Inspector Earnest - Q & A
Do you have a question about online surveys you would like answered? Inspector Earnest can help!
Just fill out the form below, and your question will be sent to Inspector Earnest, and may be featured on our website! Please note that questions regarding specific online survey panels should be directed to the panels themselves.
Do you think that survey companies that charge a one time only membership fee ($34) are legitimate? I have been looking for a company to try to make some extra cash but i'm very skeptical about the ones that charge a fee for you to work for them. I appreciate your answer.
It's a bit of a misconception that paying a fee to "survey companies" means you will be directly working for them. Basically when you pay this fee, the company will either provide you with special access to their website where they provide a LISTING of different survey companies, or they will simply send you the list in the form of an e-mail attachment.
Companies who charge a fee to access survey listings are not actual market research companies - they are simply websites who have tabulated large listings of survey companies and then resell them to consumers.
Paying membership fees or one-time setup fees for survey company listings is not something we particularly recommend for the following reasons:
Many of the companies listed in these databases are not actually survey companies - they are simply marketing companies who gather information and then resell it (see our article on pseudo-survey companies). It's important to be careful which of these companies you choose to provide your personal information to.
Canadians and other non-US residents should especially be weary of these lists as most of these listings contain the names of survey companies who only accept panelists from the USA. So although these lists may seem extremely large (400+ survey companies), you may only qualify as a panelist for a limited number.
On SurveyPolice.com our list of legitimate companies is around 200 - that's a lot! Registering with all of them would take a long time, and you must ask yourself if purchasing a list larger than this is something you would fully utilize.
That being said, you may wish to purchase a listing because of convenience. Sometimes these companies have organized these listings according to country, and this can save a lot of time. Also, it can be quite tedious to look up the names of so many companies and purchasing this type of listing may prove to be a time saver and frustration saver in itself.
In conclusion, we basically recommend exercising caution when considering purchasing survey listings. In some cases it might be worth paying a fee to access a database of survey companies, but do keep in mind that most of this information is already available for free on the internet.
How come online survey panels don't accept panelists under the age of 13?
Andrea D. from Calgary, Canada
In order to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), online survey companies do not allow panelists under the age of 13 to register directly with their online survey panel.
In many cases, the opinions of children are needed, so parents who register through these panels are asked to contact their children to see if they have interest in participating in a specific study.
In cases where children are contacted directly, a notice to parents is issued where information about the operator (i.e. the survey panel) is provided, the type of information collected is listed, as well as how the collected data will be used.
"Before collecting, using or disclosing personal information from a child, an operator must obtain verifiable parental consent from the child's parent."
Although most online survey panels limit their registration to individuals over the age of 18, there are exceptions. Some research companies open their panel database to those over 14, and sometimes the minimum panelist age is set at 16.