Are product tester promotions a scam?
March 10, 2005 10:01 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone signed up for one of these sketchy-looking "get free stuff for being a product tester" sites? (example.) What disaster, if any, has befallen you? What expensive personal electronic devices, if any, have you received for "free"?
posted by Tubes to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
I used to write for a gadget website and got a free chording keyboard and a $300 brenthaven laptop bag, among other things.
posted by mecran01 at 10:29 PM on March 10, 2005

Oy. Have you taken the time to read the "Free Gift Participation Restrictions and Privacy Policy" in the example you link? From a very brief scan: (1) they will sell your personal info to whoever they want, (2) you don't get the freebies until you enroll and complete some third-party "offers," (3) said offers may require you to spend money, (4) you may be held responsible for showing evidence that you actually completed the offers, (5) there are tight deadlines which may be difficult to make.

It's a surprisingly honest document, really. I would have expected something much more evasive.
posted by Galvatron at 10:35 PM on March 10, 2005

My younger brother and a whole bunch of his friends got free ipod shuffles through the "get a free ipod shuffle" banner ads. They had to sign up for free trial runs of various products, and if they didn't cancel the trials they'd have to pay moola. At least in my brother's case, he got the shuffle without and managed to cancel all the trials with ease.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:40 PM on March 10, 2005

I've done the same as croutonsupafreak's brother, and recieved two ipods. However the type sites are a different sort of beast than the ones you seem to be referring to. The type sites are pyramid schemes, so if you get 5 helpful friends, you're set. These other sites seem to be scarier.
posted by sirion at 10:46 PM on March 10, 2005

An ex-coworker of mine signed up to be a mystery shopper which led to her signing up as a product tester and she loved it. She got a bunch of free stuff to test (including a few big-ticket electronic items). Unfortunately I never thought to ask her which site she went through. I do know that she had to pay a small fee to sign up. That made the whole thing seem a little shady to me but she claimed it was worth it.

I would suggest reading all the terms and conditions closely. If I can track down my old coworker I'll try to find out which site she went through.
posted by LeeJay at 1:39 AM on March 11, 2005

There was a thread on this about a week ago. You may want to try and track that down as well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:04 AM on March 11, 2005

Try searching for "free ipod conga line" if you can't convince any friends to sign up (re: scheme, where you complete one offer and refer 5 people).
posted by pikachulolita at 3:38 AM on March 11, 2005

One of the only successful "free things for testing" things I've ever done was signing up to be a Keynote Research Panel member (formerly the company was called Vividence). Basically, you take short quizzes (like, "Do you bank online?") and if you "pass," you are asked to do usability/user experience testing of a site. You have to install some software that allows you to take notes and receive/complete tasks within a browser (ie) session, but if they feel your review was done in "good faith," they send you a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

It's kind of time consuming (30 - 45 minutes per review), so the $10 for that time doesn't seem that super...but, for me, usability is my thing, and I actually get a dorky kick out of it. The gift certificates are pretty nice too.
posted by tpl1212 at 7:21 AM on March 11, 2005

Heh, I just got an email from Keynote this morning. I didn't qualify for their survey, but I have done them in the past and they're pretty easy. tpl1212 is right, they are kind of time consuming, but they have always interested me so it's not a bad deal.
posted by Coffeemate at 7:59 AM on March 11, 2005

There was a thread on this about a week ago. You may want to try and track that down as well.

Hmm. I just ran some searches and haven't come up with anything. Lots of good input here though!
posted by Tubes at 11:04 AM on March 11, 2005

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