In recent times, Opinion Outpost seems to manage to pull together an ardent fan base. Some of those fans are not shy in saying that Opinion Outpost is even bigger time than Swagbucks or Global Test Market. To these folks, I rest my case.
Nevertheless, I must say that if you are looking to make some money while contributing to the field of market research studies, Opinion Outpost is definitely a viable choice.
As strange as it may sound, there are still segments of our population who are highly skeptical about how one could make money out of participating in market research. It is these lingering doubts in the market that words start to go around on Opinion Outpost being some kind of scam.
In general, one is taught not to believe in too much of good things packed into a small package. But when it comes to Opinion Outpost, this theory may not necessarily hold true, at least in my opinion.
I am not simply saying this. I stake my experience as a qualified online survey panel reviewer for many years. While doing this, I have also clocked in hours to do such works and managed to pull in a small fortune along the way.
The money is decent. All in all, in the past few years that I have been a member here, Opinion Outpost has sent me over 30 checks with combined pay out in excess of $4000. In light of this solid income proof, it is hard for me to believe that Opinion Outpost is out to con people money.
Having said that, as I tried to keep stressing on my individual review on various survey panels (Ipsos iSay included), my income is just evident from the past, nothing more or nothing less.
In order to gain a new perspective on the operation of the website, I will start fresh and register as a new member. All of these are done for the sake of getting clarity and validation that the present setup is still a fully legitimate business, one that does not stray out from the straight and suddenly turns itself into some sort of scam operation.
Opinion Outpost happens to be the full subsidiary of the much-recognized international market research company, Survey Sampling International LLC or SSI.
The parent company is active in the online survey market, with another notable subsidiary, SurveySpot, which enjoys as much popularity as with Opinion Outpost.
These all suggest that Opinion Outpost, especially its parent company, is certainly not a setup that is up to no good.
Better Business Bureau’s Rating
While this is positive background information, I simply got to see how the website measures up in the eyes of the Better Business Bureau.
As Opinion Outpost, there is no indication of the company on the BBB website. This should not get your alarm bell ringing, as the parent company is the master mind of the website.
I next tried to dig up information on Survey Sampling International, LLC profile on BBB. I was immediately impressed as the BBB holds such high esteem of the company and deems it excellent enough to warrant an A+ rating. Now, you can’t possibly get a better score than that, on a scale of A+ to F.
Good as it is, there are still some 261 cases lodged against the company, but they are all resolved at the time of my checking.
An overwhelming majority of the complaints are targeted at “Product / Service” and “Delivery Issues”. These two are often related to how they treat panelists and how fast their payment system works.
These aside, there were also cases on miscellaneous issues too, but they all concerned Advertising and Sales, so these have no barring on their panelists, or members in general.
It is gratifying that they take these complaints seriously and all cases were dealt with promptly and appropriately.
Another notable point is that almost all panel related cases were dated as far back as in 2007, when check used to be the only option for Opinion Outpost then (I will talk more about this later).
A Quick Note About Paid Surveys
As we gear ourselves towards the comprehensive review of Opinion Outpost, I want to take some time off to focus on the nature of work here, and online survey panels in general. This would be beneficial if you happen to be new in this market.
Regardless of off-line or online surveys, market research represent a critical component of companies’ go-to-market strategies. It is unfathomable in this age and time, few companies would rush into market with their new products not getting some form of feedback from some sampling of user surveys.
The objective is clear enough: it is to solicit users’ input before new products are put into market. You can imagine some new car models being subjected to various tests before manufacturers announced their availability.
It is during this time when survey panels get into the game. Businesses are willing to pay good money to companies such as Opinion Outpost and Pinecone Research so that they could commission surveys that involve real people to offer their opinions and feedback with regards to the related products and services. Naturally, these survey participants will be compensated for the services offered.
You may wonder what the rationale is for businesses to invest on something like users’ response and feedback from just a selected few, when the market is so huge. The fact is that there is no other effective way to gauge how the market would respond to new products and services, if you count out such surveys.
When you think about the streams of products and services being introduced to the market on continual basis, you would be convinced that survey participation is almost a guaranteed proposition.
Detailed Review of Opinion Outpost
As I regularly mentioned in my reviews, the objective is to help readers to understand how individual online survey panel measures up against the competition.
For this review to be useful, it needs to stay relevant with time. For this reason, I signed up with Opinion Outpost fresh, so that I could report back to you about the company in the current context, instead of relying on my own past experience dealing with this website.
Consistent with other survey panels, you will be prompted for some personal details during the registration.
Upon successful completion of the sign-up process, e-mail will be sent to you to confirm your status as a member.
Some will complain that the nature of questioning tends to get a bit too personal. But the fact is that these questions are structured in a way that helps Opinion Outpost to zero in on qualified candidates for the various kinds of surveys. Regardless of your opinions on this issue, you would have to fill up the fields that are provided, if you are serious in making survey participation a source of income.
Some also find it interesting that the website takes on a Western kind of look and feel. It could be reminiscence on the part of the Web designers, but it is certainly refreshing to see some websites choose to have liberal layouts on their websites rather than the usual corporate feel (update: seems like the Western themed look did not stay long enough, the last I checked, it is not dominated by clean blue lines). Nevertheless, the interface part of the website is still pretty friendly.
But back to your own personal profile that you are supposed to fill up: Yes, it does get personal as some of the questions are particularly targeted at you (as in who you are, your family members, occupation, income bracket and your usual shopping preferences and habits).
Let me try to explain this without appearing outright defensive on this line of questioning. It is important for survey panels to know some specific characteristics of would-be survey takers, as they map up who could be suitably qualified for certain surveys that are more focused in nature. Of course, these specific surveys would pay more (in the $50 range) than the more generic ones.
The one peeve I have is that Opinion Outpost does not pay you for your time in filling up your personal profile. Some like Global Test Market actually awards you points for just doing that.
At the end of the day, there is simply no escape, as invariably all survey panels want to extract such personal information from you.
On the positive side, such exercise helps to properly match potential candidates with intended surveys, and that could save you time and hassle, as you don’t have to deal with tons of unsuitable surveys going down the road.
There is also a referral program in place, and you will be rewarded one dollar for every new member you bring in to the website.
Here, the rewards are pay out in the form of “Opinion” Points. Consistent with other surveys in the market, your rewards will ultimately be decided by the nature and the length of the individual survey. It has become a norm in the industry where companies pay more when lengthier surveys are involved.
Individual survey at Opinion Outpost pays in the range of 10 – 100. In exceptional cases (though very rarely), the company can pay out as much as 250 points for one single survey. You can roughly equate one opinion point to $0.10.
There is also this thing called the “Opinion Outpost instant win” that is conducted quarterly. It is sort of lucky draw contest where winning member can hit a cash pile of $10,000.
You can choose to get paid through PayPal, or simply opt to have your points in exchange of various gift certificates.
They have a fairly well-supported partner program that boasts of online giants like restaurants.com and Amazon. You will find also some prominent offline shops in the program as well.
For cash out through PayPal, you will need to have at least 100 points (or $10 equivalent) in your balance. If you opt for gift certificates, the minimum requirement is 50 points.
In the old days, payment was made strictly through check only. But the company listened to feedback and decided to replace it with PayPal and gift certificates as the payment options.
Officially, the company cited the reason behind this policy change was largely due to the increasing occurrences of check fraud. It is also stated in their FAQ page that members should not deposit any check allegedly from the company, even though the check may bear the company’s name.
If this check fraud thing raises your curiosity, you may want to check out this FTC’s page on Mystery Shopping Western Union scam.
What is the Collective Feedback from the Market?
Ultimately, you would like to know what the market is saying with regards to Opinion Outpost before you sign up with the company. Personally, I’m actually pretty fond of them. But for the completeness of this review, I have decided to venture out into the Internet to see what others got to say about it.
Apparently, people really do have mixed feelings. Some expressed gratitude in being able to receive the money promised, while some complained about instances where Opinion Outpost refused to pay out due to some “data concerns”.
This is the industry’s speak for the negligence on the part of the panelists. In general, it refers to the members’ inclination to speed through the surveys, or the tendency to selectively fill up the survey form. While the company may be justified in its action with regards to data concerns, such bad publicity does not do any good in attracting new members.
Some also claimed that they never received any payment upon the completion of their surveys. I never have come across this situation, but I am in no position to speak for the entire membership of OO. But I also notice that most of the negative feedback were dated back to 2007 or even earlier. That was the time when check payment ruled. With this shift to digital payment system (direct bank transfer or PayPal), such complaints have dropped drastically.
- Got frequent invites to surveys. The frequency is so intense that one is tempted to tell them to cut themselves some slack, lol.
- Multiple cash out options: with my favorite PayPal credit and gift certificates supported by a variety of big bands. You can also channel your earnings into charitable causes like Red Cross.
- Qualification process seems straightforward and even easy (speak from my own experience, I often qualified for surveys where I was invited to do). I attribute the good matching to the detailed profile surveys one has to complete upon registration at Opinion Outpost. This is why I advocate take a careful and honest approach as you fill these out as it increase your chance of getting invitations and ultimately qualifying for the related surveys. Another plus is that you can save precious time.
- If you fail to qualify for one reason or another, you will get a chance to enter their sweepstakes, or (this is why OO is so endearing to me, at least) they will make donation of $0.10 to the Red Cross in your name.
- The company does not engage in spam or advertising emails.
- An excellent customer support service.
- Too many surveys fall in the range of $1 – $2. But if you get your profile right, the more generous sort of surveys will ultimately find you, just a matter of timing.
- They could do with some improvement on the member dashboard. There are times when I noticed that surveys that have nothing to do with me kept popping up on my survey profile and marked as “Started”.
- The above point is also observed for surveys that you don’t qualify for.
- Memberships are strictly restricted to some developed western countries, with United States and Canada included.
How Safe is Opinion Outpost?
My take is that any survey panel that enjoys such popularity across the panelists over time certainly deserves its credential as a legit on-going business concern.
And my conclusion is clear. Opinion Outpost is certainly one company I would stake my reputation on, and it ought to feature on your radar in you are serious about making some earnings from filling out surveys.