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Nielsen Homescan: Looking For New Panel Members

by Tara Kuczykowski on August 13, 2009 · 32 comments

Looking for a fun way to earn some great prizes? Then you might be interested in signing up for Nielsen Homescan.

Panel members are provided with a hand-held scanner. Every time you or members of your household shop, you’ll use the scanner to scan the barcodes on all of your purchases. Then you'll upload your data to Nielsen once a week and earn gift points that are redeemable for name-brand merchandise, including electronics equipment, jewelry, household items, toys, and much more!

I've been a Nielsen Homescan panelist in the past and enjoyed it very much. Nielsen is great about walking you through technical issues, so don't worry about feeling overwhelmed. Note that it was several months before I heard from them when I signed up – they have a limited number of openings available in each area.

Do I have any readers currently in the program that would like to share their perspectives?

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melanie M August 13, 2009 at 6:56 am

I did this for about a year, and let me tell you, it was no picnic. They want you to scan everything you buy, including gas, online purchases and prescriptions. If there is no bar code present (produce or gas, for example) you have to scan a reference card. For many stores in my area, they required me to input prices manually for every item I bought. I lived alone and shopped for one, and this was still extremely burdensome, but I didn't transmit "often enough" to get enough points to earn any sort of incentive at all in all of the time I played along. Additionally, they send you grouchy postcards if you don't transmit for a 30 days, and being reasonably frugal, sometimes I just didn't buy anything in a 30 day period.

Also, make sure you save the box their scanner comes in- if you quit, you must mail it back or they'll bill you for it.

At any rate, my take on it is, if they want that much work, they'd best start making the program a lot more attractive. I've participated twice, a year apart (giving it the benefit of the doubt) and found it the same each time.

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2 Julieann August 13, 2009 at 8:32 am

I received my scanner a couple weeks ago and read all of the instructions on what was required. WOOOF!!!!! I returned it back to them the very next day.

They don't tell you that you pretty much have to set up all the stores in your area, have to enter store, price, sale price, coupon value, coupon source, other shoppers with you, etc, etc on each purchase. Why don't they give that information up front instead of making you think all you have to do is scan the UPC code of each item you purchase and then transmit that in?

Good golly, I use coupons on everything I buy and I am certainly not going to take hours and hours to enter all that info for a few measly points a week. It would have taken me a year at least just to get something decent. They don't give you points based on the amount of work you put into it, just by the week.

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3 Hilary August 13, 2009 at 8:50 am

I've been on a waiting list for a scanner for a few months now and keep getting e-mails that they really want me, but just need to wait for an opening. But, after reading the comments above and other articles about it online, I don't think I'm going to do it. Way too much time and trouble for the small rewards they offer. I'm not willing to take time away from my child to scan in barcodes and go through the hassle. For that kind of time, they better offer me free food.

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4 Kellee August 13, 2009 at 8:55 am

I tried to sign up for it, but they didn't need anybody in my area (Davidson, NC).

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5 Tara Kuczykowski August 13, 2009 at 9:11 am

It sounds like a few things have changed since I did it. It's definitely been awhile. Perhaps you could make it a family affair if you have older kids and enlist their assistance in exchange for picking out prizes that benefit the whole family.

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6 Meg August 13, 2009 at 9:54 am

NOT WORTH THE TIME OR HASSLE! Their guidelines are insane! the other posters weren't joking when they say they want you to scan bar codes for every little thing. if you buy a snickers at the gas station you'd better scan it. My packages came about 2 weeks ago and I read the book and the requirements and then looked at the rewards (think Colby mp3 players and the like--not awesome stuff) and how many points it would take to get the rewards and it would take nearly a year of scanning once a week or more to get anything decent. No thank you! I'll pass. Everything is back in the box just waiting for delivery man to come pick it up.

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7 kristi August 13, 2009 at 9:55 am

I did it a few years ago & it was so time consuming. Not worth the points IMO.

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8 Angela Mathias August 13, 2009 at 10:07 am

I did this for several months and agree that the incentives are NOT worth the time and trouble. Also it fried my computer twice and I had to have it repaired and all I got was a soccer ball. I would NEVER do this again even if the incentives were attractive because a fried computer is not worth any amount of incentive.

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9 claudia August 13, 2009 at 10:19 am

I have been a member since 2004 and I LOVE, LOVE , LOVE it. I have been able to get play equipment , toys , a lot of small electronics and stuff with my points. I scan almost everthing I get now. I don't even think about it. And yes , they do send out cards if you do not scan for a while. But, for me at least, Its well worth the time.I even have a second scanner that my husband carries on the road with him. He is a truck driver and is always stopping somewhere for something .

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10 Amanda August 13, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I've been doing Homescan for over a year now and I think it's pretty quick and painless. It maybe takes me an extra 2-3 minutes to scan things as I'm unpacking bags, which is no big deal to me. I love getting rewarded for shopping!

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11 Terri August 13, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I have been doing Homescan for about 2 years now, and I am about ready to hang it up! It takes more than 2 or 3 minutes to scan your groceries, coupons, sales, etc. unless you don't buy very much. The idea is that you scan EVERYTHING you buy. You must also record if the item was on sale and any coupons used. You first scan the name of the store you made purchases from. You then start scanning the UPC codes from the items you buy and some don't always scan...you have to enter it manually. Most grocery stores will not need prices to be entered, but say you went to Dollar Tree or PetSmart. These type of stores need the prices you paid manually entered. It can be a pain and kids get tired of it quickly too! I agree that they need better incentives as the gifts they have to choose from are nothing I want. A gift card would be a nice idea, but they don't offer that...mostly junk that would take you years of transmitting to get anyway.

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12 Briana August 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I found it wasn't worth my time. The scanner they send you is junk so half the time your stuff doesn't scan and you have to manually enter it in. I did it about 18 months ago and it was very time consuming. I think they would need better incentives to make it worthwhile. I did it for 2 months before I gave up!

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13 melisa steffen August 14, 2009 at 1:48 am

I have had the scanner now for three weeks and it is alot more time and work than they make it out to be. I really have not been able to keep up with every purchase. Also the number of points you get and the amount needed to redeem is so off. It seems to be like you would spend a year or more to get a 60 dollar item. Also to transmit you have to have a certain type of phone and line and I still have not been able to transmitt using the phone they sent just for this purpose. I have transmitted other data over my own phone and works fine but this just doesn't work. They send you surveys to complete for more points and they are worth almost three times the amount of a weekly transmital go figure.
So I definitely would not recommend this and I will be calling them next week to find out about returning it all.

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14 jenn September 5, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Great! I recently signed up & then quickly received an email that I was selected. I WAS excited before reading these comments! :( During the sign upo process, I think I recall that they said the weekly time it would be was 30 minutes... Sounds like it will take a lot more than that!

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15 Charles E Burke September 12, 2009 at 8:08 am

My wife and I tried this several years ago, and after the first month we looked at each other and we both had the same look in our eyes. We sent it back ! So time consuming. So much hassle. So many points needed. Not worth our time.
This was a part time job, without pay !

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16 Christina February 9, 2010 at 5:16 pm

wow. I was super excited that my scanner is suppose to arrive today but after reading the comments I am a little disappointed!

I guess I will give it a try and see how it goes.

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17 Jan May 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I have been doing it over a year and am ready to hang up my hat. I just have to find the directions about sending it back. It sounds fun and all but its a pain in the butt. The prizes stink. Need like 9000 points for a dog toy. I have way better luck with coupons. Seriously, don't waste your time...

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18 Maria June 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I am so glad i read this post. I was accepted today and I am calling back to cancel. Ladies thank you so much for posting your comments. I don't have time to waste.

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19 Paula July 5, 2010 at 10:14 am

I have been gettin emails for months... I think I am going to tell them no thanks before I get suckered in myself. Thanks for th einfo.

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20 Amy July 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I just tried to sign up for this and it wouldn't let me because my internet was attached to my phone line... bummer. But from what I have read, it seems like a hassle I don't need...

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21 Leigh October 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

My husband received a lot of positive feedback from people and was also lured into it by the prizes. BELIEVE ME, every NEGATIVE comment on this site is TRUE!!! We've been in this mess for a year and we're on our 2nd scanner. The 1st one was a total pieces of junk! We got so fed up with the transmissions not going through we almost quit. I'm still not sure why we didn't. Anyway, I'm hoping once we can buy something (if that day ever comes) we'll send it back and let the next sucker on the waiting list have their fun....NOT!!!

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22 Kim November 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I was a member for a while as well. My scanner quit transmitting. The great tech support people said I didn't have it properly installed - this was after using it faithfully for 6 months. While working with them to solve my problem, I received emails and postcards that seemed to imply I was holding their equipment hostage. After all that hassle and lack of appreciation, I definitely returned it. Too much dime for a nickle if you ask me!

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23 Jennifer November 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I hear you there, once I quit the panel and asked for a box with return label to return the scanner. I was literally harassed and threatend with a lawsuit if I did not return it quickly enough! I was waiting for the box they promised and after calling a second time it finally came.

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24 Jennifer November 23, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Our household were panel members for about 7 years! We also did the short lived media program where you had to wear a small pager like device. Any way it takes FOREVEr TO EARN POINTS!!! The surveys help but are usually so long and unintresting its not worth the time. In my 7 years I made enough to receive a Panini Maker and A digital meat thermometer that broke after about the 3rd use and a dust buster. The prizes are also pretty boring and they rarely change them up. I kept hoping and stcuk with it well past the time I should have.

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25 J Lambrigger January 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

The offer has expired.

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26 Linda K February 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I, too, thought this would be a fun thing to do. After rec'g the box and scanner and reading all of the information, I called them the SAME day and told them no way was I doing this. They were irritated that I did that, but honestly, had they disclosed up front how INCREDIBLY time consuming this was I would never had signed up. Don't do it----ever. Trust me.

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27 crowleychick February 17, 2011 at 2:00 am

ditto! I did the exact same thing. I even told the gal "You've gotta be kidding me!" She was pretty hateful like she just couldn't understand why I wouldn't want to spend HOURS each week for a year to get, maybe, the cheesiest gift that I could probably get a DollarTree! DON'T BOTHER!

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28 Velda Dedeaux February 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I was a member of this panel many years and when the scanner I had got destroyed in Hurricane Katrina they closed my account and didn't even allow me to redeem the points I'd accumulated prior to the hurricane.

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29 Stacy E March 9, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I was a member for a short time. I applied and next thing I knew I received the scanner via FedEx. They delivered it while I was on vacation and then proceeded to send harassing emails about how I hadn't forwarded any transmissions. I was still on vacation! I thought I would receive points based on the amount of dollars spent, but I received 150 points for each transmission. The items in the catalogue aren't worth the effort.

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30 tom (watkins products associate) July 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Thanks for the warnings ladies.

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31 Kathi July 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I did this back in 2006 when I was a newly single mom and thought it would be a great way to earn prizes, like with the Harris Poll and Hi-Points. I tried it for like a month or two and ended up sending it back. I can scan the barcodes to my hearts content, but when I have to go through and manually enter the prices for 150 items on my shopping list, I don't think so. I don't know if I'm surprised or not to see nothing has changed.

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32 Jodi July 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Like several other people, I did this for about 2 yrs & just returned my scanner. It was definitely not worth my time. You have to scan EVERYTHING...gas, prescriptions, internet purchases, even your freebies!! Plus you have to enter the prices of everything, if you bought it on sale and/or if you used coupons. If you did use a coupon you have to enter the amount of the coupon. After 2 yrs of my time, I never won any of the sweepstakes they brag about & the only thing I had to show for it was enough points to get a $25 toaster oven.

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