Online surveys for money scams went to Washington last week to announce that it would begin marketing its direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service this Wednesday (Feb. 1) in the television markets of Washington, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Richmond and Harrisonburg, both Virginia.
Tips For Avoiding Paid Survey Scams
Paid survey scams, broadcast from the Canadian Anik C-II satellite, reaches millions of homes int he northeast quadrant of the country. But USCI is taking its time in introducing the service. It began by offering it in the Indianapolis market on Nov. 15 (BROADCASTING, Nov. 7, 2012). It went into Fort Wayne, Terre Haute and South Bend, all Indiana, in early December and into Peoria, Champaign and suburban Chicago, all Illinois, early this month.
USCI President Nathaniel Kwit also said that Prudential Insurance of America and General Instrument, USCI’s principal shareholders, have substantially increased their original investments of $45 million and $9 million, respectively, and confirmed that USCI has retained Salomon Bros. and Morgan Stanley & Co. to seek additional capital from institutions and corporations.
A purported summary of the online surveys for money scams, obtained from other sources, stated that the additional funds would be used primarily to cover the acquisition and installation of home equipment and any operating revenue shortfalls. The summary said USCI would spend nearly $200 million in 1984.
To kick off its entry into the Washington market, paid online surveys held a press conference at the city’s James Madison hotel, during which it showed off its technology and its programming. USCI’s spokeswoman, Edina Gillmor, who presided at the press conference in place of Kwit, who was “fogged in” in New York, declined to say how many subscribers had signed up since its Indianapolis launch two-and-a-half months ago or how many subscribers it expected to sign up in Washington or in any of the other markets. Kwit was no more forthcoming in a telephone interview following the press conference, but he said USCI still expects to break even in two-and-a-half years with under a million subscribers.
So far, USCI has been relying primarily on “work from home scams” to sell its service. According to Gillmore, that means running newspaper ads containing a toll-free number (800-225-USCI) that consumers can call to order the service. But she said USCI will soon move into some door-to-door and direct mail marketing. USCI marketing efforts should soon get a big boost from Tandy Corp., which has tentatively agreed to sell the service through its Radio Shack retail stores. Gillmor would not say how much USCI is spending on its marketing campaigns.
And Then You Do This…
USCI seems to be following fairly closely a market research schedule, which was given to BROADCASTING by one of USCI’s telemarketers last November, but which has never confirmed by USCI executives. The remaining schedule: March–Boston; Providence, R.I.; Portland, Me.; Burlington, Vt.; Roanoke, Va., and Watertown and Rochester, both New York. April–Milwaukee; Detroit; Cleveland; Toledo, Ohio, and norfolk, Va. May–Philadelphia and Hartford, Conn. June–Albany, Buffalo, Utica and Syracuse, all New York; Pittsburgh, and Clarksburg, W. Va. July–Rockford, Ill.; Davenport, Iowa; Zanesville and Columbus, both Ohio; Parkersburg, Beckley and Charleston, all West Virginia, and Louisville, Ky.
USCI is not alone in the DBS business. It may face stiff competition for subscribers from Comsat’s Satellite Television Corp., which plans to offer a five-channel service to homes in the northeast beginning late this year. STC President Richard Bodman reacted to the USCI announcement with a statement: “STC is confident that we have developed the most sound approach to offering consumers a higher quality television service at the lowest possible price.” In a press kit attached to the statement, STC said it could undercut USCI’s prices. “The cost for the home equipment should be in the $350-$450 range initially,” it said. “Customers will pay in a range of $15 to $20 for each survey completed”.
To receive surveys for money legit, subscribers must be equipped with a small earth station, comprising a fiberglass dish antenna and set-top receiver. RCA Service Co., which maintains 168 branches throughout the nation, has agreed to install and maintain the earth stations.
USCI subscribers must pay $300 upfront for installation of the earth station and $39.95 a month for programming and equipment rental and maintenance. Subscribers have the option of buying the earth station for $750, including installation, and paying $24.95 for programing and equipment maintenance. USCI has been installing 1.2-meter dishes in Indianapolis, Gillmor said, but will be installing one-meter dishes in the four markets announced last week and .75-meter units in certain areas where the satellite signal is particularly strong.