Pinecone Research Review: a Hard to Join Paid Survey Scam?

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PineCone Research has certainly started people talking about it recently. It is indeed strange that any conversation revolving around online survey panels does not make this site as an inclusion.

In light of the heightened interest, I felt I probably owed our readers here at Survey Satrap a comprehensive review on this intriguing survey panel. So here it goes…

Quick Note:

PineCone is currently accepting members. So, if you want to get in, be sure to sign up now before they close the doors which they will do shortly.

Some Background

PineCone is owned by the Nielsen Company, which happens to be the parent company of AC Nielsen Bases as well.

The site may have generated positive buzz around itself from netizens, but in the eyes of the Better Business Bureau, it only deserves a D rating, on a scale from A+ to F.

But that largely happens because the company does not generally use that profile on BBB. An official and comprehensive profile could be found under the holding company, Nielsen, which is a BBB Accredited Business since November 2010, and it has the highest A+ rating.

PineCone Research Contact info

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Sign Up Link?

The panel is open to anybody in the US and Canada, so long he or she is at least 13 year old. But if you visit the site, you will notice there is no sign up link!

That’s because this panel, unlike other sites such as Survey synovate does not actively seek out new members all year round. So, finding an application link is pretty hard.

What one has to do to register with the site is to find a PineCone banner on the web. That is the most basic prerequisite for anyone who aspires to be a new member there.

The banner link is embedded in many popular personal financial or frugality blogs. Alternatively, you may want to bookmark this page and pop in once a while as I regularly include that sign up link inside this page whenever they open their doors.

 

PineCone Research Review

After a successful registration, you will be required to fill out your profile, so that the site can get in touch with you via e-mail whenever there are matching surveys.

The surveys are hosted on a different website, and they will assign a password to you so that you can be granted entry.

One part of the whole PineCone experience that is truly gratifying is on the occasions when a company would rather you try out its product at home.

The site makes no attempt to tell you about this arrangement beforehand. A box might just suddenly drop at your doorstep a few days after you’ve completed the survey, with instruction on how to carry out the new product testing.

After I’ve become a member here, I was once selected for such in-home product testing. The moral of the story is that this does happen though it happens rarely.

It is a double whammy. First you get paid for the survey that you are obviously qualified, and you are going to be paid again (I must say that this is a much more generous payment compared to what you would have got by simply completing survey) for your time and effort to test and evaluate the new product!

One remarkable aspect of this research firm is the professionalism and user friendliness about their business.

I have had a few interactions with the company ever since I enrolled as a member, and every piece of my communications to the company has been greeted with polite and timely responses.

Once I had trouble with the PayPal side, and the customer service officer was so helpful that she seemed to take it upon herself to get the matter resolved.

There are many survey panels out there, but I’ve never come across another one that pulls off such excellent service.

Available surveys screenshot

Rewards

The reward system at PineCone is among the finest you can find in the market.

It is common practice among survey panels to regularly ask their members for updates in the form of short surveys. The objective is to make it easy for the survey panels to match suitable candidates with upcoming surveys. There is no payment in such exercises. Well, this site is no exception. But one difference is that after you have completed one such survey, chances are a better paying survey would soon come your way.

If you prefer to be paid through PayPal, the payment can be credited into your PayPal account within 24 hours from tackling that particular survey. They can also handle check payment but obviously the turnaround time is going to take longer.

How much you get paid for individual survey depends also on your seniority at the site.

When they first get started on the web, every panelist was rewarded $5 for every survey completed. Nowadays, the starting rate for newbie is two dollars per survey. The rate will then move up progressively as new members tackle more and more surveys.

Quite a few members have told me that they were already in the $3 bracket upon completion of just a couple of surveys.

 

Views from Around the Web

I generally think that most of the people are positive about this company based on the number of good feedback collected. But I guess the biggest contributing factor behind these positive feeling is that the site does pay promptly.

Cons

  • Honestly, the only downside for me is that one never knows when the site is actively soliciting for new members. It also doesn’t help that this does not happen common enough.

Pros

  • There is no restriction on cash out amount. Check payment or PayPal credit is issued whenever a survey is done.
  • It has a friendly support system.
  • A very comprehensive FAQ section that covers every possible question a member can ask.

 

Scam Alert

There is no chance of PineCone Research being a scam. Its operation is completely legitimate and it has fantastic working relationship with many established and international brands.

But if you look at the BBB website carefully, you would have noticed a scam being reported in August 2012. Apparently, some fake company has made use of PineCone’s name and logo to pretend to commission a survey. Soon newly registered members were asked of their financial details, and implored to carry out money laundering activities. Some victims are allegedly to have lost well over $3000 in this scam.

Another scam was a “mystery shopping” assignment, where the victim is given a fake check and told to cash it and use some of that money to send it to someone in another place to “test” how Western Union wire transfer service works. Of course, as you can imagine, the victim sends the money through Western Union and a few days latter finds out the check has bounced. The money the victim has sent, of course comes out of her or his own bank account!

This “mystery shopping” or “Western Union Check” scam is so big that even the FTC has put up a page warning people about it.

Fortunately, Pinecone was very quick to respond. They have put up a Security Notice page where they warn people about this scam and how to protect themselves. In this page which can be seen here, the company gives one big tip…

“…Furthermore, all communications with us will always be with the email address “scott@pineconeresearch.com” — be wary of any email that asks you to respond to a different address, or asks you to respond by clicking on a link within the email.  (Please be aware that email sending addresses can be faked, and so it’s possible for a fake email to appear to have come from this address.)…

So, please be careful and always always do your research before responding to anything like that. Always check the address bar in your browser to make sure that it shows the official site. Never trust those mirror sites, and never surrender personal information to any ambiguous party.

Furthermore, if you are targeted by any of these scams, you can report it to your local law enforcement agencies, or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “econsumer.gov” reporting system in the United States or the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre in Canada.

 

Last Word

PineCone can be a worthwhile option if you are exploring ways to improve your income. There are many survey panels out there. But in term of balancing the commitment to paying customers and commissioned panelists, nobody does it better than this panel. So, your earning potential is high, if you can find that elusive Pinecone research sign up link and become a member.

If you have to only sign up for one site, I would recommend you choose Ipsos-iSay. Ipsos is the most fun and well-paying panel. Give it a try to see how you like it. It's free anyway!

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