Before You Toss That Receipt, Use It to Save Money and Get Free Stuff

customer satisfaction survey
Gena96 under Creative Commons

If you have a tendency to throw out your shopping receipts after making a purchase, stop!

Often, those receipts invite you to take a customer satisfaction survey. You complete the survey to help a business provide better service, and, in return, the company gives you discounts and freebies.

Not all receipt offers are equal, though. Here’s how to know which surveys are worthwhile, and what you can earn.

Why Businesses Ask for Feedback

I’ve been on the other side of these surveys.

For a few years, I was a manager at a movie theater. I was one of the people who studied the survey results and responded to comments.

Sometimes the complaints were unreasonable and I couldn’t do anything about them. (I’m sorry the previews take too long, but I don’t make them nor do I pick which ones to show.) But the others allowed us to see areas of the business that needed improvement.

These surveys helped us measure our success, and I can appreciate the benefits they offer businesses. That’s one reason I like to fill them out for other businesses — that, and the rewards.

Instant Rewards vs. Contest Entries

Not all companies give you an actual reward for completing these surveys. In fact, I’ve noticed more and more businesses offering to enter you into a contest for a free gift card or shopping spree. While it would be great to win, chances are you won’t.

If you’re taking the time to give your feedback, you should receive a token of appreciation — each time — for your honesty, so look for offers where you’ll receive more than a contest entry for your efforts.

Companies that Offer Guaranteed Benefits

Here are some businesses that offer a guaranteed reward or discount in exchange for sharing your feedback:

How to Get Your Reward

Go to the website listed on your receipt. (Most of them should work on your mobile device.) Enter your survey code, which will be a series of numbers or letters on your receipt.

After that, answer the questions as best you can. They’re mostly multiple choice, but usually there’s at least one opportunity to fill in a text box with more details about your experience.

You’ll be given a verification code or asked for your email address so one can be sent to you. Simply write the code on your receipt and turn it in at your next visit for your discount or free item.

Pay attention to the directions, as some discounts are only applicable for the same store or restaurant you visited where you received the survey.

The best part is, it doesn’t matter what you say: You get the same reward, whether you share a positive or negative experience.

If you know you’ll do repeat business with a particular company, you might as well save some money and take these surveys. Who knows? Your survey response could improve your next experience, which will be made that much sweeter with your reward.

Your Turn: Do you fill out customer satisfaction surveys? What are some of the rewards you’ve received?

Kristina Brandt is a freelance writer and full-time marketer from New York.