Several months ago, I had my first unsatisfying experience with Crowdtap. Along with many others, I spoke out about it, and the situation was eventually rectified. I hoped that it was a fluke, because I know that a number of you have joined Crowdtap on my recommendation. And, I liked winning those $20 top awards (to date, I've cashed out over $125 at Amazon). For both of those reasons, I hoped that my experience was a one-time thing, due to some sort of miscommunication. However, I've now experienced the same situation twice more, and I just cannot sit by any longer and be a party to a company that engages in such deceptive business practices.
If you are a member of Crowdtap, you are already familiar with the "discussion" formats--essentially, you participate in a discussion to give a particular brand feedback, and then the "top contributors" (historically 1 in 25) win a prize of $10-$20.
A few months ago, I blogged about two opportunities that I had participated in through Crowdtap--the Hawaiian Tropic House Party and the Playtex Sport Wipes Sample Share. In addition to holding the house party and giving out samples, I wrote up a review for the company, and also answered discussion questions for the company. I put quite a bit of thought and time into answering the questions to the best of my ability, because I wanted to win the Top Award, which was posted as being $50 for the top 1 in 25 for the Hawaiian Tropic House Party, and $20 for the top 1 in 25 for the Playtex Sports Wipes sample share. Both discussions have closed several months ago, and no winners had been announced. I asked repeatedly both on the Crowdtap website itself and on their Facebook page about winners, and received no response until today:
The official awards structure for sampling and hosted party actions have just been finalized, and the top 1/25 contributors for those actions will each win an award of 2,500 points. These awards will be given out either today or tomorrow. Sorry for the confusing messaging and delay in awards!Keep Tappin!
Essentially, now that those discussions are complete, Crowdtap has elected to change the prize for top award from money, to points (which essentially have no value and may not be redeemed towards an Amazon gift card). This is the THIRD instance of such bait and switch tactics that I've been aware of, and there may be more (I haven't seemed to qualify for many actions since I've started publicly questioning Crowdtap's practices--not sure whether or not that's a coincidence).
Look, if Crowdtap wanted to make changes to the way that they structure their awards, that's fine. Roll out an email to the members advising them of the changes and go forward from there--but those changes should absolutely not take place retroactively for completed discussions and actions to which a $20 or $50 prize was already posted. My time and participation were based on the commitment of Crowdtap to provide the prizes that they stated they'd provide, and I think it's a shady, deceptive business tactic to change the terms of the agreement after the discussion has closed (and now that I've observed it three times, it certainly does feel like a tactic rather than a miscommunication).
Think of it this way--let's pretend that as a photographer, I invite all my blog readers to look at my website and give me feedback. The feedback that I'm requesting is a detailed questionnaire and would take you quite a bit of time to complete, but I give the incentive that the one person who I think completes the questionnaire most thoughtfully will win a free family photo session. So you really take your time, fill out the questionnaire to the best of your abilities. Several weeks go by, and you never see a winner announced. You email several times, but receive no response, until one day, I respond back to you and say, "I've just now decided how exactly to structure the contest winnings--the top contributor will actually just receive a gold star next to their name on any comments that they make on my blog. I'll announce the winner today or tomorrow. Sorry for any misunderstanding!"
As a photographer, if I were to do that, people would be beyond pissed, and they should be, because it's outrageous behavior--I suckered people into giving me their time and opinions with the promise of one thing, and then once they had done so in good faith, I changed my end of the bargain. And yet, that's exactly what Crowdtap has attempted to do three times that I'm aware of.
Am I way off base here, or is this markedly shady?