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NEED ADVICE: Stalled Check Payment for a Focus Group

Need advice on how to get compensation for a focus group. Early February I completed a survey and was accepted into a user experience study paying $125 for The Food Network. The Recruiter (Winn Winn Research) asked for my name and stated a check will be mailed out a week after the study. Did the study, a week later I receive the check with my name is misspelled. Recruiter dodges my emails for a week then responds to send it back to the address on the check – Attention Ms. XX. I send it back with tracking and signature confirmation. A month later, no check. I call the check issuing company (TNS US LLC) and all the phone lines in Accounts Payable lead to dead voicemails. Reached a receptionist at that company and I’m told there is no Ms. XX working there. I’ve called and emailed the Recruiter about the issue and no response.

I’m not sure who is liable for the compensation – the Recruiter or the Check Issuing Company. It’s been over six weeks and it’s definitely soured my feelings on focus groups that offer delayed payment. No one wants to chase after major companies for beer money. What’s my best course of action here?

**TL:DR** Did a focus group, still have not received check compensation of $125. Both the recruiter and the check issuing company are unresponsive.

7 thoughts on “NEED ADVICE: Stalled Check Payment for a Focus Group

    1. The recruiting company is run by one person. All emails, calls, texts and site contact information are managed by the owner. They’ve dodged all forms of communication.

      1. I’d say they were your original contact for all of this so they should be following up for you to correct the situation, not passing you off to a third party. If you have the documents showing that the check was returned, I’d send the recruiter an e-mail with “WITHOUT PREJUDICE” in the subject line and explain that they’ve got 30 days to have a new check delivered to you, with your name spelled properly, or you’ll be filing in small claims court for the amount you are owed plus filing fees. Keep it short, sweet, mature, and to the point. This isn’t about how you feel or how wrong they are for doing this. This is about a debt that will be settled whether they step up and handle it the easy way or not. If the recruiter tries to tell you it’s someone else’s fault, tell them to be sure to bring that someone else with them to court because you’re dealing with the recruiter and nobody else. This isn’t about how you feel or how wrong they are for doing this. This is about a debt that will be settled whether they step up and handle it the easy way or not.

        If they’re jerking you around, court is your only recourse. There’s no getting around it. This is precisely the kind of thing that small claims court is for. Gather every document you can that directly supports your case and go file suit. Either you take it all the way or you forget about it, because it’s clear by now that they aren’t in a rush to see you get paid.

  1. If this happens again in the future, you should try to cash the check anyways and explain the situation to the teller. People misspell my family’s last name all the time and the bank tellers will usually process it through anyways. Sometimes the newbies hesitate, but we just have to ask them to go get one of the older employees.

    In this case, I don’t think the check issuing company can do anything. Not too sure what you mean by “dead voicemail”, but have you tried looking for an email? You could try asking them to send another one, but it’s not really their job. It would be on the recruiter to pay. Have you tried calling the recruiter and explaining your situation without mentioning the specific recruiters name? You mentioned getting to someone at one point. Next up would be contacting the site that hosted the focus group to see if they can get you anywhere. You could try contacting The Food Network but unless they were running the study that might not get anywhere.

    Aside from that, you just have to wait and hope it works out. Unless you want to try suing them. It’s only been 6 weeks, and dealing with an incorrect payment can take months. Even at a normal job, if something is wrong with your check it can take a month or two before it gets sorted out.

     

    > Recruiter dodges my emails for a week

    In the future, send **one** email and be patient when waiting for a reply. Not everyone replies in a few hours. Some companies and recruiters answer emails only one or two days a week. Your recruiter could’ve been out of the office for a few days. You never know what their situation is. Sending multiple emails won’t make them reply any quicker. If you haven’t gotten a reply in a week or two and they usually respond promptly, only then consider sending a second one.

    1. Thanks for all the feedback. The teller solution is the simplest now that you mention it but, at the time, the idea honestly alluded me.

      > what you mean by “dead voicemail”

      When I call, I get the *”This mail box is full”* alert after their outgoing voicemail message. All the Accounts Payable lines get this alert except the Director’s – I’ve left two voicemails on their line 10 days apart. No response.

      > have you tried looking for an email?

      Yes, exhaustively. Tried the consumerist approach of trying different domains and different name combinations. All emails comeback as undeliverable.

      > Have you tried calling the recruiter?

      Yes. It’s a single owner shop – meaning only one person runs the company. They run the phones, website, facebook, instagram etc. I’ve emailed them twice five days apart. No response. I’ve called once and left a voicemail. No response. Sent a text once (another method they use), no response.

      > contacting the site that hosted the focus group to see if they can get you anywhere. You could try contacting The Food Network

      The user study was conducted at The Food Networks main offices. A User Interface consulting company ran the study ( a subsidiary of Kantar marketing). TNS US LLC is the payment processor (also a subsidiary of Kaplan marketing).

      If incorrect payments can take months as you stated, then I have no choice but to wait it out. I can’t sue them for $150 – I’d have to be insane to do that. I can send one last email to the recruiter outlining the delay in processing – it’s been three weeks since I last communicated with them (her).

      1. > It’s a single owner shop – meaning only one person runs the company. They run the phones, website, facebook, instagram etc.

        Have you tried contacting them through any of these social media platforms? Sometimes you can get a quicker reply by messaging/commenting on their social media than you can by emailing.

        > The user study was conducted at The Food Networks main offices. A User Interface consulting company ran the study ( a subsidiary of Kaplan marketing).

        In that case, I would still try to get in touch with The Food Network. Perhaps stop by in person during the off hours if they have any sort of reception desk or something – assuming it’s nearby. If not, just call. Just be polite, ask if they happen to have any contact information because there’s been a payment issue and you’re having trouble getting in contact with them. It’s not their fault and they likely can’t do anything about it, but if they hear about a problem-client, they may be able to put some pressure on the company or stop providing them a location to work from. Even if they aren’t the ones running it, it puts a negative image on them for giving these people a location to work from.

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