Incentives · Legal

I have a legal question about websites that pay their users cash for completing tasks.


June 30th, 2019

The question has to do with websites/apps that pay their users with cash not releasing the earnings until you reach a threshold that they predetermined. For example: a website that pays its users cash for completing surveys will not release any of your earnings unless you meet the $50 threshold.

That means if you had an account and over weeks or months you were only able to earn $25.50 are forced to continue to try to reach the $50.00 or forfeit those earnings. The website in question has outlined in their terms that if you account becomes dormant for days or weeks they reserve the right to terminate accounts every six months for non activity even if that account has a cash balance.

I thought that there was a law that prevented this practice from taking place due to a site that had a similar requirement and it was because their entire revenue strategy was based on the percentage of users that they knew would never meet the thresholds they put in place.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

June 30th, 2019

There are many things that can be governed by a contract, including how someone gets paid and under what terms and in what manner they will be paid. Generally the laws protect people from being charged a fee to get paid, but that's for labor. You are not performing labor like an employee or contractor for companies that offer a small monetary reward for participation. They aren't "work tasks." Answering surveys is not work. Trying games on your mobile phone is not work. These are volunteer activities and the rewards are not payment for labor. That's the difference.

Yes, there are rules about gift card balances and charging fees to hold accounts open and such. If I were you, I would talk to the consumer protection agency about your specific circumstances. But broadly the difference is that you've signed a contract and it is not for employment, so there's very little protection for your small rewards being distributed in a way that you prefer. As for what the companies offering the rewards are allowed to do with unclaimed funds, it's hard to say with certainty. That's why you need to address a specific set of contract terms with the agency regulating the practice/business.