The popularity of Participatory Action Research (PAR) increases the risk of tokenism and blurring the boundaries of what might be considered ‘good’ PAR. This became a pressing issue when we were invited by the City of Amsterdam to conduct PAR on digital inequality with vulnerable citizens in Amsterdam, within serious constraints of time and budget. We decided to take up the challenge to offer citizens an opportunity to share their needs. This paper aims to increase the transparency of the complex reality of a PAR process in order to help new researchers learn about the challenges of PAR in real-life situations, and to open up the discussion on the quality and boundaries of PAR. Though we managed to implement some core ethical principles of PAR in this project, two were particularly under pressure: democratic participation and collective action. These jeopardized collective learning and might unintentionally feed stereotypes regarding people’s capabilities. Nevertheless, this small and local study did manage to create ripples for change.