When it comes to legit free surveys sites, Opinion Outpost is an easily recognizable name for many folks (for some even more recognizable than Swagbucks or Global Test Market) who like the idea of earning money through market research study participation.
However, the very concept of earning money by taking surveys raises the red flag in the minds of many people. Which is why so many people think there is some kind of Opinion Outpost scam going on.
Although the old adage “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t” still holds true, it’s thoroughly misplaced when talking about this particular panel.
I can attest to this from my own personal experience. As a taker of such online surveys for many years, I’ve managed to earn a nice sum of money in my spare time.
Talking of numbers, I have received more than 25 checks with the combined earnings touching the $3000 figure. So yes, these guys are anything but scammers.
However, as I explained in my Ipsos iSay review, that’s my past experience. To get a fresh feel for the site and how it operates currently, I am going to sign up and show you the inner working of it and whether this panel is still a legit viable option for survey takers to make money or if the panel has downgraded to a scam site.
About the Company
OpinionOutpost.com is run by one of the leading international marketing research firms, Survey Sampling International LLC or SSI, who by the way runs the other famous online panel, SurveySpot, as well. So, the parent company is completely legit and reputable.
So far so good. But as always I had to check with the Better Business Bureau to see how the sites holds out with them. Now, I couldn’t find much information under the panel name, which is understandable since the parent company runs the whole thing.
So, I looked at Survey Sampling International, LLC profile on BBB. The company has the highest rating any company can get from the BBB which is an A+ rating on a scale of A+ to F. That said, I was kinds of surprised to see almost 261 total closed complaints against the company.
Most of which were related to “Product / Service” and “Delivery Issues” both of which are related to how they treat panelists and how efficient they are at sending checks to members. There were a few other complaints too, but those were Advertising and Sales issues which don’t have anything to do with panelists.
The good news is that all complaints were dealt with properly and so were closed. Plus, almost all panel related complaints were from back in 2007 when they used to pay by check (more on that later).
Understanding How Survey Panels Work
Before we get into reviewing Opinion Outpost, for those of you new to this industry, let me explain quickly what the whole deal is.
Surveys, both offline and online, are an integral part of any company’s market testing tactics. Rarely will you ever chance upon a product (especially consumer goods) that has not already been put through a few user surveys.
The main aim of these surveys is to help the parent company gauge the real life response to its product. This is no different than a car being made to undergo road trials before its deemed fit for public launch.
This is where survey companies step in. Companies hire survey panel providers like Opinion Outpost and Pinecone Research who in turn hire the services of willing people and pay them for their personal opinions about the said product or service.
Although people might find this a bit strange, it indeed is the best and most cost-effective way for companies to garner opinions from real-life consumers in a direct manner.
And considering the number of products and services being launched every day, it’s easy to see why taking surveys is such a well-paying and hassle free job.
Detailed Review of Opinion Outpost
I intend to write down a fair review of this panel for the reader’s benefit, and to help keep my judgment and experience relatively raw, I decided to sign-up with the site with a new account to see how its doing in 2013. Please note that I’ve been a part of the site since a few years back and have been taking surveys for many years, up until 2012 and beyond.
Like most website registrations, here too you are asked to dispense with your personal details before you are sent an email confirming your membership. However, some people find this a bit too intrusive.
At the same time, it’s important that you consider this as a qualifier that helps you graduate to taking full surveys, which is also why you need to be honest when filling up these details.
An interesting thing about this site is the western theme they have chosen for their site. It does kind of take you back for a minute when you first arrive at the site seeing cowboy hats, old town hall icons etc. (update: It seems like they have changed their western theme into a clean blueish design.) But over all the site has an incredibly easy and user friendly navigation system.
One of the instantly noticeable things about Opinion Outpost is that a lot of questions thrown at would-be members are of personal nature. These “Member Profile” surveys include detailed questions on you, your family, occupation, income and even shopping habits and preferences.
The key here is to understand that the site uses this information to direct a particular member to more targeted surveys instead of general ones. The money is also more with targeted surveys (>$50 usually) compared to general ones.
Unfortunately, unlike many other survey sites such as Global Test Market that give you points or cash for filling out profile surveys, this panel does not.
However, keep in mind that although filling out all these minute demographic details can be time consuming, it has its pay-off in being allowed to earn handsomely by taking paid surveys put up by the site that matches your profile.
The site’s referral policy is also quite friendly and pays a dollar for every referral by you.
The site rewards its members with what they call “Opinion” Points. Naturally, the number of points you earn depends heavily on the length and topic of the survey. As is custom in the industry, the longer a survey is, the more it pays out.
You can expect to earn anywhere from 10 to 100, and in some cases up to 250 points, per survey (although those are rare). Every Opinion Point equals roughly about $0.10.
They also have what they call “Opinion Outpost instant win” where one lucky panelists wins $10000 from their cash giveaway. This happens every quarter.
They pay via PayPal or you can redeem your points for a variety of gift certificate from various online and offline shops, including Amazon and Restaurant.com. And you need a minimum of $10 or 100 points to cash out via PayPal, while the minimum for Gift certificate redemption is 50 points.
The site used to pay members via check. However, they have changed this policy and adopted a new way to reward members. The company states the reason for this new policy stems from the increasing Check Frauds that are going on. And they explicitly say on their FAQ page that if you do receive any check with their name on it, do not deposit it to your account.
By the way you can learn about this scam which is also known as Mystery Shopping Western Union scam on FTC’s official site.
What Others Say?
This seems to be the big question bothering people genuinely interested in signing-up with Opinion Outpost. Although personally I have a favorable opinion towards them, I still decided to verify my own experience by scouting for some online reviews.
And the end result was a mixed bag. While many expressed satisfaction at receiving the promised money, more than a few were disgruntled about the fact that their money was held up by the site on account of “data concerns”.
That is the terminology used when a survey site suspects you of answering questions randomly or speeding through them. The bad thing about this is that quite a few genuine members had their payments red flagged on account of ‘data concerns’. Clearly, more work is needed here so as to not discourage honest members.
I also saw a few complaints regarding missed payments. Again, personally I’ve never experienced that with them. A thing to be noted here is that most such complaints were from 2007 or before. Since then, the site has adopted a digital payment system (PayPal or direct back transfer) which ruled out any discrepancies resulting from changed contact or address information.
- Lots of survey invitations, to the point where sometimes you feel like telling them slow it down a bit, lol.
- Cool options for cash out, including PayPal and gift certificate from various big bands. You can also use your points for donation to Red Cross.
- Most surveys are easy to qualify for (at least I did qualify for almost all surveys I was invited too). Which I think comes from those detailed profile surveys you complete when you first sign up with Opinion Outpost. It lets them send you only surveys that they know you qualify for helping you not waste your time.
- If you don’t qualify for a given survey, they will enter you to their sweepstakes, or (I love this, it’s a nice gesture form the company) they will donate $0.10 to the Red Cross on your behalf.
- No spam or advertising emails.
- Customer service has been getting better and better.
- There are lots of survey that pay around $1 – $2. But I guess when you receive 3-4 invites a day, you are bound to get low paying ones as well.
- They need to fix the member dashboard as I have noticed one time a survey that I did not qualify for kept showing up on my survey profile as “Started”.
- Sometimes if you don’t qualify for a survey, it will remain on your list for weeks as “Started.”
- The only accept members for a few western countries including United States and Canada.
Is Opinion Outpost Safe?
As you can tell from reading this review and those of others I have mentioned here, the site is one of the most popular ones when it comes to paid surveys.
So, summing it up, I would throw my weight behind Opinion Outpost confidently, thus recommending you to join this legit panel.