What: JustAnswer purports to pay experts in everything from engineering to medicine for answering consumer questions, but is best at generating complaints

Expected pay: speculative

Husl$core: $

Where: Nationwide

Commissions & fees: 50% to 80%

Requirements: expertise in a topic covered by the site 


JustAnswer sounds like a clever way for professionals to earn extra cash by sharing their expertise with consumers who need answers. However, appearances can be deceiving. We found a variety of red flags in the site’s terms, and even more when we started looking for “experts” who had worked for the service.

The bulk of the 233 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau were filed by customers — not experts. These complaints say that JustAnswer’s “free trial” automatically enrolls everyone in a costly monthly subscription plan.

But a few of the complaints also highlight our concerns for freelancers. Specifically, experts earn paltry pay, if they get paid at all.

Most questions appear to be answered for $5. Bloggers who have tested the service say that the typical expert gets a sorry 20% of that, but may be able to work their way up to getting half. (Don’t spent that $2.50 windfall all in one place.) But experts only get paid after their customers accept and rate the answer. If a customer doesn’t rate your answer, you don’t get paid at all. 

Moreover the site expects experts to plug in all sorts of personal information, including your Social Security number and resume, to “verify your expertise” before you answer any questions. That creates a security risk for very little potential return.

Worse, JustAnswer’s billing abuses could besmirch your good professional reputation if you choose to work for them.

Professionals have lots of flexible and well-paid job options with sites like FlexProfessionals, FreeeUp and SkipTheDrive. If you want to share knowledge online elsewhere, you might also consider the tutoring platforms, Wyzant and Varsity Tutors.

From the Better Business Bureau:

The company involved is an answering service in which I signed up to participate as an expert in my field to earn income. The issue I have is that I perform work and answered customer questions without compensation. The company agreement states that there is no guarantee that customers will rate my answers for a payment. The company requires customers to pay for memberships but does not pay the people they employ until a customer rates an answer. Most people will let the answer time out and the ticket gets closed without compensation.  I have emailed the company multiple times to resolve this issue but they refuse to respond. In the state of massachusetts the wage act states that an employer must be compensated for work performed including commission based sales.

From Glassdoor:

Customers don’t have to rate answers. Maybe 1/2 the customers do, and 1/2 of them don’t. JustAnswer will keep all the money unless the customer rates the answer. Works out great for them. A good or bad rating is based on customers mood/whether the correct answer was what they wanted to hear and how much bad news you needed to put into an honest answer, and their understanding of the site. If they don’t like the answer, you don’t get rated and you don’t get paid. 

Experts are paid ONLY if a customer gives them a good rating. Many people come to the site looking for free information or to get validation of their inflated value assessment. When their value assessment is not met, they will not accept the answer or will give a low rating so the expert does not get paid for providing well researched and valid information. Questions are now being diverted to the newer experts who are paid at a lower rate.

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