Is uTest a Scam?

There are some reviews out there from testers claiming uTest is a scam and that you can’t make any money. I’ve also seen a few uTest customers complain about the quality of the testing and uTest’s sales/negotiating practices. These concerns are valid and I can understand why some people have the impression that uTest is not what it claims to be. In order to address these perceptions, we need to look at them from two points of view; The view of the customer, and the view of the tester.

The uTest customer

Complaint #1: The quality of the testing was lower than expected

I have no problem saying that there are a lot of bad testers at uTest. It’s true, there is no point in denying it. These testers only report low-value bugs, they don’t follow instructions, and generally disrupt the test cycle. Sometimes it is because they’re inexperienced testers, sometimes they’re just plain bad. Unfortunately this is one of the downsides of crowdsourcing. To uTest’s credit, they do realize this and are continuously working to improve the skills and abilities of uTesters. They also identify and remove problem testers.

On the other hand there are some absolutely awesome testers at uTest. These top testers consistently provide the customer with excellent service and high-value bugs. uTest does a pretty good job of identifying the strong testers and ensuring that they are the ones working on your projects. Keep in mind that there are literally hundreds of projects, dozens of Project Managers and thousands of testers from all over the world, so every test cycle is going to be different.

So what’s a customer to do? First you need to manage your expectations. Understand the limitations and benefits of uTest and make sure they align with your testing needs. Second, you need to be involved. Yes, uTest is a service, but the quality and success of your project is a direct result of your participation and influence.

Here is an excellent article from Elena Houser on how customers can get the most from their uTest (or any crowdsourced) testing service. It is a MUST read for any potential uTest customer: http://trancecyberiantester.blogspot.com/2012/10/crowdsourced-testing-lessons-learned.html

Complaint #2: The uTest sales process is shady

In full disclosure, I’m not a uTest customer so I’ve never gone through this process myself. However, I am a uTest TTL (Team Test Lead) and so I have worked with many different customers. I’ve seen customers who are extremely satisfied and those constantly complain. It doesn’t take long before you start to see a pattern.

I really could just do a copy/paste from above. Again, this comes down to having correct expectations and being involved. Customers who follow Elena’s advice will find that uTest’s services are well worth the money and effort. Those who don’t will be disappointed with their results.

Another point worth mentioning is that uTest is a start-up company. They have only been around a few years yet they are growing and changing incredibly fast. In just the last year I’ve seen some impressive improvements. I have no doubt that as the company matures and customer needs and expectations are better understood, the sales experience will improve and mature as well.

The uTest tester

Complaint #1: uTest is a scam

As I mentioned above, uTest is a start-up. The company grew faster than many people expected and as a result it went through some obvious growing pains. Everything about the company was (and still is) evolving. The payment process was still being worked out, bug reporting and evaluation was confusing, and in general the tester experience gave some the impression that uTest was either a scam or just unprofessional.

Admittedly, the first tester interface was terrible. It was slow, buggy, and difficult to use, which is quite ironic for a software testing company. This problem has now been addressed. uTest recently launched their new tester platform and it is so much better (read more here). Their are now several reliable ways for testers to receive payment, and there is an entire team of employees solely dedicated to the welfare of the testers. These are just a few examples of how uTest is working to improve its image and show testers that uTest is a legitimate company and a great place to work.

Complaint #2: You can’t make any money

I recently read a review from a uTester that he had reported 87 bugs but he only was paid for 16 of them. The other 71 bugs were rejected. He felt that bugs were intentionally rejected in order to avoid paying the testers. He’s not the only one to complain that testers are not adequately compensated for their efforts. Fortunately it is because of a few misconceptions.

Testers need to understand the uTest bug payment model. Customers pay uTest a set price for an agreed upon amount of work. It is up to the customer to accept or reject the bugs reported by the testers. uTest then pays the testers for the bugs (and other work) the customer accepted. Since the customer pays a flat fee no matter how many bugs are reported or accepted, they have no financial incentive to reject individual bugs. Bugs are rejected for valid reasons, not to avoid paying for them.

The other important point is testers are not paid for their efforts (there are some exceptions), they are paid primarily for the value they provide. Testers who provide the customer with high-value bugs make a lot of money. Testers who report low-value or “junk” bugs make very little money.

The bottom line is good testers can make good money working at uTest. Poor testers will be frustrated.

Conclusion

uTest is not a scam. It is a legitimate company and an amazing one at that. While uTest is not perfect, most criticisms can be answered if you look at the entire situation objectively.

15 thoughts on “Is uTest a Scam?

  1. Interesting. I’m a new uTest tester – just been a member for a month. I don’t think it’s a scam – I have high hopes for it long term- but I do think some of what they tell new testers need to be taken with a pinch of salt. They tell you that if you pass the Sandbox program in the top 30% – which I did-pass the Quia quiz with 100% – which I did – , and introduce yourself on the forum – which I did – you should then start receiving invites to paid cycles – which I haven’t. But fair enough – the fact that I have done these things isn’t automatically going to create suitable projects.
    Also, I got an e-mail from uTest Research asking me to complete a brief survey about the chat feature. “We’re asking a select group of testers to participate in a very brief survey that will help us to continue to refine the feature.” Come again? I’ve only just joined, and have not yet had an invite to a paid cycle. Does that make me a member of a select group? This e-mail was presumably sent to everybody.
    But then as said it’s early days both for uTest and my time with them, and I do feel optimistic about it long-term.

    • Hi Robert,
      Mobile testing is really big right now, so you really need to have a popular mobile device like an iPhone 5 or a Galaxy IV. As for the survey email, that’s marketing for you. I think the entire uTest community was part of that “select group” :)

      thanks for your comments

      • Lucas thanks for the tip ref. mobile. I need a new one and am being a bit indecisive about what to go for. Think you have just helped me make the decision. Have also just seen a good mobile app testing course from a company here in Denmark which I will be signing up for.
        Best regards Rob Ingleby.

    • Hi Jonathan,
      uTest is available globally, however paid work is based on supply and demand and varies by area. You can learn more here.

  2. My final verdict on uTest as I ask them to de-activate my account- nice idea, they just don’t have the work. Fair enough – they never guaranteed it. If I have a complaint about them, it’s that I wasted a whole weekend of my life on their Sandbox program. WHY do they ask people to do this if there is no point to it?

    • uTest/Applause actually has a tremendous amount of work, but most of the work needs to be completed by a specific set of testers. For example if the project calls for testers in the US with iPhones, testers in the UK with Android phones won’t be invited to the project. The projects we run and their requirements are constantly changing, so you might not have been invited to the project today, but you might get invited to a different project tomorrow.

      Another determining factor is your rating and reputation. Experienced, highly rated testers get significantly more work than new unknown testers. This makes sense since it’s in the customer’s best interest to provide them with testers who have proven they do good work. It can take a while for a new tester to get experience and build up their rating and reputation, but I assure you it’s well worth the effort.

  3. As a uTester for about two months now, I can say that it is most definitely NOT a scam. You get in what you put out. If you want to report a whole bunch of bugs that are not terribly valuable, then you are going to get payouts that aren’t terribly high. Think about it from the customer’s perspective: what bugs are going to block the user from using their app and what bugs are going to go unnoticed? I am extremely pleased with uTest, and if you put in the effort, you will be, too. Lucas is a great leader at uTest and I assure you he has nothing to gain from writing this article.

  4. Lucas , my last word then I’ll
    leave you alone.(Gives you another
    hit on your blog!) One thing I DO accept
    it’s a U.S company so that”s where
    most of the work will be.Fair enough I
    need to find the alternatives on this side
    of the pond. I’ve got no complaint against
    uTest, it”s just all this “What to expect
    in the first month” stuff I was sent
    after sailing through the Sandbox etc
    led me to expect too much. If you put in
    the effort,report valuable bugs,you get out
    what you put in?Chance to do any of these
    things would have been nice.

    • Rob,

      What I think really ramped up my invites to tests was going to the forum and looking at upcoming paid opportunities and applying to them specifically. This got me rated as a tester and now after about three months I am invited to about a dozen cycles daily.

      Give it a go :)

      • I like this post. I don’t think utest is a scam either. I can tell you that almost two years ago when I jumped into this endeavor, I knew absolutely nothing about testing! However, with the promise of “on the job” training and interest in technology in general, I jumped in feet first. I was a little leery at first, but after watching a few utester spotlight videos of people just like me, I felt better. That and the fact that I owned several different devices in the first place. After completing my sandbox program, which was nothing to shake a stick at, as it was a live site with not many bugs for sure! I went on to get invited to a couple ongoing test cycles for a couple of companies, and ended up getting a “favorite tester” badge. That company I still do work for on a regular basis. Right now, I tend to get more invites than I have time to do as a Gold rated tester, and I have picked out a number of companies that I like doing work for. All in all you get paid for what you want to put into it. Who knows, perhaps you will learn a new skill in the process! :) In conclusion, if you sign up and only have a Windows XP desktop and a flip phone you aren’t going to get much ,so perhaps this set up is not for you; because there are a whole lot of testers with every device known to man out there, and they are going to get the cycles!

  5. You stated: “The bottom line is good testers can make good money working at uTest.”

    So what is good money? 2K per month 3K? 5K? 8K?

    Could you provide the following:

    1. The top monthly earners average monthly earnings.

    2. Average monthly earnings of someone who’s exactly the 90th percentile earner.

    thx!

    • That statement is intentionally vague, because every tester’s situation is completely different. However, I can point out this official statement:

      Many Gold uTesters earn between $1,000 and $10,000 per month. However, they all started on a slow and steady ramp, before receiving more and higher-paying projects.

      source: http://university.utest.com/getting-started/

      • Thx for the response. I saw their statement. I personally am making around 1300 per month right now. In my mind, given how much work it takes to make that, I think 4K would be about the max you could make. It is true that getting a lot of junky little tests slows you down a lot. If I could only get more bigger cycles.

        I’ve been doing it steadily for 2 months and am a high silver rated tester.

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