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Mystery Shopping Company Discussion

Sentry Marketing
Posts:683
As you may know, the reviews of companies posted on this forum are a valuable resource for many mystery shoppers. They also should be taken with a grain of salt. It is wise to be careful about whose opinion you trust on the forum. It is also true that every shopper has a different experience with a mystery shopping company, and a report of a negative experience by a shopper does not necessarily mean you should not shop with the company. The opposite is true as well: A positive review does not necessarily mean the company is worthy of your time.

This should be a reminder to everybody here that we do need to take reviews with a grain of salt, and that a good OR bad review does not necessarily accurately reflect the company being reviewed.

Jacob
July 20, 2009 03:25PM
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More Discussions About Sentry Marketing Group

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Posts:7,803
cpd1833 Wrote:
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> Well of course i didn't get paid or i wouldn't be
> on here right.

I find it odd that you would think that way. Why is that? There are many of us who come here every day, to talk about mystery shopping, without having any particular issue about it. If everyone who came here only had a complaint about not getting paid, then every MSC in the universe would have a complaint here and none would ever have anything nice written about them. Think about it.

**********************************************************************
“Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."
~Gilbert K. Chesterton
January 18, 2010 11:34AM
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Posts:7
Not to get in the middle, but I have had a rift with Sentry. They hold very high expectations, and faltering even one little step on their guidelines means no pay. Other companies work with you, some only take a small portion. Sentry certainly is very professional, but is very strict as well. As regards to payment, I have always been paid exactly what they told me they would pay me, even tho it is usually less than I had planned on. I would not recommend them to new shoppers.
February 01, 2010 02:58PM
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Posts:167
I haven't worked for them but I am signed up for them. I don't recall getting to many offers from them. I usually will respond to shops that sound pretty decent. Thanks for the info. If I get the chance and it sounds to be worth my while, I will try them out and let you know how it goes. ;-)
February 01, 2010 09:16PM
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Posts:280
amartinson7 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Not to get in the middle, but I have had a rift
> with Sentry. They hold very high expectations, and
> faltering even one little step on their guidelines
> means no pay. Other companies work with you, some
> only take a small portion. Sentry certainly is
> very professional, but is very strict as well. As
> regards to payment, I have always been paid
> exactly what they told me they would pay me, even
> tho it is usually less than I had planned on. I
> would not recommend them to new shoppers.


I don't deny that we have high standards. We do use a system of bonuses and fee deductions to encourage our shoppers to submit top quality shops by the stated deadline. One of our clients is shopped weekly and the project has strict deadlines.

In general, it is not our practice to withhold the entire fee or reimbursement minor issues. I beleive that this shopper will find that his inquiry was responded to this evening with the fee deduction being reversed and the entire fee restored.
February 02, 2010 01:25AM
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Posts:1
After having a shop come back multiple times to me for editing, I got fed up and decided to take the hit on the shop, as the shop fee was not incentive enough for me to complete it to the owner's satisfaction. I have a full time job and I just can't check my email multiple times a day to continuously add "more detail" to a simple burger shop. I even told him I would take the hit on the reimbursement and that I would like to be removed from the shopper database.

Now he told me he is going to charge me a $25 "rescheduling fee". Is this legal? I don't remember anything relating this in my ICA.
February 03, 2010 05:32PM
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Posts:280
I am actually glad to see this post because I am interested in hearing things from a shopper's point of view. I have no interest in disparaging this poster in any way shape or form.

There is one fact that I would like to correct: The shop was not sent back multiple times for editing. In fact, I edited this shop and I sent it back with very specific comments with regard to the corrections that were necessary.

This assignment was done for our largest client, a QSR restaurant. It is on a weekly rotation. The preparation for this assignment includes an on-line learning module, detailed printable guidelines and an example of a completed evaluation. We perform over 40 evaluations per week for this client.

The shop was returned and the shopper was asked to rewrite one narrative section. The shopper was asked to use the sample completed evaluation as a guide. The shopper emailed the scheduler and myself. She stated that she should could not add any more detail and "if this is not enough, just please remove me from the shop and take me out of your database". In addition, she stated "I also believe that the client would rather see a descriptive, concise report rather than a long, drawn out report that repeats the same thing over and over again for the sake of filling up the text box with words".

I've seen a lot of discussion on this board and others about the integrity of shopping companies and the need for companies to live up to their word. In fact, I agree with most of what has been written in this regard. My question to the members of this forum is as follows:

Shouldn't shoppers live up to their end of the agreement? In this circumstance, why is it that our company should bear the cost of rescheduling this assignment?

For the record, there are costs associated with situations like this one. We need to pay our scheduler, editor and software company. In many cases, the shop will require a bonus in order to meet the deadline.

Again, I have no ill will toward this shopper, I simply want to try to better understand the expectations and point of view of shoppers. I'm aware that my company has not always been perfect, but we strive to do the right thing, listen to our shoppers and work toward building a long-term relationship. We are always looking for ways to raise shopper pay and one way is to reduce the number of times we have to reschedule a shop. It's an area of focus this year and your feedback will be very helpful as we look for ways to improve.

Thanks in advance.

Dave
February 03, 2010 07:38PM
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Posts:2,176
Well...since it's open for discussion, I'll throw in my $.02

I certainly understand Dave's frustration and have been in that position myself. I think you are both a little off base.

jodirenee agreed to perform the shop and now decided after getting into it that she doesn't need the hassle in exchange for a free meal. It's a common story, unfortunately. That fact that she fibbed about the details in this forum is irrelevant, but shoppers should be warned that if you are not forthcoming with accurate details when complaining about a MSC, you may be called on it.

Dave may have a right to damages, legally, if he took the time to pursue it. Most MSCs would not. The industry standard seems to be that shoppers maintain a right to cancel, and are usually subject to deactivation for doing so.

To answer your question, Dave; You bear the responsibility for the reschedule because you have an obligation to your client, and stand to make much more from that relationship financially than jodirenee does from your company. Basically, it's the cost of doing business.

If it's important to you to have that report, perhaps a phone conversation with the shopper in question can give you the detail you require to complete the shop. That's certainly less work that a reschedule, IMHO. I always found it best to work with shoppers rather than go to battle when there was a problem. It also helps to avoid negative feedback here :^)

BTW, that's something I was taught by a very smart MSC owner when I completely botched my very first shop for him. Years later, I was a star evaluator for that company, and later came aboard as an employee. If the owner had taken it upon himself to challenge me and disallow that report, I would have probably walked away from shopping.

If your company paid a significant fee for the shops, your percentage of flakes would obviously be lower. If you make a decision to pay a rate that the market will bear (I don't work for your company, so I don't know the particulars of the assignments) for the report, you save a few dollars on each shop and increase the risk of flakes. That money should be summed over time to cover the cost of flakes when that inevitably happens.

If you can't afford to do business at the rate you are charging your client with the fee you pay shoppers and percentage of flakes you suffer, you need to re-think your business plan.

It's kind of a catch 22, I guess, since I'm telling you to raise the fees in order to attract better shoppers, and you are saying you can't afford to raise fees without first eliminating the flakes.

I would also offer that perhaps your online training is insufficient, since your shopper was apparently unaware of the amount of work required to complete the shop. I have posted elsewhere that I used to have a short phone conversation with each shopper I brought onboard. I would estimate to them the average time involved in a report for first-time shoppers and number of narrative words expected. An obvious gasp on the other end of line would be my warning to reschedule the shop.

Bottom line...build a relationship with shoppers before sending them in.
February 03, 2010 09:55PM
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Posts:280
Steve,

I found your feedback interesting. Let me add some facts so that you have the whole picture.

You should know that this shopper had completed six assignments for us prior to this shop. Of the six, four were completed for this client. In other words, the shopper had already done this shop four times. This is not a newbie, but an experienced shopper.

I used to speak to each new shopper that was scheduled to complete an assignment for us. As we grew, it became increasingly more difficult to do so based on the volume of new shoppers. In order to put shoppers in the best position to succeed, we invested in a Learning Management System and software to create on-line prep modules. I'd like for you to apply to shop for our company and go through the orientation so that you can judge the quality for yourself.

You state that we should build a relationship with our shoppers. Again, interesting feedback. Last year, in response to feedback from our shoppers, we developed and launched shop scoring, shopper feedback for all assignments and an extremely robust shopper history page. The shopper history page also includes details of payment for each assignment, when a check as been processed and the check number.

I am in total agreement, and it is our part of our business plan, that developing a strong relationship with shoppers is the proper way to run our business. That relationship, however, needs to be mutually beneficial and built upon respect and reciprocation. It's not reasonable for shoppers to expect discretion to be exercised and fees to be raised if they're not willing to uphold their part of the agreement.

Lastly, I don't agree with you that the industry standard is that the shopper has a right to cancel an assignment. Once an assignment is accepted, and most certainly once the visit has been conducted, I believe the standard is to complete the assignment.
February 04, 2010 12:20AM
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Posts:18,158
Take it private Dave. You are already overstepping what is appropriate to reveal about a shopper in an open forum. We have had this discussion before, which is why you so promptly terminated me from your company even though I had never performed a single job for you.
February 04, 2010 08:09AM
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Posts:280
I bear no ill will toward the shopper and am only seeking the opinion of members of this forum to better understand issues from a shopper's point of view.

Since this is an open forum, I don't believe it is inappropriate for our company, or any other, to convey an issue from their point of view. So long as it is done in a respectful manner, I don't see the harm.

Last March a thread was started that contained what I believed was inaccurate information about our company. I responded in an attempt to clear up the inaccuracies. I don't regret defending our company, but I would respond differently if the situation occurred today.

As you know, the post became heated and a lot of ugly accusations were thrown around. As a result, I closed access to your account. I have also offered an apology and reopened your account.

My presence on this forum is to better understand issues from a shopper's point of view and to offer the standpoint from a company's perspective. I bear no ill will toward you or any other shopper and I've tried to communicate in a respectful and professional manner. I think a healthy discourse between shoppers and companies can benefit all involved. If the members of this forum indicate that our participation is unwanted, I'll respect that point of view and stop posting.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2010 12:43AM by Sentry Marketing.
February 04, 2010 10:44AM
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Posts:280
?

Flash Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Take it private Dave. You are already
> overstepping what is appropriate to reveal about a
> shopper in an open forum. We have had this
> discussion before, which is why you so promptly
> terminated me from your company even though I had
> never performed a single job for you.
June 19, 2010 01:21PM
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Posts:18,158
Sentry Marketing Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ?
>
> Flash Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Take it private Dave. You are already
> > overstepping what is appropriate to reveal about
> a
> > shopper in an open forum. We have had this
> > discussion before, which is why you so promptly
> > terminated me from your company even though I
> had
> > never performed a single job for you.

Dave,

There is a huge difference between basically calling a shopper, by name, a liar in open forum and posting a PM that was an obvious attempt to stifle a shopper’s participation in a shopper’s forum. I have no interest in working for or with you based on your performance on this forum, whether it was in open forum or by PM. And on both the current and a previous thread about Sentry I suggested that a shopper use the “Search” feature of this forum to access previous conversations about Sentry, truly hoping to avoid another “Sentry Brouhaha”. Of course every time the name “Sentry” appears here I know I will hear from you by PM and you will be rushing in to “DEFEND YOUR COMPANY”. You may believe that this is a forum open to all, and to a limited extent it is. Yet the word “Sentry” cannot appear in any thread on this forum without your quick and immediate protest that the shopper is wrong, has not pursued to proper avenues for fairness, etc. etc. Yours is the ONLY company that chooses to behave in this manner.

I find it fascinating that on this forum, when a shopper proclaims they have been abused by a company, other shoppers respond that they either have had no problems and perhaps the shopper didn’t do it correctly or that they have had similar difficulties. Note the recent thread about Regal Hospitality. You and I may disagree about the purpose of a forum such as this, but I definitely see it as an opportunity for shoppers to communicate among themselves about pros and cons of working with various companies and how to accomplish some of the things we are asked to accomplish.

You have no argument with me about posting your ads on the job board, but we have objected to shopper solicitation in other areas of the forum by companies besides yours. And indeed if you are looking for more shoppers, the job board is where to post your advertisements. As for the rest, you are definitely projecting an image of your own company whenever you hit the keyboard. Shoppers can learn a whole lot about your company and its attitude towards shoppers from your own words and responses.

Be aware that I do NOT care to continue this conversation in open forum or by PM and any PM you send to me in the future is subject to post.
June 19, 2010 02:04PM
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Posts:280
Flash,

You may believe that their is a big difference between posting a shopper first name in a forum and posting a PM. I don't. I also find your point of view very inconsistent when it comes to our company. The truth is that both publicly and privately you've demonstrated an extreme dislike for both myself and my company. Your decision to post my PM in an open forum is just as inexcusable as my decision to post a shoppers first name. The difference is that my action occurred over 18 months ago and I tried to apologize for it on numerous occasions. You may be a respected member of this forum but I find your actions to be very questionable.

Regal Hospitality is a well known company with an established shopper base. We are a growing company and like other growing companies in this industry, we have a need to for reliable shoppers to sign up with our company.

I never said that our company was perfect or that we were never at fault. Those are your words and your opinion. The reality is that you have never shopped for us and you have no first hand experience with our company. I agree that this forum is a great place for shoppers to share experiences, tips and other communication. We disagree on the appropriate response by a company when inaccurate or damaging information is posted.

I have not "solicited" shoppers in other forums. Moreover, since being allowed back on this board, I have not received a message from the moderator that any of my posts were misplaced or inappropriate. I chose to abide by the guidelines set up by the owner of this website rather than your personal opinons.

We agree that shoppers can learn a lot from this board. The truth is that we respect shoppers and demonstrate it through our actions as well as our wordsFrom day one, I've stated that I am willing to respond to any question about any topic that has appeared on this forum or any other. The truth is that while I got off to a very rocky start in this forum, I've been able to create productve relationships with many established members of this forum.

Dave Agius, Owner
The Sentry Marketing
www.sentrymarketing.com
dave@sentrymarketing.com






Flash Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sentry Marketing Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > ?
> >
> > Flash Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > Take it private Dave. You are already
> > > overstepping what is appropriate to reveal
> about
> > a
> > > shopper in an open forum. We have had this
> > > discussion before, which is why you so
> promptly
> > > terminated me from your company even though I
> > had
> > > never performed a single job for you.
>
> Dave,
>
> There is a huge difference between basically
> calling a shopper, by name, a liar in open forum
> and posting a PM that was an obvious attempt to
> stifle a shopper’s participation in a shopper’s
> forum. I have no interest in working for or with
> you based on your performance on this forum,
> whether it was in open forum or by PM. And on
> both the current and a previous thread about
> Sentry I suggested that a shopper use the “Search”
> feature of this forum to access previous
> conversations about Sentry, truly hoping to avoid
> another “Sentry Brouhaha”. Of course every time
> the name “Sentry” appears here I know I will hear
> from you by PM and you will be rushing in to
> “DEFEND YOUR COMPANY”. You may believe that this
> is a forum open to all, and to a limited extent it
> is. Yet the word “Sentry” cannot appear in any
> thread on this forum without your quick and
> immediate protest that the shopper is wrong, has
> not pursued to proper avenues for fairness, etc.
> etc. Yours is the ONLY company that chooses to
> behave in this manner.
>
> I find it fascinating that on this forum, when a
> shopper proclaims they have been abused by a
> company, other shoppers respond that they either
> have had no problems and perhaps the shopper
> didn’t do it correctly or that they have had
> similar difficulties. Note the recent thread
> about Regal Hospitality. You and I may disagree
> about the purpose of a forum such as this, but I
> definitely see it as an opportunity for shoppers
> to communicate among themselves about pros and
> cons of working with various companies and how to
> accomplish some of the things we are asked to
> accomplish.
>
> You have no argument with me about posting your
> ads on the job board, but we have objected to
> shopper solicitation in other areas of the forum
> by companies besides yours. And indeed if you are
> looking for more shoppers, the job board is where
> to post your advertisements. As for the rest, you
> are definitely projecting an image of your own
> company whenever you hit the keyboard. Shoppers
> can learn a whole lot about your company and its
> attitude towards shoppers from your own words and
> responses.
>
> Be aware that I do NOT care to continue this
> conversation in open forum or by PM and any PM you
> send to me in the future is subject to post.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/19/2010 11:34PM by Sentry Marketing.
June 19, 2010 02:53PM
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Posts:416
Jacob wrote>
That being said, I am writing this because a serious violation of trust has occurred. The owner of Sentry Marketing, or someone using the same ip address, has created a 'fake' account on this forum and posted positive reviews of his company that are false and deceptive.

The bottom line: It appears Sentry Marketing has been attempting to deceive this community by posting fake reviews of their company

I still have not seen Dave answer this allegation. I would like to see this addressed by him.

My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me.
Benjamin Disraeli
June 24, 2010 08:49PM
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Posts:280
cpburt

This issue was settled offline between Jacob and myself. If you would like details, I suggest you contact him directly. If you have any questions of me, you may send them to dave@sentrymarketing.com.
June 24, 2010 09:49PM
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Posts:17
Wow... I wish I had read this before today. I will definitely be making use of these forums before signing up with any company.

Thanks for the posting Jacob.
July 04, 2010 10:00PM
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Posts:48
Damn, it can get brutal in here.
February 11, 2011 08:22PM
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Posts:108
Got an email from Sentry Marketing "looking for shoppers".

Not only have I never seen such an email from any reputable MS company, but there are now "questionable" threads on 2 different forums.

After reading the first (other) forum, I was willing to give this MS company the benefit of the doubt.

Now, after coming here and seeing the same "type" of threads here, I'm deleting the email and moving on.

Once, maybe the MS company is being targeted, but twice? To me, this is "STAY AWAY".
February 11, 2011 09:05PM
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Posts:185
I have done some shops for Sentry Marketing. Never had a problem with them except their reports were a little lengthy.
February 11, 2011 09:52PM
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Posts:17
You have to be careful who you do business with. I'd certainly be cautious. The guy is quick to temper for sure. Not worth dealing with someone that isn't understanding.
February 11, 2011 09:57PM
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Posts:280
I have refrained from responding to posts about our company for several months. The purpose for my post this evening is to simply provide any readers of this forum with information that allows them to consider a full picture of the feedback about our company.

We respect shoppers very much and our company cannot grow without the invaluable contribution of our field evaluators. I regret that any shopper has had a negative experience with our company and encourage anybody that requires assistance or has a question of any kind to contact me directly using the contact information at the bottom of this post.

A few quick other bits of information:

- we recruit new shoppers using the traditional methods found in this industry. On some occasions, our postings are emailed via third party providers (Yahoo groups, MSPA, Shadowshopper). I hope that this does not cause any shopper to view us as disreputable.

- on rare occasions we have found ourselves in a position where it was necessary to strongly dissuade a shopper from following through on their intent to perform a stated action. For example, a shopper states their intention to contact the client over an issue unrelated to payment for an assignment.

I know that we haven't always gotten it right and there is not anything that we can do to change the past. We do try to learn from our mistakes and are working toward improving our company.

Thanks

Dave Agius, Owner
The Sentry Marketing Group
dave@sentrymarketing.com

edited to correct a misspelled word



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/13/2011 12:12AM by Sentry Marketing.
February 12, 2011 02:26AM
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Posts:4,706
Dave. Just smoke and mirrors. Everyone has noticed you lurking here almost daily. Chomping at the bit to respond? Here is my personal observations. You have one of the worst reputations for the mistreatment of shoppers. You are observed using shoppers as money making devices, not the assets they truely are.
That is the prime reason I will not work for you or advise others to do so. This is not "V". You do not have your bunk buddy Ray to pull postings you do not agree with. At the end of days, I am sure you will burn with others like you...

Shopping Bama and parts of Georgia.
I'm still learning 24/7.
February 12, 2011 09:58AM
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Posts:17
When someone is frustrated, you try to be understanding first. If people are treated with respect, your business will succeed. Another bank ago company treats me well so I will bend over backwards for them. You must have good people skills. I think that's what they need to work on.
February 12, 2011 10:56AM
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Posts:280
mrcomputer101,

I am very sorry that you have such negative feelings about me and our company. I do not know who you are, if we have ever spoken or otherwise interacted nor do I understand the source of your intense feelings of dislike for me. I have no idea why you feel I mistreat shoppers and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue with you via PM, email or telephone call.

Prior to my post on 2/11, I last posted on 10/31/2010. That's nearly 3 1/2 months between posts. In between, I have refrained from responding to many posts about our company, including your posts referring to me as a "bully" and "lowlife". I wouldn't refer to my behavior as "chomping at the bit

I guess if a business owner cares enough to keep up with shopper comments about their company, it is considered "lurking" and if they respond, then they comments are countered with unsupported accusations. In the end, it appears as if Sentry Marketing cannot get a fair shake on this forum. I made a commitment to Jacob in July, 2009 to keep my posts professional and pleasant and in that time, I have lived up to that promise.

As MickeyB wrote in the Primo Solutions thread, mysteryshopforum is a public site and the contents of the posts are returned when someone does a company name search in Google or another search engine. The only purpose for my post is to provide readers of this forum with our side of the criticism levied against us. It's unfortunate that any post that is even remotely positive about our company is marginalized and the person who posted the comments is attacked or discredited.

As I previously stated, I have not always gotten it right. At this point, there is nothing I can do to change the past and can only work hard to improve moving forward. I interact with shoppers nearly every day and have forged great relationships with many people, including several members of this forum.
I can't do anything to address criticism that comes from anonymous sources or from people who are not willing to communiate their issues to me.

My contact information is readily available and I am willing to answer any questions or address any issues personally.

David Agius, Owner
The Sentry Marketing Group
dave@sentrymarketing.com
February 12, 2011 11:08AM
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Posts:4,706
Decent response Dave. As far as discussing this, I prefer Face to face. Since that is unlikely to happen, this open forum is the next best thing. I will not engage in PM's, emails or phone calls. I consider how you conduct yourself and your company of interest to all shoppers.

When the owner of this board has seen fit to warn about you and your company, its time to take a hard look at yourself. Clean up your act, and I will reconsider my evaluation of you.

It is what it is....

Shopping Bama and parts of Georgia.
I'm still learning 24/7.
February 12, 2011 12:36PM
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Posts:280
mrcomputer101,

You make a very good point, however, the "warning" post was started by Mr. Jans in July, 2009. At that time, Mr. Jans and I were able to clear the air and he graciously allowed to me continue participating on this forum. He and I have not had an issue since this time.

I'd rather not discuss the specifics of an issue with an individual shopper in an open forum. There are times when it may be unavoidable if the shopper themselves makes the issue public.

As a company, we are never going to get it right all of the time. We are trying, however, and the opinions and contributions of our shoppers are vital to our success. In the next week or two we will be conducting our second annual shopper opinion survey after which we will be reviewing and revising key SMG policies and procedures.

Again, thank you for your thoughts and your time.
February 12, 2011 07:02PM
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Posts:5,333
Dave, unfortunately my experiences with Sentry have been akin to my feelings for greenbean casserole. I wish you well when you review your shoppers' opinion polls and perhaps I should suggest the aquisition of some asbestos undershorts to facilitate your study.

Her Serene Majesty, Cettie - Goat Queen of Zoltar, Sublime Empress of Her Caprine Domain
February 12, 2011 08:29PM
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Posts:280
Cettie,

I am very sorry that you have such strong feelings of dislike for me and my company. It's unfortunate and it would be great to have the opportunity to hear the specifics about your experience with Sentry and the source of your dissatisfaction.

I am not aware of your experience with Sentry. To my knowledge, you have not completed an assignment for our company, I do not know who you are. I am willing to address your issues with me and my company.

Thank you for your time.

Dave
February 12, 2011 11:11PM
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Posts:48
Oh please give it a rest!!!!
February 12, 2011 11:30PM
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