What is our own responsibility?

I guess some of us disagree, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I would just feel much better knowing that the MAC owner or scheduler or whatever wasn't sitting around every time I complained that XYZ grades too hard, or whatever complaint I have for the day. I keep going back to the Forum is our Break Room feeling. How many of us can be sitting around the table in the breakroom and have the boss come in and the conversation comes to a complete stop. Same feeling.

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Barbage, I understand completely your concern. This should feel like a safe place and I feel that shoppers should be able to state their frustrations freely. I remember in one of Jacob's posts he said that this is a forum for shoppers with MSCs having access or something to that effect. That being said, the thought that the MSCs about which we are complaining might just be reading our posts might cause us to be a little more judicious in our choice of words and keep us a little more civil. It is a delicate balance there, I think.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
Also, taking the welcome wagon idea to a different level...

Suppose we used our ww volunteers as mentors and not just welcomers. There is another group I belong to who assigns a "guide" when you join. When I joined, I made up my user name and chose my password and all, and as soon as I was accepted I received a message that "Joan123" was my guide and that I should PM her with any questions I had. I could read the forums for most of my answers, but there was a couple of times that I couldn't figure something out on my own. I felt like I had a friend right from the start. I PMed her asked her all the questions that I thought were too stupid for the forums and she led me down the right path.

Would something like that work here?

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.

“I'm the one that's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.”
~ Jimi Hendrix

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” ~ Mark Twain

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/06/2014 04:32AM by Shop2LiveinFL.
With respect to MSC reps reading and participating.... I do not see how they can be kept from reading posts in an open forum, since I see no way of knowing who they are unless they elect to tell us. Yes, we can often tell by the content of a post that an MSC rep is the speaker, and then can ask that they identify themselves and their company. Since it seems impractical to keep them out, I want to have a forum guideline that informs them that the owner wishes them to take one simple step (the permanent sig line) to identify themselves.

BTW, as long as I know who is who, I have little or no problem with MSC folks being here.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
LJ, that is exactly what I was thinking! There was a short discussion a while back about mentors and I thought it was a great idea then and still do.

I have a couple more ideas, but (smile) I'm in the middle of writing reports and shouldn't even be on here now, like I am. smiling smiley


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
Wales, the forum can assign read permission, reply permission, or mod rights.

MDavis, when you joined the forum, you chose to use your real name. That is certainly not typical for mystery shoppers. Fortunately, Jacob allows members to keep identities private for many reasons. I don't want to shop a store, bank, apartment, etc., and be positively marked as the shopper, because my real name has been revealed here. MSCs and clients read MSF. Our names and locations would be Googled.

You state "I believe if shoppers expect MSCs and schedulers to identify themselves, we should be willing to identify ourselves and assume responsibility for our posts. If some of us can be anonymous all of us should enjoy that privilege." This is not the nature of this business, which transfers to MSF. I assume responsibility for my posts, without providing public identifiers. If the mystery is removed from the shopper, there would be no integrity in shops. All real names here would be black-listed. If the MSC or client gleans my name via credit card or driver's license, and cross-references that I have contributed here, what would be the point? Additionally, while it doesn't happen often, it has happened ~ Unscrupulous MSCs have revealed shopper identities. Additionally, unscrupulous MSCs have taken undeserved retaliatory measures against our members - deactivation, attempted black ballling with other MSCs, abusive/threatening PMs and emails. Why? Because, the shopper justly criticized, or called the MSC on the carpet, after exhausting other measures.

Of course, we have also had unscrupulous, or misguided shoppers. We've gotten very good at spotting, and calling them out.

Sometimes, an MSC's contribution is enlightening. I beieve this is a forum for the shopper, by the shopper. I do realize that there have been occasions when MSCs have been unjustly defamed. Their contribution has given the other side of the story. While we have requested MSCs to identify themselves, there has been resistance. If we are to share the same space, I would like them to be required to introduce themselves and have a permanent signature line. There are mystery shoppers, but I haven't heard of mystery MSCs. Their presence should be transparent.

Clients who have found MSF are a horse of a different color.
Mert, we disagree. It's not equitable to force the MSCs and schedulers to carry a byline when we don't use our own names. If Jacob wants only shoppers with no MSC reps or schedulers that would require intensive screening. Also, many schedulers and MSC owners are also shoppers and that would have to be considered. Should a shopper be excluded for having other employment? Or should a shopper be excluded only for having other employment inside the mystery shopping community?

Many MSC representatives identify themselves because they want to address issues related to their companies. Good for them. This would be a much more civil forum if every poster identified him/herself. But we don't want to. We want to be anonymous but we want to know who they are. I can't think of a logical solution to that problem.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
I can agree to disagree. This is a forum for shoppers, and equitability with MSCs and clients, is not possible.
I am under the assumption that everything I post is being read by MSC representatives. If I post something, I know that I will have to take the repercussions for it.

I am one of the founding members of a group that is invite only both to read and to post. We do have specific criteria, but since there is no way to prove we actually meet the criteria, we have to take it at their word. I think that trying to close off posting to certain groups would make it more likely to have company reps here who were completely trying to keep their identity a secret. What proof could we provide that we were a shopper that a company rep wouldn't be able to reproduce anyway.

I had used the word mentor earlier. My thoughts were not that we would be mentoring them on how to be a shopper or all the tricks of the trade. It was more of a way to be aware of some of the unspoken guidelines of the forum. If we could give the new person some indication of the culture of the forum and avoid the constant give me a list of the best companies that pay a lot and require no work entries. If we could avoid those and the random rants about a company without any useful information, I think it may go a long way in avoid the long term member snapping because they have heard the same question 27 times this week.
Yes, Shelly. I think you've squarely hit that nail.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
Could there be names of members willing to mentor? Newcomers would have a list, and could PM, according to comfort level. Previously, there have been suggestions about a welcome letter which could be stickied, and also emailed to new posters, which would contain contacts and forum info. Thoughts?
The upside of letting the newcomers choose as opposed to assigning them a mentor would be that if they spent any times in the forums first, they might get a feel for which mentor has more expertise in a specific area or has posted something about which they have a particular interest.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
That is an interesting idea. Maybe the member introductions section, or "new shoppers" section could have a sticky thread just for mentors to indicate their interest. It would *just* be a listing of mentors. If you want to be a mentor, simply reply to the thread, outlining your area of expertise. Potential shoppers would then be able to contact you as desired.
I would like to help members who are struggling with writing, grammar, sentence structure, etc. This morning, I read a post from a member complaining about an MSC that rejected a report due to spelling and grammar errors. All the while, I am thinking that if his/her post is any indication of their writing skills, it is no wonder the report was rejected. Being a tutor of English and grammar, I felt the need to help her in some way. I am an English major and I tutored high school students for five years. Perhaps if a member had a mentor in this area and assured that they would not be criticized, they would be more likely to accept the help. Your thoughts are appreciated.

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. -Henry David Thoreau
Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out. -Frank Clark
My area is traditional mystery shopping, not video. I would like to chat with new shoppers who have questions or concerns. Subsequently, we could talk about how to negotiate bonuses, and build relationships with schedulers to try to give us an edge over the competition.
Very thought provoking question. Do you want to encourage someone who you know is going to fail? I try and be realistic with new members. I tell them it takes $$$ to start mystery shopping, you will not see any profits for 2-3 months and there is research involved and filling out many boring applications. Where I live a car is a must but when I stated that you need a car for mystery shopping I was jumped on by the public transportation shoppers so I guess it is possible to be a mystery shopper using public transportation depending on where you live. The mystery shopping companies that do not require a writing sample are not doing the shoppers any favors and may be setting them up for failure. A basic understanding of spelling and grammar is essential. I think being honest is the best favor that you can do for newbies but it can be done in a kind way.
I can't believe this part of the forum has been here for a month and I just discovered it today.

I have one suggestion to add to the "mentor" suggestion: Have the mentors make a signature line such as:

Forum mentor, please PM me if you have questions


Forum mentor, please PM me if you have questions about (video shopping, grammar and writing, forum rules, taxes, equipment, whatever specialty the mentor wants to help with)

that way a newbie reading in a thread would have a feel for the mentor's experience and personality and wouldn't have to go to another part of the forum to see who was willing to be PM'd with questions.

Time to build a bigger bridge.
I just found it today as well. There are many great ideas from everybody. Love the discussion.
Mentoring is a great idea. Because I have been doing so in this forum, I can state it needs no special list or signature line. At times, something about a post attracts my attention and I'll reach out to the poster in PM. That can lead to a discussion and such a relationship. I have found it can be quite rewarding when helping a new shopper through a difficult situation.

Like Nike said, "Just do it." smiling smiley

Happily shopping Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut
Not everyone will do that, or even realizes there is such a thing as a PM when they first get here, or thinks a PM would be welcomed if they do.

Time to build a bigger bridge.
What you say is true. However my comment is a suggestion to the veterans that they can mentor people if they wish. Part of doing that is letting folks know some people are approachable.

Happily shopping Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut
vlade, I partially agree with you and partially agree with dspeakes. I have been doing what you've been doing for a while now and find it both fun and rewarding. smiling smiley

On the other hand, I personally like dspeakes' suggestion of having volunteer mentors, who include something like, "Forum mentor, please PM me if you have questions" in their sig line.


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
On the idea of mentoring; I can think of few things more frustrating that answering the same question over and over, which is why I feel like PMing information to members is only productive in the short run. If I am going to take the time to address an issue, I prefer that the answer to be visible for all to see and learn from.

What about a section of the forum called "Ask an Expert". Those who wish to partake could start a thread, introduce themselves and explain their expertise, then field questions specifically addressed to them. The key would be in creating a thread title that that succinctly states your area of expertise.

That way, mentors could quickly and easily locate and address questions related to them.
In some ways, without being designated as mentors, we do our part regularly when receiving Private Messages from members, new or not, after reading our posts. I am sure everyone of us have had that experience. They PM because of our posts. I have never received a PM because they were upset at my post but because they wanted to know more. Or they simply wanted to have a regular buddy in the Forum. Heaven forbid that I receive something nasty, knock on wood.

But of course, I would not want to have an ongoing PM. Time would not allow that. I have sent a PM a number of times as well to expand on the posts and they had been very, very informative.

Sometimes, just having done a particular shop a number of times successfully could qualify one to be a mentor for that assignment. JMHO. I would look for that mentor if I came across a complicating shop which I am not so sure, rather than contact a scheduler.

I once contacted a scheduler about something I was concerned about and instead of an explanation, she said I was good to go. Nothing about my problem.
If I had been your mentor the recommendation would have been to stop working with a company whose scheduler would not clarify the guidelines for yousmiling smiley

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
Yes, Lisa. I wish you were. But I completed the shop based on my instinct and it went through.
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