Looking for opinions on ProductTestPanel.com.

OK gang, if any of you have any past experiences with a website called ProductTestPanel.com then I’d like to hear about them. I got an email this morning that I’m sure was little more than spam, but it caught my eye and piqued my curiosity. It basically said that Best Buy was looking for folks to participate in a Secret Shopper program during the holiday buying period and that if I signed up I’d be sent a $1,000 gift card that I could use to purchase whatever I wanted which I would be allowed to keep afterwards for nothing more than filling out a questionnaire about how my shopping experience was.

Now this immediately set off warning bells in my head especially seeing as the link provided didn’t have the words Best Buy anywhere in them, but money is very tight this year and even I am vulnerable to being tempted by a free grand to spend as I wish when faced with a possible empty Christmas tree this year. The link itself pointed to a subpage of a site called FineBaskets.net and if you go to the root URL for the site it displays a page about a company called “Bonus Bonez” with little info on what the company is about, but the full URL in the email ends up redirecting you to a page at RetailReportCard.com which is a subdomain of ProductTestPanel.com. The page presented gives some brief info on the Secret Shopper program that sums things up in three points: 1) Get FREE money to shop! 2) Complete a retailer survey. 3) Keep the things you buy! And it has a nice big picture of a $1,000 Best Buy gift card. There’s a small FAQ outlining what a Secret Shopper is expected to do such as pay attention to the layout, cleanliness, and friendliness of the clerks as they shop and so on. Finally, there’s a spot to put in your zip code to see if there’s any opportunities in your area.

So I put in my zip code and found out that none of the BBs in my area needed anymore Secret Shoppers, but Circuity City was and it had a similar $1,000 offer. Checking the terms and limitations it appears that this is all quite legit and about all I open myself up to is some direct marketing in both email and/or snail mail most of which may consist of offers to try out products for free in exchange for answering surveys about the products. Seems you can opt-in for additional freebies by accumulating “points” to qualify with by agreeing to various offers from marketers as well. You’re not required to participate in anything you don’t want to, though.

It sounds great, but I’m always leery of anything that seems too good to be true or something for nothing (or not much effort) so I haven’t rushed to sign up yet. Mentioned it to Deadscot and he says he’s participated in something similar from time to time, though I didn’t get a chance to ask him if this was the same program before he had to rush off to work. So I’m turning to my regulars to see if anyone else has taken these folks up on their offer? Is this legit or a scam? Let me know if you’ve had any experiences with this company and how it went and whether you think I should bother. It’s certainly a tempting offer that would be a big help with gift shopping this year, but I just can’t shake my cynicism of it.

110 thoughts on “Looking for opinions on ProductTestPanel.com.

  1. I’ll definitely look into that one, but like you, I am suspicious.  Most of the time gift cards and “free” stuff means you have to buy from advertisers that sponsor the “giveaway”.  I’m very much into surveys and market research online, but the only two I can say have put their money where their mouth is are Lightspeed Research and Pinecone Research.  It’s not a way to make really big bucks, but $25 here, $5 there and the occasional $60 survey do add up.  Actually, I’ve signed up for so many, including paid reading of e-mail, that I can’t even remember the names of the sites – and those pay around $2.00 and involve a survey as well.  My internet service is only $8.95 a month, so I expect all these alliances will at least pay for that.

  2. I’m sorry to report that this is just another internet scam.  Read the company’s privacy policy(it’s at the bottom). When you take part in their program, you agree that the company can:

    1.  Send you all the spam they want;
    2.  Sell your info to other companies

    That should raise a red flag, but
    when you read their “Specific Terms and Conditions” on the same page, you’ll find that in order to be “eligible” for your prize, you have to acquire what they refer to as “action points” from three of their “Offer Groups,” i.e. buy stuff from other companies. 

    So, you have to submit your contact info for use by whomever Consumer Research Corporation chooses to sell it to, and then you have to jump through a bunch of hoops and complete at least 3 other “offers” before you get your “prize.”  I’d stay away from this one if I were you.

  3. Being leery of something that sounds too good to be true is a good defense mechanism.Too bad some groups don’t apply this. Someone died for MY sins? . . . rose Lazarus from the dead? . . .rose himself from the dead on the third day? . . . HMMMMMM cheese

  4. It certainly does appear that you received a bogus offer.  They want to push their direct sales for an amount that will probably approach your $1000 gift card.  Which you may or may not receive before February.

    While this one is a marketing gimmick there are some good ‘Secret Shopper’ programs out there.  I participate in one and have received free movie passes, meals and small gifts.  I suspect that a good rule of thumb is to be suspicious of any program offering a fortune for nothing.

    We should have a Secret Bastard Christmas program.

  5. I get an e-mail from them every couple of days and it sure looks like spam to me. My sister tried to use them but she wouldn’t buy in to their deal and she didn’t get the card.
    Sorry to tell you.
    PAX

  6. You DO get the check, however, you also get tons of spam and you must complete two offers.  They have some decent offers that really aren’t painful, but after I went through just the sign-up my spam at gmail jumped from 1 a day to 60 a day.

  7. Yeah, after doing some more digging I’ve come to the conclusion that these guys are technically legit, but not worth the hassle. I’ve gotten at least three more emails from three different sources that all pointed back to this same company.

    Dammit, I hate it when my instincts are right sometimes. Just once it would be nice to come across something that’s too good to be true, but is anyway.

  8. Here’s a blog site that’s been tracking these people since summer 2004.  Its [url=http://www.netidiot.com]http://www.netidiot.com[/url].  Basically, the author “suspects” ProductTestPanel is a scam, but doesn’t outright accuse, in case they’re not…. He still leaves the logic to the reader to figure out…. why would you get a $2000 plasma TV for signing up for 4-6 offers, each worth maybe $20 apiece?  $120 for $2000?  Does the math make sense?

  9. Just once it would be nice to come across something that’s too good to be true, but is anyway.

    Purchase tax liens.  You get high interest, low risk. 

    Regards,

  10. I am a former employee of the company that owns “bonus bonez” – (jumpstart technologies, llc in san francisco)

    block anything from “minfo@…” or anything with an “X-Moxio” header if you want to whack the bonus bonez stuff.

    all of your information is collected and sold to whatever marketer will pay for it – your email address, and postal address/phone number (which is required to sign up for some of the ‘partners’)

    If you LOVE getting TONS of junk mail and also getting your friends pestered and spammed, good luck. note that some of the “offers” hit you with “just try this one last offer…” before you actually get anything. Overall, you’re very unlikely to get *anything* out of these “deals.”

    The company often just sends out the emails for its marketing partners, though.. so ‘bonus bonez’ might have nothing to do with the particular offer you’re going through.

  11. Thanks for the info b0b. Further digging did reveal that this wasn’t the amazing deal it was being presented as. Cynicism once again saves my bacon.

  12. these bastards are killing me with emails..ive unsubscribed 5 times and keep sending them emails but they wont stop..isnt there a law again this!!!

  13. There are anti-spam laws.  The difficulty is tracking down a legitimate corporate entity that a judgment can be collected against.

  14. Bonus Bonez is a weasel ‘company’…been receiving spam almost daily for a few weeks; Hotmail spam filter hasn’t adjusted yet.

    The spam is sent from a mail server of Xo.com; they haven’t shut the source off yet.  Laziness? Incompetence?  In league with the spammer?  This is how spam continues to flow.

  15. I’ve just started getting spam from this company.  The emails are very persuasive.  They’re saying that the email is a delivery confirmation for a PS2 and all I have to do is fill out a 3 minute survey. Then the weird thing was at the end, it was like someone forwarded the email but “accidentally” left an internal email at the bottom talking about the west door being locked or something.  They’ve also offered laptops and a “gift”.  But when you go to the root sites (listed above) they all point to bonusbonez.

    On a side note I got a spam from extremesharing which went to moxio, which other then the names, looks exactly the same as bonusbonez.  Coincidence?  My cynical side says no…

    [Edited to remove URLs so as not to give these jerks any more Google Page Rank than they already have.]

  16. Heh, I found this site by searching for info on them. Apparently I signed up for something that linked back to this crazy company, but it must have been long ago. I just reactivated my old Hotmail account and immediately received something like 20 spammails from them. If anyone can give me a “sure-fire” way to kill them in my spam filer, I’d be grateful. I recall that I used to use my Hotmail account for “the stupid stuff”—stuff I’d never sign up for or do on my other e-mail accounts. Normally my wacky e-mail account name cuts out a LOT of spam, but it never slowed any down on Hotmail. How an algorithm comes up with my login name—and most of my spam appears quite random—I’ll never know. But at this rate I’m going to let my Hotmail account die again, because it’s going to be next to worthless in no time flat! In this case, I actually feel sorry for ol’ Microsuck—I mean, er, Microsoft.

  17. PRODUCT TEST PANEL IS A FUCKING SCAM.

    I signed up with them about a month ago, thinking that I had them figured out like you did.  Endure the heavy marketing through email and snail mail, buy a few cheap products, and receive a $500 gift certificate to Walmart.  It sounded like it was worth it.

    There are SO MANY dishonest things about the setup of Product Test Panel that I won’t go into, because it would take up pages of explanations.  I got suckered into paying about $80 worth of shit, which would’ve ended up being nearly $1000 of shit if I hadn’t quit right away, and now I’m going through the hassle of getting a new bank account because I don’t want Product Test Panel to have my credit card info anymore.  Yeah, it’s THAT bad.

    To make a long story short, Product Test Panel is owned by Consumer Research Corporation…who is owned by Subscriberbase.  Because I’m infuriated at spending $80 when I have better things to spend money on (weed, new speakers, etc), I did some research.  And here is what I found…

    THE MASTERMIND OF THIS PRODUCTTESTPANEL SCAM IS BRIAN BENENHALEY.  I want all of you reading to know this.  Look up “Brian Benenhaley” on google and you’ll realize he’s a piece of shit human, and probably not coincidently, a chairman in the South Carolina Republican party.  He is the owner of Consumer Research Corporation and Subscriberbase.  I’m going to take my $80 worth fun and reveal his personal information that I found:

    Brian Benenhaley
    803.938.9037
    803.469.9245 (I found two numbers, dunno if they work)
    2685 Sandford
    Sumter, SC 29150

    I’m giving you his PERSONAL information because the email address and telephone number for his “companies” are utterly USELESS.

    Have fun with that information smile

    -Robert

  18. What a scumbag; thanks for the further info.  I hate marketers and I think these scams are based partly on forcing people to buy stuff that no one would want to buy – so their pathetic “businesses” can succeed by creating customers for non-products.
    /rant

  19. I notice a URL was editted up there to the jerks in question.  I think they have some sort of cloning system setup of their sites.  Cached pages reveal links back to them with sites talking about them, but if you visit the URL itself, it just looks like a directory.  Odd!  I have no idea right now as to why they would be doing that.  Maybe they think that if they get branded by search engines as being a “seedy place” on the Internet, folks they have links to will be considered “bad company” by the Search engines as well. (shrug)

  20. these bastards got me too…..if i was a lil more computer literate….id track them just to kick thier asses….so next time you see the big house on the hill and you think to yourself…“wow must be nice”…..well now we know alot of the elite rich ..are actually crooked bastards like (bonus bonez)owners so dont be so hard on yourself….try this next time you see someone rich and youre wondering how they got that why….just go up and SLAP THE SHIT OUT OF THEM!!!!!………AND RUN LIKE HELL IN CASE THEY KNOW KARATE….lol

  21. how the hell can i get rid of the shitty emails they keep sendin? most of em hav a stupid message at the bottom

  22. I received an offer for a free I-POD. I only had to check whether or not I wanted more information from about 50 advertised products. I checked NO on each. Then I got a list of another 50 products. Each of them wanted all my personal data, and most of them were for credit cards, insurance, mortgages, etc. The final page stated that I had to accept at least two offers or would be disqualified.  This was despite the claim that it was “absolutely free.”  Free, my rear end! It’s a scam.

  23. I also found this page by doing a search on the Bonus Boney company after getting spam from them.  My hotmail acct received an offer from Gevalia coffee with this Bonus Boney company listed at the bottom as the distributor.  I supposedly signed up for junk mail from this company somewhere, but I think that’s hooey.  My opinion of Gevalia has gone down dramatically after reading the comments posted on this webpage. 

    I don’t think I’ll bother with the unsubscribe feature, which sounds like it will be as bogus as their story on how I “signed up” for their e-crap, and as bogus as the offers they are associated with.

  24. I know this reply is a little late, but..eh..here goes.

    My stance on the matter of any spam is: Do not, under any circumstances, reply to or sponsor it.

    No matter if the deal is legit, or funny, or looks neat I won’t touch it. The fact of the matter is that spam exists because it is a FUNCTIONING marketing tool. If we don’t use it, it will not be profitable anymore. If these companies won’t make money on it they won’t do it.

    We could just kill all marketers, but we don’t have time for rational solutions.

  25. Hey everybody.  Sign up for snail mail on all of the web sites that offer it.  When you get their junk snail mail, use their postage paid envelope and insert all of their ads in the envelope to mail back to them with nothing filled out.  Let them pay for the return postage.  Let’s pump up their postage bill.  If everybody did it, they would quit.  Even include some extra stuff like sunday paper ads to increase their return postage costs.

  26. That’s a funny thought.  Years ago a friend of mine did just that and gave me the idea.  I used to get these junk mailings (I think from Texas) that looked like they contained a check.  It was a fake check that could be used to purchase their crap at “discount” prices.  That majorly pissed me off, as I live in the state of anticipating a check wink  So I would always restuff their return postage paid envelope and mail it back.

  27. Here’s a link to the DMA(Direct Marketing ASSociation) which should probably give you a list to all people/corps you should avoid.  It shouldn’t be a suprise that MSFT, IBM, and Google have people on the list and why some of that SPAM has an easier time of getting through to you on those “free” e-mail accounts.  Don’t get me wrong, I get them too. 😐

    http://www.the-dma.org/cgi/mdlist_council?council=12

  28. One other thing, after looking at the DMA site I sure get that conspiracy theory going in my head.  It seems like it consists of basically every major retail company out there.  Just doing some browsing and it looks pretty clear.  If only our politians would spend more time going after stuff like this.  Of course I am probably in the minority being that the people I voted for didn’t get in office to work on it. (Makes me feel a little less guilty anyway.) wink

  29. Someone with a US federal court should be aware of what’s going on, as the owner of Netidiot.com told me that he’s seen one of their servers show up in his logs.

  30. I have unsubscribed to Bonus Bonez over 40 times to no avail. I have written them over and over asking them to stop spamming me. I am getting email sometimes every hour STILL. I have tried and tried and am in HELL.

  31. I have unsubscribed a million times myself. I even found the phone number on one of the links above and called them. Of course the number led me right to voicemail.

    I think their “unsubscribe” box is just a method of telling whether or not your email is still active. They do not remove you at all.

  32. I’m in the same wretched boat. Since I unsubscribed, I have been receiving four times as many emails. Do not unsubscribe! That just lets them know that your email is active.

    Instead I have started forwarding the messages to the FTC. There are laws against spam and the FTC is who enforces those laws—we hope.

    You can forward spam to the FTC using this address:

    spam@uce.gov

    If you want to read more about the FTC, go to http://www.ftc.gov/spam. Here’s what the spam law actually entails: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.htm

    Good Luck! I appreciate all the suggestions for how to bail out.

  33. they need to be stopped!
    i almost hate opening my hotmail anymore…all i get are their stoopid spam!

    please tell me how to get rid of it!!!

  34. Well, my personal feeling is that BBonerz gets their e-mail addresses from Friendster.com I had no spam problems until my friend convinced me to sign-up and sure enough I get 5 messages a day from BBonerz now.

    I actually started sending them spam, but they stopped their SMTP server from receiving messages, so I can’t do it anymore.

    My only hope is that hotmail starts allowing IP filtering for individual addresses.  When I get 5 messages a day from 5 “different” companies, but from the same IP address, it is not hard to see what is going on.  I think that is the only way to stop the spam.

  35. I wanted to give you a bit of an update on the Bonus Bonez email and the corporate info that I’ve been able to find on them.

    1) Bonus Bones is indeed owned/operated by Jumpstart Technologies, LLC
    2) You can reach them at 415-901-9891, ask for customer service, threaten them with the Nevada Anti Spam law (VERY TOUGH) and ask to be removed—you will never hear from them again.

    Additionally, one of the founders of the company Greg Tseng may be reached via email at gtseng@jtllc.com, Johann Smith may be reached at jsmith@jtllc.com

    I set up a separate email account to ask for info about the company, then within a couple of days…I started receiving spam from them. When I told the story to customer service—I was removed immediately. 

    I wish you luck in your quest to rid yourself of spam.

  36. yep, i hate these people. and here they are: http://www.jtllc.com/

    found the info here: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,3980535~root=spam~mode=flat

    the same guys did this: http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/08/07/crushmaster/index2.html

    the worst part, all this work, from all these people – and there is still no way out. it makes me terrified to use the web for anything for fear my email addresses [cuz i get this stuff at all three] will be plagued with more spam.

  37. UPDATE: I called and left a threatening message on their voice mail. Today I have recieved no email. I do not know whether this was from fwd’ing all the junk mail i got tot he government and spamcop, or because of the message, but for some reason I did not get any messages today.

  38. they have already changed that voicemail to an individual’s name, and the owners emails bounce back [i tried fwding all my spam to them]. i left a message, but we’ll see.

  39. I also wanted to chime in with some input about Bonus Bonez.

    A friend of mine called yesterday, based upon finding a number listed in a blog about VPN issue. I would try different variations on the last four numbers, I just did it and it worked for 415-901-9892. Try 9893,9894, etc.

    The other thing to do is to write to customer service at Bonus Bonez, they responded within 24 hours to my friend—they claimed that his email was duplicated in their system, and it created problems. THey didn’t want to send the mail to anyone that didn’t want it, etc. The long of the short of it is this:

    She said two things that were important;

    1) If he wanted to have the people that were also running into the problem contact her directly they could do that (support@bonusbonez.com)
    2) She would stop the emails immediately.

    As of 3:00 pm pacific today, he hadn’t received anything for 24 hours.

  40. Happened to run a Google News search today on “Brian Benenhaley” and came across a long article in ContraCostaTimes, which includes the following:

    Brian Benenhaley, chief operating officer at SubscriberBase, of Columbia, S.C., which owns Consumer Research, said when the company receives a complaint, it is typically because a person has not familiarized themselves with the requirements before signing up.

    “It’s not for everybody,” he said, adding that consumers do have to spend money to participate. “The question the user has to answer is: Do they think the service they’re paying for is worth it?”

    Citing competitive reasons, Benenhaley declined to discuss how many members SubscriberBase had and what rewards it had given out. Although he said he would ask satisfied participants to discuss the program, no contacts were provided.

  41. 3 Days after my interaction with Bonus Bonez customer service and NOT ONE email has been sent.

    If you want to end the spam, write them as the person above describes (the support@bonusbonez address). This worked. I can’t believe it, three days and nothing from them.

  42. I wrote in this letter

    I have unsubscribed to your system over 50 times. Yes 50. I have only
    INCREASED my spam from your company. I NEVER signed up for anything and am
    considering a long letter to the FTC concerning this. I was told this
    email was one way to stop this harassment so I am trying this. I wonder if
    your company knows how many bulletin boards are dedicated to trying to
    help others with your companies assaults. Listing names addresses phone
    numbers to your company and it’s owners as well as links to anti spam laws
    and reporting agencies all in an effort to stop this problem from
    continuing. It is truly sad.

    Bleu

    …and got this back. We will see.

    Hello,

    Thanks for writing Bonus Bonez. We’re sorry you’ve had trouble
    unsubscribing from our mailing list! We assure you we will look into why
    this wasn’t working for you – we definitely do not want anyone receiving
    unwanted emails from us!

    I have removed your email address *******@hotmail.com, from our mailing
    list. It can take up to 72 hours for this process to fully be completed,
    so don’t worry if you receive another email in that time. If you receive
    any emails from us after that 72 hours, please forward one to us here at
    support@bonusbonez.com and we will investigate why this is happening.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,
    Jennifer
    Customer Service

  43. yep, call the number [even if it doesn’t say the company’s name on the message] and send an email to support@bonusbonez.com and you should be good to go. it’s amazing to open that inbox and see none of it!!

  44. I got more spam today again. I forwarded it to them as they asked. We will see what happens. The spam was from Tickle Scientific for BB.

    I am sooooooooooooooooooooo sick of this.

    Bleu

  45. I think I have finally stopped receiving spam but I am now experiencing problems with my email account that was getting the spam. It is making me “match the word” to prove I am NOT a spammer every time I want to send an email. Microsoft is trying to figure it out but I am just finished with all of this.

    I will probably have to delete the entire account.

    Bleu

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