20 per day taking surveys, but that participants can massively increase their income by referring other people to join.

Indian journalists have challenged Speak Asia about its business model and practices, and Kirit Somaiya, leader of the opposition party BJP, has filed a complaint against the firm with the economic offences wing of the Mumbai Police, Star News reported today.

Moneylife reported that at a press conference held yesterday, Speak Asia’s representatives denied it was a multi-level marketing operation, describing itself as a precision marketing services provider. The company declined to divulge any details of its ownership or financial details unless reporters signed a non-disclosure agreement, Moneylife reported.

The firm also retracted a claim made by its chief marketing officer at a recent trade fair that its clients included Bata, Nestlé, Bharti Airtel, ICICI Bank and ING Vysya – after Star News broadcast statements from some of the firms saying they had no dealings with Speak Asia. The company said it has not been commissioned for work by any of these companies, but insisted it has “worked with” them.

In a statement received by Moneylife the firm, which said it launched last year, claimed to have made turnover of $80.5m over the last three quarters, and paid out $52m to more than a million panellists for completing surveys, evaluating ads and referring other panellists. It said it had spent $9m on marketing, training and business development.

Other companies charging panellists upfront include Ram Survey, which claims to be “India’s largest survey company”, and asks members to pay 3,500 rupees ($78 ) to join, offering the chance to earn 500 rupees ($11 ) per week from surveys, and much more for referrals.

Representatives of Speak Asia could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

An Esomar spokesperson said research participants should always check whether companies adhere to recognised professional standards, but declined to make any further comment.

The Market Research Society of India declined to comment on the matter.

@RESEARCH LIVE

8 Comments

9 years ago

thanks for your article. let me give you some more infor on SAOL. As mentioned in the press confernece, if they earned 325 crores from indian but paid only 250 crores whereas all their survey income is coming from foreign companies... that means all the payments made so far was only from money earned from india... they will wash their hands with india the way they have done with bangladesh operations... why they deduct 3% with a minimum of $7.50 for bank transfers and then the banks deduct further being currency conversion charges. Why they charge a whopping 11k to make a panelist? Why under the fast pretense of charging service tax from the panelists they are increasing the joining fee by Rs3950 from May 20 when the service tax component is only Rs1310, 1k of which was already being recovered in the 11k? They have mentioned installing their own IBM servers with Amazon technology, the cost of which they want to recover from the panelists. Why could this cost not be recovered by lowering the binary income component in the 11k from 6k to 3k? To me it seemed like this company was that the company's objective was e-commerce with paid surveys being just a small component. They were not getting any surveys from anywhere. They were paying current panelists from the downline joining. Else why would a 14 year old child receive the same surveys as that by adults? Why would a woman receive the same surveys as meant for men like razor blades and liquid shoe polish? To me it looked like that the company wanted to dissuade panelists from bank transfers but rather recover their panel/survey income by getting more panelists or transferring the income to another panelist (and take cash in return at the rate of $1=Rs50) who was getting more referrals. anyone use senses can make out that no company gives 575 (Rs. 75 is the incentive on each survey to the person referred the panelist) x 15 lakhs panelists in inda = 86.25crores x 2 surveys each week = 172.5 crores EVERY WEEK!!!! for such stupid surveys where people have 10-20 IDs and do not think before clicking during survyes... people don't take nore than 90 seconds to complete a survey... some of the questions: 1. what about income tax on the huge earnings of very few panelists. 2. who has read their so called magazine worth rs 11000 a year. I joined 6 months back but never seen that magazine 3. why huge money is being offered for getting more panalists. if its a survey company, should just be giving money for surveys. 4. they sais that they sold lakhs of adriod mobile phones and LCD tvs last month. I know that they gave these phone and LCDs for free for getting more panelists. 5. they give around 86.25 crores x 2 each week for surveys.. which company invests spensds so much fo market surveys. 6. you should see their surveys, they are meaningless ... nothing can come out of those surveys... most of the questions are repeated... am sure the creater of the surveys are not an MBA or hasnt studied market research in MBA... 7. where is the receipt of 11000 charged every year... whats the singapore tax structure in that???

Like Report

9 years ago

Requiring (or even requesting) prospective repsondents to provide any of value (other then their responses) in order to participate in research violates a central canon of the industry's ethical system.

Like Report

9 years ago

The members of Speakasia are the real culprits because they provoke others to be members of Speakasia or such firms and assures them high returns despite knowing that Speakasia may finish at any time but still they provoke others to be mebers of Speakasia in temptation of the commission they would get by making new members

Like Report

9 years ago

A news channel by the name of Star News is the who is trying hut the image of this respectable company " SpeakAsiaonline" because this channel star news also came into Survey business recently. First of all, they despise speakasia for its business model & then on the other hand they copy SpeakAsia's business model upto a certain extent. This is just pure business rivalry & an unethical business practice by this channel called Star News for gaining business advantage against SpeakAsia. Regards SpeakAsian Proud to be a SpeakAsian

Like Report

9 years ago

Dear sir,this co.fake or true we dont no we invest this co.if com. r fake let me no because so many poor pepole r invest this co. please I Have one request,we get our money back than u take any action.we hope u give me positive replay thank u.

Like Report

9 years ago

it would be interesting to see if the industries has been affected by these scam-tainted players. And if the market research societies should be concerned about this at all and connect with the general public perhaps thats what should be open for debate. Have we learnt anything from this, or should we be un-concerned about such incidents...

Like Report

9 years ago

Different questions arises? 1. What will happen to the innocent investors, whether they get back there money for online paid up survey till now who requested to the co. for the payment? 2. What will be the next step taken by the govt. of india for the investment made by the investors? 3. Will the co. pays the payment to the requestors till the date, where bank a/c in india of speakasia, is in process to cease?

Like Report

9 years ago

It's a real shame that black sheeps exist in the market research industry - spoiling the market with unethical practices. These so-call marketing services companies should be routed out from our industry. Kind Regards, Jasper Lim Merlien Institute

Like Report