Rich Tehrani and Tom Keating have both published articles about getting paid to talk in the last couple of days. Rich ridicules the idea as a throwback to the dot com days. Tom reports on a company called CashBackVoices offering to pay you a percentage of all you talk, and all that your friends talk, and…
CashBackVoices is a pyramid scheme (sorry, multi-level marketing company) in the tradition of the grandest scams in the industry. All calls must be 30 minutes to qualify. You pay competitive rates for the calls you make. You enroll by paying a 1.75 euro one time fee, and then buy credits for your phone usage. The cashback scheme looks like this:
- First level (people you call directly): 10%
- Second level (people your directs call): 1%
- Third level: 2%
- Fourth level: 3%
- Fifth level: 4%
- Sixth level: 5%
- Seventh level: 6%
- Eight level: 7%
- Nineth level: 8%
Tenth level: 9%
This scam is the same as the "bong tone" scams on prepaid phone cards. Most people will never see a cent from this scheme. That’s because most telephone calls are less than 10 minutes long. Most people will pay the sign up fee, buy some credit, discover that the service is really no cheaper than any other prepaid long distance service and drop it. And CashBackVoices will keep the unused balance and the 1.75 euro sign up fee… technically known as "breakage" in the prepaid phone card industry.
CashBackVoices couldn’t really afford to make the payout either. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you make 2 30 minute calls in a month, and everyone in your downline does the same. Whipping out my handy copy of Excel reveals that for my $1.30 in phone calls made, CashBackVoices would owe me $106.32. There’s a sucker born every minute, isn’t there?
I’m with Rich. Value is going to be created by innovative new uses for VoIP.