He who dares

Day 8
Schemes active/complete: 15
Money made: £0.16

Two updates since I last posted. One of them is very boring and the other is slightly less so. Let’s get the dullest out of the way first.

Receipts! I bloody love a receipt. I’m always requesting them even after the most tiny and trivial of transactions. At least I am now, what with Scheme #71: Scan your shopping underway.

Originally the plan for this one was to register with a couple of market research companies whose voyeuristic interest in your weekly grocery shop is so high that they’ll post you out a handheld barcode scanner for you to track everything you purchase, and pay for the privilege of snooping. There are two organisations who will do this – ShopandScan & The Nielsen Panel – and between them I thought getting my hands on one of these portable scanners would be simple, meaning I could soon be happily feeding these companies the mounds of data on how many beers and creamy desserts I get through a week.

Unfortunately this seemingly straightforward task was nigh on impossible. Firstly ShopandScan doesn’t let any old sloppy shopper into its esteemed club, you have to be provided an invitation number by an existing member, like you’re trying to join the Magic Circle or the Freemasons. Without a foot in the door the only way of receiving an invitation is to join their waiting list so that’s exactly what I’ve done, but some forum posts suggest this is fruitless so perhaps I’ll just have to keep an eye out for a ShopandScan member whose life I can save before I get invited into the inner sanctum.

As for Nielsen there’s no invitation process but you’re forced to trudge through an exhaustive survey before you’re allowed any further. Right at the start of this questionnaire I was asked if I worked in advertising, and I truthfully responded that yes, my 9-5 consists of selling adverts in the local newspaper, only to be told I was unable to continue with my application. With a slight frown I simply clicked back a page, amended my answer to say that no no, I did not work in advertising, not I, and was permitted to continue.

The questions rolled on for an eternity. I was asked about every facet of my being, including whether I was a vegan and if I owned a bread-maker or not. Finally once I’d completed the lot I hit ‘Submit’ to find out whether I was an eligible candidate and after some minutes was taken to a page which was confusing and wrong and inexplicably French.

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Perplexed, I brought up Google translate. “Vous avez été selectionné pour la suite” means “You have been selected for the following” so I thought all was good, if a bit too francophilic for my taste, until I saw what it said at the bottom.

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My suddenly-not-an-advertiser ruse had been rumbled! Disastrous, I thought I’d been so wily!

Thankfully I found a close substitute to these two in ReceiptHog, a free to download app which pays you every time you send them a photo of a receipt. A £5 receipt earns you 5 points, £10 receipts bag you 10, etc, and once you’ve reached 1,000 points ReceiptHog will grunt out $5 into your PayPal. This may seem a ludicrous wherewithal just for $5, but as receipts are something we all amass anyway and either throw away or forget and leave in a pocket to get converted into a claggy blanket of pulp by the washing machine, it’s worth the three seconds it takes each time to send a photo across. I’ve discovered they don’t even necessarily have to be your receipts, so it’s not just coins I’m constantly scouring the ground for now (#61), it’s other people’s discarded ReceiptHog fodder.

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Moving into more interesting territory than the Tesco receipts of strangers, the other money maker I’ve been looking into is Scheme #125: Do some dares. There are three sites I have found which revolve around the premise of setting dares for random fools to complete with a cash incentive behind each one, namely We Dare You To, Pickle, and Double Dog. Humiliating, self-destructive behaviour is very much my home turf so I plunged into these three with confidence.

We Dare You To looks to be a fair potential, reporting that it’s recently declared the cut off point for dares such as brushing your teeth with mustard, high-fiving as many people as possible, and peeling a banana without using your hands, all of which would have rewarded $5 upon completion. There’s no other live dares currently offering a cash prize – it gives me the opportunity to lick a cactus if I’d like, but that would only net me 40 arbitrary ‘points’ so that’s not something I’m going to do. Still, worthwhile checking back on this site every now and again to see if there’s any profitable dares going.

I can’t understand Pickle. Downloaded the app and all it showed me was my location on Google maps; it may be that you have to come across other people with Pickle in order to initiate a dare transaction, but if that’s the case there’s no one else with that app within a 500 mile radius of me so I’m not going to waste my time on it any further.

The Double Dog app however works well, and it is this which has been inflicting torture upon me for the past 2 days. I’ll try to explain it as concisely as possible – upon first downloading the social game you are given the greenhorn status of “Puppy” and a cache of ‘bones’ which work as substitute currency. Once you’ve worked up the ranks you can play in “Elite” mode which is where you can start playing with real money.

To give a dare you can either write your own challenge or select from a stock list of Double Dog’s own dares which extends into the thousands. You then have to attribute a value to that dare – if you’re a puppy you can bet, say, 10 bones on it, or if you’re an elite darer you can wager $5 on it, for instance. That dare is then sent out into the ether for someone to accept. If you want to take on a dare you select ‘Dare Roulette’ and are shown the amount at stake but not the dare itself, so you’re always going in blind. A 24-hour timer then appears denoting how much longer you have to carry out the task and send across photo or video proof; complete it and you win the money pledged, fail and it comes out of your account.

To complicate matters further you can eponymously ‘Double Dog dare’ whoever set you the challenge, which doubles up the money in the pot and means the darer now becomes the daree, and must perform his or her own stunt before the countdown runs out.

Naturally I began as a puppy and, not really understanding the rules, spaffed almost half my entire stash of starting bones on daring a user named Mark to serve a raw egg with a tennis racket. He swiftly riposted by double daring me, I declined as I don’t own a tennis racket, and within 5 minutes of downloading the app I’d lost basically all my bones. It was then I read that progression to Elite mode and the winnable money therein is only possible once you’ve set 10 dares, and I no longer had enough bones to set my 2nd. In order to climb the ladder out of my boneless gutter I’d have to start taking on and completing some dares, that was the only way I could win back enough to wager on the 9 remaining challenges I needed to become Elite.

My first task was from Redbeard – whose profile picture did, indeed, boast a hearty crimson beard – who dared me to eat a banana with the skin on it. Without a moment’s hesitation I was off to Tesco to buy some bananas, making sure to take a photo of the receipt of course (this is a bit meta but I just Googled “Tesco” to double-check it wasn’t “Tesco’s” and I wasn’t, sin of all sins, committing a typo, and Qmee informed me that doing so had just earned me 7p, so that’s nice of them.)

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In case you’re wondering, banana skin tastes fibrous and unpleasantly bitter. Regardless I was willing to eat the whole thing, but Double Dog sets a 7-second limit on its videos and thus I only had to take the one bite. With the bones this had earned me I could afford to challenge some other poor sucker to eat an unskinned banana, but the target Danny merely doubled this dare back onto yours truly. This was obviously convenient as I had a whole bunch of bananas next to me, but still there’s probably a medical upper limit as to how much banana peel it’s OK to ingest in one sitting.

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I endured several other tasks to get me out of bone poverty. I had to dance, build and wear “an awesome mask”, tell a short horror story (rather ironic after squeezing out the toilet-based misadventures of Calvin for Scheme #173 only earlier in the week), eat a handful of salt which literally made me vomit, and take a pie to the face. The last of these was assisted by Rowena who, and she claims “accidentally”, made a beeline straight for my left eye.

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I knew it hurt to get shampoo in your eye but I’d previously thought this was to do with the chemicals in it, so I was interested to note that whipped cream stings just as much.

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Finally I saved enough bones to throw out the 10 dares required to activate Elite mode and play with actual money. I deposited $10 in my account and fired up dare roulette. Time for things to get serious. As serious as a canine-themed app which encourages pies to the face can be.

The first dare I received, with a $1 prize pot, was from Jack L who challenged me to “Put the whole length of a cotton bud inside your nose without bending it (video proof)”. I’m normally proficient with taking on dares and pulling unusual stunts but still I blanched at this suggestion. Even with a big nose like mine that cotton bud would still be somewhere in the vicinity of my optic nerve so I decided to double dare Jack with that, we’ll see tomorrow if he’s capable of performing his own task.

With Jack sorted I hit the dare roulette button again to have a Robert challenging me to simply “Hold two real guitars,” again with $1 at stake. Now if I had two real guitars this would be a cinch, almost embarrassingly easy. Even if I had one it would help. But I’m a completely unmusical person and so had no guitars in my possession, let alone two.

My instinct was to stick it on a double dare like Jack and his soon-to-be-surgically-removed Q-Tip, but I held back. For Robert to propose a dare such as this it was very likely he owned a couple of guitars, and churned out this guitar dare for a dollar a pop to guitarless plebs like me hoping to be double dared to accrue $2 at a time. This is exactly why Double Dog describes itself as a strategy game, it’s like chess only with more bananas involved.

I took the dare, the countdown began and I started thinking of where I could get my paws on a pair of guitars. My first thought was the local guitar shop Strike Don, somewhere I have never, ever been inside. I set off at a brisk pace, planning to blag to the proprietor that I was looking to buy a guitar for a fictitious brother’s Birthday, subtly grabbing hold of a couple of fingerboards as I browsed. However as this was a Sunday I was concerned the place might be closed. It was only midday but you couldn’t be sure, especially not in the sleepy town of Westbourne. ‘Please be open,’ I repeated over and over in my head, ‘please be open, please be open, please be open.’

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Of course.

This sent me into a bit of a panic, exacerbated by the inexorable timer constantly ticking down on my phone. I even started searching the Argos website for how much it would cost to buy two guitars, but quickly dismissed this as a ridiculous idea even considering the diatribe in my last post about how I didn’t mind if my outgoings exceeded my income.

Short on ideas I returned to my flat to reassess. It was there I noticed Rowena’s ukulele, not strictly a guitar I know but it was something. An optimistic Whatsapp to my friend Chris asking if he owned a guitar paid dividends; he had a guitar to hand and before he could even ask why I needed to know I was slinging Rowe’s bright pink ukulele case over one shoulder and heading out the door, telling Chris I was on my way now and would explain when I got there. Half an hour later, success:

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I was anxious Robert wouldn’t credit the ukulele as a guitar and could reject my dare submission – when this happens dares are taken to “trial” and elite members can vote yea or nay – but thankfully he overlooked this and paid me my dollar. My first dollar! The first money I’ve made rather than found! It’s not sitting on my total earnings yet however, not until it’s safely in my PayPal, currently it’s stuck in the Double Dog app’s piggybank. They cheekily charge a 10% processing fee too, so really the total needs to be at least $20 before it’s worth withdrawing. I guess as well as Weegying and writing this blog and hunting down coins and all the other schemes I’m presently overloaded with, I’ll be doing a dare a day for the next fortnight or so as well.

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