Springboard America Review: Is This Site Worth Joining?

by Spencer Mitchell on January 7, 2013

I received this email from a reader the other day:

Dear Spencer,

I know that you like to post reviews of popular survey panels. Can you please do a Springboard America review? I’ve been reading about this site more and more lately but I don’t like to join anything without reading a review first.

Thanks,

Annie

Even though I have more than enough survey sites to keep me busy week in and week out I decided to look into this survey panel and see whether or not it’s reputable.

Background on Springboard America

Because this panel was new to me (I literally hadn’t even heard of it until I received the email mentioned above) I realized that I needed to dig deep on this panel’s ownership, affiliations (if any) and history.

First, let’s do a bird’s eye view of the site. On the surface is appears to be yet another survey panel that works with market research firms to collect and analyze consumer opinions and spending habits. However, this is sometimes used as a front for phony survey sites like Panda Research and BigSpot.

I relaxed a bit when I found out the panel is run by none other than Vision Critical, a very trustworthy market research firm with over 14 global locations. Based on this information alone I realized that Springboard USA is no fly by night operation out to make a buck –they’re as legit as it gets. In fact they’re site claims that they’ve sent out 2.5 million surveys…every month!

Vision Critical works with organizations like Golf Digest, Lonely Planet and even some governments to help them learn more about their stakeholders.

Unfortunately, one of the factors I consider most important when evaluating a newly discovered survey panel — BBB accreditation — wasn’t something that Springboard America could claim to have. As you can see from their Better Business Bureau page, they aren’t officially accredited and have a B rating:

Springboard  BBB Screenshot

To be clear: a lack of BBB accreditation isn’t a dealbreaker for me…although I obviously prefer to see that whenever possible.

However, any rating below an A makes me raise my eyebrows and wonder what kind of experience panelists tend to have with them. One factor that hurt their BBB rating was the fact that they haven’t been forthcoming with their company’s information to the BBB (it’s important to keep in mind that no business is required in any way to play ball with the BBB. This doesn’t mean they were doing anything shady).

I also found that they had a few complaints that were all resolved. That means that they were proactive about making sure that  they acknowledged customers who complained to the BBB about them.

All in all, based on the trust that many have for their parent organization and their decent rating with the BBB, I can say with some confidence that this panel is legitimate.

However, legitimacy is only one factor a panel needs to get an official Survey Spencer recommendation (I’m tough but fair). You have to pay well, pay fairly and pay on time. And to find that out I needed to sign up as a panelist.

Should You Join?

You should be aware of some membership restrictions the panel has before signing up.

The first criteria is that you need to be willing and able to give your opinion by participating in the panel’s surveys. This is somewhat obvious but it’s something they point out in their FAQ section and worth noting.

Why?

Because they also have a requirement that you need to complete at least one survey every 3-months. So they put their money where their mouth is with that policy.

You should also be at least 14-years old and live in the United States (unfortunately they don’t accept panelists from other “paid survey hotspots” like Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand or Australia). It’s important to note — like most panels — you’ll typically get more survey invitations if you’re over 18.¬† So you can technically join at 14…but don’t expect a flood of invitations.

As a 40-something guy living in The States who loves filling out surveys (and writing survey reviews) I met their criteria.

This is what their signup page looks like:

Springboard Signup Page

To me, this was one of the strangest signup forms I’ve ever seen from a survey panel. Usually they ask for demographic information right off the bat…and learn about my views much later in the process.

I’m not sure whether this is a move to increase signups (maybe people prefer to get warmed up with a few opinion questions before giving out personal info) or just a sign of their priorities. Or it may be a way of mixing in interesting and boring questions to make the signup process more interesting and give off a good first impression.

Either way, I waded through their signup questions, which were a bit unusual…but in a good way.

As I’ve said several times before on this blog, I love it when survey panels care enough about user experience to make their surveys visually appealing and fun (I can only check off boxes a few times before it gets boring).

Check this out:

Visually Appealing Survey

I thought this was pretty cool. Instead of having you just make a choice from a boring list, they created a visualization that made answering the question more interesting.

After I waded through a few more of these I was sent a confirmation email. As a cool bonus I was entered into a $1000 sweepstakes for confirming my email.

Since then I made sure to give them as many details as I possibly could in my personal profile (this is one of the best ways to get more survey invitations).

However, I didn’t receive many invitations for surveys that pay. The one’s I did receive were well-paid for the time I needed to finish them.

How Payments Work

Now it’s time to get to the good stuff: payments!

Fortunately, Springboard America has a sort of cash/points hybrid that they call Survey Dollars. According to the official site, you can expect to make anywhere between 50 cents and $5 per completed survey (a pretty wide range).

Sadly, they require you to accumulate at least $50 in your account before you can redeem you points and get the cash deposited into your PayPal account. As a panel that doles out surveys somewhat judiciously, this could take a while (some of their panelists report that it can take over 6-months to receive their first payment).

Overall, I’d say that Springboard America is a decent panel but I’d be hard pressed to recommend them due to their high minimum payout threshold.

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