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Mystery Shopping Company Discussion

Has anybody taken compliance action against a MSC?
Posts:86
After reading many of the threads and posts here, I was wondering if anyone had taken any action with a state agency to get payment from non paying MSCs.
I live in Washington State and we have a pretty aggressive State Attorney General.
It appears that out of state MSCs that contract for work in the state have to meet all of the business registration and reporting requirements as in state business owners. If they get behind on their taxes and or fail to report their business activities in the state, the state will fine and suspend them contracting any business activity in the state.

Has anyone filed this type of complaint?

Has anyone contacted the client after the action to get payment?
I recently was part of a private jury, where a company was doing work for an instate company similar to mystery shopping. The case resulted in the local business being responsible for paying the independent contractors directly. The out of state company had failed to register and pay taxes in this state. It was the obligation of the local company to make sure that anyone they contracted with complied with all state laws and regulations.
This made me think that most of the flakey MSCs have not registered in the state. I checked the business registration website. The ones that seem to have lots of concerns about payments are not registered.

Does anybody have any experience?

I am not looking for warnings from anybody on the issue. I realize that once this road is traveled , that MSC will not be using me again.
August 21, 2010 03:42PM
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Posts:18,344
I have done some checking before and all local indications are to, "Take it to Small Claims Court." While governmental agencies will go to bat for private individuals and landlords cheated by businesses or tenants, an Independent Contractor is considered "at risk" and must go through Small Claims or hire an attorney to take the claims through the courts. The basic filing fee here for Small Claims is around $250 and the cases are generally sent to an arbitrator. The arbitrators seem to think that cost splitting both for the claim and the court fees is the only feasible answer. I recognize that different areas handle this differently, with one shopper reporting that the cost of Small Claims in their area was $15.

It would appear that a complaint to the MSPA about one of their members falls on deaf ears.

Folks seem to have gotten the best response to payment issues by filing with the Better Business Bureau.
August 21, 2010 03:52PM
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Posts:7,803
Check out the Restaurant Evaluators thread here. Two of us here have contacted clients after the MSC avoided and evaded.

**********************************************************************
“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
August 21, 2010 04:11PM
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Posts:12
Because they "lost my reports" or "couldn't find the ID numbers" or "had no record" of jobs I did, they required me to give them the information they had erased from my profile, so I was "in-the-hole" to several companies for over $300.

I got fed-up and sent a nicely-worded demand letter which was just a Notice of Lawsuit.

Guess what? They suddenly "found" everything that was so permanently "lost."

They paid almost immediately.

Most of these MSCs are scum and prey on people who need the money.

If you need help, PM me for details (if you can PM on this Board).
August 31, 2010 03:22PM
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Posts:61
Warning: This User Has Been Banned or Is No Longer Active
Bestmark a vice president threatned me since I contacted the company that I shopped since Bestmark would not pay properly. I had a lawyer contact them and did they ever back off. The client was not very happy with BestMark. I hope that client took there business elsewhere.
January 05, 2011 05:54PM
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Posts:1,028
vanster2000,

Many had disagreed with me on this previously, but anonymous contacting of clients will insulate you from any possible legalities from an msc since they won't know your identity. The clients should be made fully aware how unethical their msc is and as a consequence, they will suffer when their shops are not filled by disgruntled shoppers who are boycotting their contracted services.

You really are doing the client a favor in giving them a heads up and I see nothing wrong whatsoever in playing real hardball with these disgusting msc's.

Remember, the msc can wave the ICA in your face, but they themselves are in violation for not paying you. I am still waitng for somebody to show me a case filed anywhere against a shopper who has violated an ica. Judgements in NY and many other states are not enforceable anyway, so screw the msc...

For shame too that this industry refuses to police it's members. What the hell does the MSPA do to assist unpaid shoppers????
January 05, 2011 10:39PM
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Posts:86
No worries, The first trial is 1/6/2011. We wills see wahat happens and report back. See other threads about the bad Karma.
January 06, 2011 01:26AM
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Posts:753
In the Spring of 2008, I completed an assignment for an MSC with whom I'd been contracted since 2005. When I wasn't paid, I wrote letters to the scheduler and then the MSC; no answers from either party. One of the requirements of this shop had been to open an account with the client bank, My final letter explained that if I didn't receive my fee, it would be necessary for me to enlist the aid of said institution; I received a call from the MSC within the hour. Their explanation was to blame the scheduler; she allegedly gave me permission to open the wrong type of account. Assuming she did, that had nothing to do with refusing me payment, which arrived within days. Although I was never deactivated, all subsequent applications for work were ignored; SO BE IT! I've yet to encounter an MSC who pays sufficiently for me to take it in the rump.
January 06, 2011 01:52AM
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Posts:1,590
Van, what type of trial is tomorrow?

Carol
January 06, 2011 02:04AM
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Posts:200
This business is going down the tubes.
January 06, 2011 03:10PM
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Posts:86
Judgement was awarded against Direct Scheduling Services to day in District court. The King County District Court awarded a judgement for unpaid shops, expenses and collection costs today. The court ruled that Mellissa Benson and associates were conducting business in Washington State. An order for payment was issued by the court today. It was made enforceable in all 50 states.

So even if Mellissa is broke, it can be served on the other scheduling service involved in the scam. I will update as the collection and enforcement proceeds.
January 06, 2011 04:05PM
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Posts:179
Warning: This User Has Been Banned or Is No Longer Active
vanster2000 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Judgement was awarded against Direct Scheduling
> Services to day in District court. The King County
> District Court awarded a judgement for unpaid
> shops, expenses and collection costs today. The
> court ruled that Mellissa Benson and associates
> were conducting business in Washington State. An
> order for payment was issued by the court today.
> It was made enforceable in all 50 states.
>
> So even if Mellissa is broke, it can be served on
> the other scheduling service involved in the scam.
> I will update as the collection and enforcement
> proceeds.

Yay! Score one for shoppers against this pair of fraudulent MSC/Scheduling Services.

Can you be more specific about this, though? I am a bit confused by what you wrote in this thrread and the DSS one, though. Was this for a job you did, and was it small claims, Attorney General action, or is this a more far-reaching verdict (class action, etc.)?
January 06, 2011 04:46PM
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Posts:12
I hope the business "mystery shopped" was included in the lawsuit . . . but I doubt it since it would have probably been immediately settled.

That's what I threatened and got paid immediately. Someone else did basically the same thing and got paid quickly. The MSC is agent for the business and can get them in joint liability. And don't let the MSC waive their Independent Contract in front of you at all. Once they breach it (break it) by not paying -- ALL bets are off and you can contact anyone you want. I think it's best to give them a "drop dead" letter so they can't claim some underling dropped the ball.


vanster2000 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Judgement was awarded against Direct Scheduling
> Services to day in District court. The King County
> District Court awarded a judgement for unpaid
> shops, expenses and collection costs today. The
> court ruled that Mellissa Benson and associates
> were conducting business in Washington State. An
> order for payment was issued by the court today.
> It was made enforceable in all 50 states.
>
> So even if Mellissa is broke, it can be served on
> the other scheduling service involved in the scam.
> I will update as the collection and enforcement
> proceeds.
January 06, 2011 10:21PM
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