I have been uncharacteristically late in doing an American Consumer Opinion review. In recent years, ACOP has created quite a buzz among netizens. So I think its time for me to go inside and see what this site is all about.
You will learn from this review if the website is a clever scam, or if it actually deserves to be recognized as a fully legitimate paid survey panel. I will get started with some basic stuff like signing up for membership, and progressively move on to areas like their operation and the user experience.
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Decision Analyst, Inc. is the company behind American Consumer Opinion (ACOP). Decision Analyst, Inc. is a global marketing research and analytical consulting firm. Headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in US, the company is directly responsible for the operation of this paid online survey panel.
Decision Analyst has come a long way. It started life in Texas US in the summer of 1978 as a one-man setup. Now it has more than 175 staff on its payroll and boasts of a number of Fortune 500 companies as customers.
In 1996, the company created its online panel. Today the survey panel enjoys patronage from well over 8 million members across 150 countries. It is also a full fledged member for a number of reputable marketing associations; one of which is The Council of American Survey Research Organizations (or CASRO).
ACOP has also earned the trust of the Better Business Bureau, which ranked ACOP business as A+ (highest).
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My Review of American Consumer Opinion
There is no subscription fee for membership. At ACOP, membership is open to all in the world, unlike at other sites like PineCone Research or National Family Opinion (NFO). This is a huge relief for residents who may not live in the typical English-speaking Western countries like the UK, US and Canada.
I know this because I have received countless e-mails all across the world about legit survey panels, and from what I gather, there aren’t too many of them out there.
Even though the name ACOP suggests American centric service, it is the only survey panel I know to have no problem at all with multinational participants.
The site would require some basic details — things like your address, phone and e-mail — and after that you will be presented with a brief questionnaire:
True, they are designed to figure out who you are. Such information is important in the sense that the panel needs to fit you into some predetermined demographic so that appropriate surveys can be assigned to you.
If you duly fill them out, an Email Confirmation message would be sent to your inbox.
Check this message sent out by the company’s Vice President, Anne Parks, and click on the link inside.
And this is all it takes to qualify you as the latest American Consumer Opinion panelist, and you are ready to start taking surveys.
Generally average time required for typical paid survey does not take more than 5 to 20 minutes. Do take notice that the survey is not made available on ACOP site itself. If the panel feels that a certain survey may be suitable for you, it would send out an email with a link to the website that hosts the survey. If you get over the qualification criteria and complete the survey, there would be some credits due to you.
Involvement in the online focus group could be rewarding. I was once paid $45 for 5 minute for such study. In all there were 4 related surveys to be completed, so my taking was $180, not bad considering that I just need to spend 4 – 5 minutes in front of my screen for the purpose of these surveys.
It was no hassle at all. Once a quarter, I had to log in and register all my purchases over the last 3 months. Truth be told, it did not take more than 5 minutes to cover my purchases, so $180 reward is really generous for spending no more than 20 minutes typing away on my keyboard, even though the whole exercise had to stretch over one year period.
Make an effort to get involved in as many surveys (especially the focus group types) as practical and soon you will be able to see all these credits get accumulated nicely!
The reward system is based on points; points that keep track of your credits. The system is simple and straightforward, and it leaves no ambiguity. One point is the equivalent to one penny, and you need to get at least 1000 points (or $10 equivalent) before you can cash out.
As a rule of thumb, the number of points assigned varies in direct proportion to the time taken to complete a survey.
Those generic and straightforward surveys are not so rewarding. Typically you can earn about 50 points from such surveys.
For a more rewarding option, look out for surveys that are structured more comprehensively. A long survey would typically get you about 5000 points, or incentives like the opportunity to test out a free product.
I have been in this long enough to tell you that $50 (5000 points) is definitely a worthwhile return just to tackle one survey, regardless of the amount of time to complete one!
But before you can look forward to a windfall from such surveys, you would need to participate actively in those less-profitable surveys in order to improve your chance to gain entry to this sweepstake.
There is also an affiliation program at American Consumer Opinion. Every qualified member you introduced to ACOP will make you $.50.
Payment options include the old-fashioned check and American Express gift card, or if you prefer the online payment processor, PayPal. And remember the minimum amount you can cash out is $10.
What Others Think About ACOP
Survey participants tend to have loads of opinions, coupled with the fact that the survey panel has been in existence well over 10 years, it is natural that people have a lot to say about ACOP. But let us just summarize what got people talking:
- Invitations to survey don’t happen frequent enough. That may hold some truth. Personally I get about 4-6 invitations on monthly basis. But this should not be a reflection that every body is getting this pathetic number of invitations every month. Some people may get lucky.
- There are allegations that the survey panel would delete accounts just prior to getting the first payments.
- Complaints are also heard about the survey panel did not honor product testing points; this is after the members have put in decent time and effort to help out on the testing and feedback.
- A very unresponsive customer service, when they do respond.
- “Shutdown” of the site just when participants are midway through the questionnaire. ACOP has attributed the shutdown to an excessive amount of traffic. But this does little to placate those frustrated panelists as it means they have to redo the questionnaire all over again.
- No discrimination. All are welcome to register as members. One doesn’t have to be staying in the US or belonging to a certain age group in order to participate in the surveys. But in view of the fact that the questionnaire tends to revolve around employment and other mature-theme activities, teenagers are less likely to be drawn to it.
- Respect for privacy. There is no intention to sell you anything. Members are not harassed with marketing messages or advertisements, through their phones or e-mails.
- A fine reputation. This survey panel has long been established and it is highly regarded in the marketing research field.
- Carefully crafted questionnaire which ensure its relevancy in the current climate, though some members may complain the number may be too few.
- Decent payment.
- Members (by invitation only) who are willing to commit time and effort to conduct product testing may be rewarded with 5000 points and a new product.
- Good incentive to participate in focus groups, anywhere from $2-$180 for each group.
- For panelists with qualifications fall short of survey requirement, they are automatically entered into a $10,000 sweepstake, conducted monthly.
There is no doubt ACOP is legit. That said, it scores 5 out of 10 for me. Granted, it is never going to be a humongous cash cow, but you can be assured that your invested time would not go entirely wasted due to their fine reputation (A+ rating from BBB and industry recognition).
Still, my conclusion in this American Consumer Opinion review is that it can be a good place to be at if there is time to spare. But I suggest you to be on active lookout for other panels as well, especially those that do more regular invitations to surveys.
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