Stores want your opinion and offer big prizes, but does anyone ever win?

Some stores won't reveal the winners

CLEVELAND - We all have an opinion, but do you share it? Simply telling a business how you feel could help you cash in.

Stores want your feedback. Many store receipts offer to enter your name into a sweepstakes if you fill out a survey about your shopping experience. Other times, getting free money may be as simple as tweeting or sharing a deal on Facebook.

"Who doesn't want to win some money?" Joan Altmayer said.

Altmayer collects her cash register receipts, and looks to see which ones offer prizes for feedback. She invests five minutes a survey, hoping some day to cash in on the prize.

"Applebees, they give you $1,000. There's a winner every day," Altmayer said.

Store surveys don't come cheap for retailers. Cleveland State business professor, Elad Granot, said stores ask a lot of questions to get feedback. It helps a store deal with turnover issues. Every year, stores lose about 30 percent of their shoppers.

"It's the desire of retailers to improve the bottom line by hanging on and recruiting new shoppers, plus their ability because of technology to ask questions," said Granot.

Who wins store survey sweepstakes?

Granot thinks stores should invest in a good manager to find out what you think during your shopping experience. However, many stores want you to tell them what you think after your trip.

"Most of us have never won anything," said Granot. "The value this has for you as a shopper is really nonexistent. You're wasting your time."

Granot said these seemingly winner-less contests lead to trust issues.

"Just how real is this? Does anybody ever win?" Altmayer asked.

Altmayer's only ever won an Arby's sandwich, and that's a given just for taking the survey. So, Five on Your Side called 11 companies to see who won their survey giveaways.

Target, JCPenney and Kohl's wouldn't tell us who won. Target said it respects its guests privacy.

Sears told us to send a self addressed stamped envelope for a list of the winners.

Companies Home Depot, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Lowe's and Rite Aid list their winners online for everyone to see. That's where Five on Your Side found Patricia Lisby.

"I got the thousand dollars," Lisby said. "Very surprised and very happy."

Lisby never thought an Olive Garden survey would win her a thousand dollars cash. She thought the envelope with that prize money was junk mail. She didn't open it for a week.

"Something told me to open it, and so I opened it. My husband didn't believe it," Lisby said. It was real, and it's changed her opinion of those surveys businesses ask you to fill out.

"Now I think it's possible," Lisby said.

Is social media a better way to get feedback?

While some people do win, Granot said survey fatigue is a big issue. When that happens, the survey answers become questionable.

"The validity of the information is suspect at best," Granot said. "It's crap in. Crap out. That's what surveys are."

Granot said some retailers are realizing this, and switching to social media for feedback and product branding.

"Social media is the land of people who are hand raisers, meaning they volunteer to give you feedback," said Granot.

Companies don't even have to offer you anything to get you to share your interest in their product online. After most purchases, you'll see buttons to share your purchase on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. You don't get anything in return, but the company gets free advertising.

Some businesses are even paying you to share their deals and product lines.

"I'm willing to give up some of my social media space for deals no problem," Nathan Vallette said.

Vallette is trying to save for a money while paying off student loans. He said he'd even put a decal on his car promoting a company if it meant money back for him. He's not so sure his fiancee would like that idea. For now, he's sticking to tweeting to save money with American Express.

"As long as you tweet the hashtag and promote the company then it's automatically synced to your card. When you make the purchase you get the deal," Vallette said.

He's taken advantage of deals to fast food restaurants, clothing, movies, and concerts. Only certain companies are participating at this time, and Vallette hopes the program grows.

American Express also has a Facebook program called " Link, Like, Love ." It offers savings and rewards based on your Facebook interests and likes. Offers and deals like $10 off a $50 purchase at Cheesecake Factory on recommended for you.

"It will be interesting to see if they have new ways to actually reward the people who take advantage of the deals to help spread the deals to other people," Vallette said. He said he's had a few friends ask about the deals he's tweeted. He'd like to see that as a way to earn even more


Sears is offering a personal shopper program that allows you to cash in on your friends purchases. You can invite them via email or social media like Facebook to join you as a personal shopper. You recommend items for them to buy from Sears and its partner companies. Friends then sign up to be a client of yours and you earn 1 percent of their purchase. It can be made online or in the store. There are ways to earn even more money depending on how many clients you obtain.

If you like shoes, Love Be Loved , promotes sharing and saving. The company rewards Facebook users. Just for signing up you get $20 off your first purchase. If you share a purchase, the company promotes savings and possibly free shipping. Their motto - spread the word and save.

Groupon offers you savings if you share your deal and enough people buy it.

Companies are also using platforms like Chirpify to share their deals on Twitter, and make it easy for you to buy them. All you have to do is hit reply and the purchase will be completed with the linked Paypal account. The goal is that if you reply to an offer, all your followers will see it and thus the company gets some more free advertising.

"I don't know if it's causing me to stick around and stay as a customer. Maybe it will if I get a really great experience at a place I never heard of before," Vallette said.

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