Shopper-Scheduler Relationships: Etiquette, Ethics, and Rules

Hey, everyone.

What are your thoughts about shopper-scheduler relationship ethics, etiquette, and rules (informal and formal)? This is a spin-off question from a post I made in the Papa John's thread, where I asked whether it was okay to ever contact a scheduler out of the blue and ask if you could perform a bonused shop somewhere - where no such bonused offer was advertised to the masses?

It got me thinking of what is acceptable and unacceptable actions between scheduler and shopper. I really feel like this is an area that mystery shopping companies don't always do a good job of laying out expectations for when you first join them. Maybe I'm wrong, but it feels like there are a lot of unspoken norms or rules between shopper and scheduler that exist and shoppers must learn by experience or asking others (such as here) that aren't described in basic shopper training.

For example, I asked about whether "hidden shops" existed before in a separate thread. And I didn't know that shoppers could build individual relationships with schedulers that could facilitate things more easily like route building and other things. And, actually, I'm still kind of unclear about how this even works and what happens.

But I think my main question(s) is what types of engagement are considered okay between shopper and scheduler and is it unfair to other shoppers if they aren't aware of these things?

My example in the PJ's shop situation was that what if other shoppers weren't aware that they could just contact a scheduler directly and ask for a bonused shop that wasn't being advertised as such to the general shopper pool? Would it be unfair for me then to call a scheduler and ask for a bonus at some location? And if these requests are perfectly normal and acceptable, why don't all mystery shopping companies just tell us up front?

Sorry for the long post. Just wanted to elaborate to make sure people understood my concern properly.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2017 06:30AM by shoptastic.

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It really does look like someone is gathering our opinions and analyses for a book. This would not be the first time and perhaps the OP does not recognize the potential legal consequence of how forum posts may, or may not, be used.

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.
To my way of thinking, shopping is an entrepreneurial enterprise. It's creative, and each shopper handles their business as they see fit. Nothing other than social norms and ethics affect how I interact with schedulers. Relationships between schedulers and shoppers don't need to be defined any further. It's nice to come here and find out what others are doing and share thoughts, but that's different than writing out rules of engagement. There is no "normal" in mystery shopping. We are a shadow society. It's all but impossible to impose rules on us beyond the controls of the shops. This is not a field where a training handbook would apply. Shoppers need to think on their feet, and responses need to be tailored to the current situation.

Edited: I'm not saying that MSing is "secret" society (though there is a case to be made for that), but a shadow society. We blend in with our surroundings, but have an undisclosed purpose for our actions.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2017 02:15PM by ChrisCooper.
I went deep undercover into the dangerous underworld of mystery shopping. While there I ate, slept and lived along side of the natives where I learned their customs, rituals and secrets. That's right all of their prized secrets. Secrets and techniques they spent years perfecting.

"Never believe anything you read on the internet"- Abraham Lincoln
@ShopSouthTexas wrote:

Is this a new chapter?
Ah, yes! I missed that the subject heading reads like a chapter title.

OP has stated that she is recovering from a medical issue, and the forum is her pastime. Am I too naive?
Schedulers who are actual employees of an MSC have to follow the MSC's rules. We are not privy to those rules. If we cross a boundary, they'll tell us "I can't do that". IC schedulers are at the same risk we are -- if they fail to follow their ICA's, they will lose their job, too.
@walesmaven wrote:

It really does look like someone is gathering our opinions and analyses for a book. This would not be the first time and perhaps the OP does not recognize the potential legal consequence of how forum posts may, or may not, be used.

walesmaven,

I'm going to send you a PM to respond to this further, but you need to immediately stop loose accusations like this! Have you stopped to think what you're doing? I'm not sure if your post was intended to openly accuse me of lying or not (or some other type of dishonesty), but it had that tone and I interpreted that way. If I'm wrongly interpreting it, I shall work it out with you here and we can just maybe chalk it up to a misunderstanding.

But, if not, then what you're doing - whether you know it or not - is serious. You're openly and loosely accusing someone of being a fraud and liar who is a worker in this profession. That's not something that should be done lightly. I am not writing any sort of book. And I'm not aware of any such thing happening in the past, so if my questions sound like that, then I genuinely don't know what to say. It's just how I process things and think about things. I don't think that can change, because that's how I am.

And in terms of the "potential legal consequence" part, I am not sure what you're referring to, but I am not breaking any laws and do not intend to. I am not writing a book, do not intend to, and do not want to have that accusation thrown around at me.

This is a professional request to you and everyone else who may have ever made that accusation to immediately and please stop! Think about what you're saying and doing and how it might affect others.

I'm happy to respond to genuine concerns about this if anyone has them (although, even that is a time burden that I do not like and seems ridiculous that I would need to, but I would do it if necessary), but I won't stand for false allegations thrown at me. And I wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else either.
Shoptastic, I think you are super analyzing the Mystery Shopping experience. I do think you mean well and would like answers to all of your questions. Speaking for myself you just have to be reliable, honest and follow the contracts that you sign with each MSC. You can always contact a scheduler with your questions about bonuses and Guidelines. You need to build a rapport with experience. I email my schedulers all the time with questions, date changes, bonuses and many other things. This is between you and your MSC and scheduler. I have found them to be most accommodating. If you have built a rapport with them and are reliable you have no need to wonder about etiquette, rules and ethics.
I am not the first person to raise this issue. In addition, there is a history of other former forum members pursuing similar lines of questions that have turned into publications and/or blogs based on posts here. If that is not your case, I apologize. All of the other instances were of MS professionals as well. I did not accuse you of mot being a professional.

Publication of forum posts is the only action that might engender legal consequences. Since that is not your intention, there is nothing to worry about.

I am quite content to discuss all of this in open forum.

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.
Yikes! How on earth did my same post get posted all these many times?! Echo, echo. Sorry.

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.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2017 07:38PM by walesmaven.
Deleted triplicate post!

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.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2017 07:39PM by walesmaven.
Quadruplicate post removed!

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.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2017 07:40PM by walesmaven.
shoptastic, I think you are oversensitive. You want want an endless number of answers and it appears that you spend a lot of time reading the posts that respond to your questions and thinking about what they say and analyzing what they mean. You sound as though you view walesmaven's post as a major personal attack on you and I don't take it as that at all. walesmaven seems to be trying to express that many are perplexed by the frequency and complex nature of your questions.
Thank you, roflwofl,
You expressed it better that I did. Perplexed is exactly what many are about this.

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.
When asking so many questions don't be surprised when people ask a few back and don't get your knickers in a knot over it. You could be writing a book or a blog, it has happened before. It really pissed me off to see some things said by myself and other long time members on a blog where a "shopper" was trying to make money using our thoughts and experiences.

If you are a new shopper or someone thinking about getting into the business, I totally agree with the comment about you over analyzing.......everything. This thread in particular shows you do not have a grasp of the business, in particular that it is a business. It is not up to the MSC to outline all these things to their vendors. Thank the goddess, we are not employees. We are each running our own businesses. Start thinking like your plumber or lawn service or electrician instead. You decide how much you want to make. You decide if a job is worthwhile. You decide whether to ask for a bonus and how much you need to make the assignment profitable.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
You are a curious one, shoptastic. You've been a member of the forum for a few months. In your early days, as a newbie, you started another thread, similar in nature, regarding ethics. [www.mysteryshopforum.com] Fast forward two plus months and you're asking members to give more of their time, delve deeper, and provide you with more insight in your quest.

So many serious questions you pose - fastest/slowest. . . how do people make $1,000. . . would unique shop reports. . .do you like. . . do you need a data plan. . . where are the fee prices. . . what do you consider sucker prices. . .ethics. . . and ethics, again. Your posts have also been peppered with some violations.

Members of this forum are generous with their time and advice. As a mystery shopper, you must realize that a shopper's senses become heightened when something smells funky. We cannot help ourselves.
Hey everyone.

I will permanently leave this forum. I'm too discouraged and upset to stay. I'll still login to address anything related to this thread for a few weeks, but I'd rather not stay and argue or take a lot of time giving my thoughts anymore.

I'll simply say that I enjoy talking! If there's a problem with that, I'd suggest someone ignore what I write or ask. It's not required that anyone answer my questions.

I don't appreciate the tone, suspicion, lecturing, etc. because it's totally out of place in my opinion.

Even if a person were to have lots of questions, I would never think there was something "wrong" with that person. I mean, unless it's outrageously excessive or has some other problem (can't really think of anything off the top of my head to be more specific here). I can't recall, but I believe I've mentioned that I wasn't some book writer in the past. To have what feels like a high level of paranoia and suspicion is unsettling to me and unfriendly.

I've hung around other forums before for all sorts of topics (from religion to exercise) and people have great discussions. If I'm not interested, I simply don't respond and move on. I don't butt into a conversation, lecture others over their interests, suggest they have ulterior motives, make snide remarks about them, etc. etc.

I honestly don't think my questions are unusual either! Maybe it's subjective. I don't know. But I would think people SHOULD care about these things. And I do appreciate people's perspective and I try to think about how others perceive things. But I may not agree. For example, in this post above, I do think that MSCs should let shoppers know that they can ask for and negotiate shops (plus bonuses). It would put everyone on an even playing field.

I guess I'm in shock and not too happy at the moment. I have no hard feelings toward anyone, but am just frustrated. If it's worth anything to anyone who might wish to know my perspective, I do think there's an "oppressive" atmosphere here at times. And it has to do with what I said earlier about people butting into others' questions and interests and sort of "policing" their thoughts/interests. To me that's rude and unnecessary! I'm not opposed someone asking me politely what my intentions are if there was something suspicious. But to throw accusations out in a loose kind of way without talking to me or thinking outside of one's own perception of things (we all have our limited view of things sometimes and should always try to give others the benefit of the doubt and try to take time to understand them) is hurtful and not a good way to approach things.

I would have preferred that someone PM'd me or talked to me nicely and asked me things straight up. There was no need to jump into my threads with snide comments or accusations. That's low and immature.

Why even have a forum if people can't have discussions?!! sad smiley Is someone that egregious to post a question once a week? If any of my questions were abnormal, can you please point them out and post them here. I didn't think I was being unreasonable.

Apologies if I sound not so nice. I'm not very happy at the moment and wanted to vent.

But to make it easier, I'm going to permanently leave. I'll be willing to stay in this thread for a few weeks to work out anything that anyone may have had problems with. After that, I feel it would be better for my own time and emotional equanimity to leave and do other things with my time.

(By the way, I have been a part of "toxic" forum environments online with "bad actors" before, so I can understand a degree of community "policing." But I've also seen forums get overly oppressive in that direction. I don't want one or more people throwing out negative comments at me for doing nothing wrong (certainly nothing intentionally) in an online forum. It's upsetting. So I'd rather just leave. And I don't hold any hard feelings toward anyone. I wish you all the best in your mystery shopping from the bottom of my heart!)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/20/2017 04:10AM by shoptastic.
@Mert wrote:

Your posts have also been peppered with some violations.

Mert, what are the posts that I had violations in?

I only know of one (the Buckalew Hospitality question that I posted this week) and I hope people read my thoughts and apology in it.

Was there any other? If so, where (I really can't think of any other one)? Thanks.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/20/2017 04:15AM by shoptastic.
"For example, in this post above, I do think that MSCs should let shoppers know that they can ask for and negotiate shops (plus bonuses). It would put everyone on an even playing field."

Seriously? Perhaps if you had spent more time reading the responses rather than getting into a snit, you would understand how absurd that comment really is. And make sure next time you hire a painter you tell them up front it is okay to ask for and negotiate bonuses from you. Hell, you won't even need Angie's List anymore, they will all be beating a path to your door.

Let me repeat this, we are not employees working for the same company who need to develop some sort of camaraderie. In the most technical sense, we are all actually competitors. After struggling in this business on my own, I discovered a forum. That forum was much less friendly and helpful than this one. Instead of b-itching when I didn't get the answer I wanted in the way I wanted, I reminded myself how lucky I was to be able to learn from other's mistakes. So if you have gotten your precious feelings hurt, guess what, you are never going to be able to run your own business.

Edited to get around the damn censorship.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/20/2017 04:24AM by LisaSTL.
" For example, in this post above, I do think that MSCs should let shoppers know that they can ask for and negotiate shops (plus bonuses). It would put everyone on an even playing field."

I don't WANT an even playing field! I think the best should be duly compensated; by "best", I mean those of us who have paid their dues and proven their reliability and integrity. But I've been quite open about suggesting how "newbies" can ask for and get bonuses. If you've been doing a job for 10 years, do you think the college drop out who started last week is worth as much as you are? I don't think so! If I am willing to get those bonused shops by working 17 hour days, should the shopper who isn't willing to drive more than 30 miles get the same $100 I get for a shop 90 miles from my house? I don't think so.

That being said -- disagreeing with you, but I hope in a non-inflammatory, non-hurtful way -- I do hope you reconsider and don't leave the forum.

A forum doesn't teach/learn/communicate if it's left with only the members who agree with one another.

Oh, what a dreadfully boring place this old Earth would be if no one ever disagreed with one another!!!!!

Please, do stay!

smiling smiley
There were a number of times when I wondered if I ever signed up with an MSC since I never go to their job board nor heard of them. Yet, I regularly receive a call or an email about an upscale shop. When I check their website, I don't ever see any other shop available. Since I kind of specialize in high-end shops, I wondered if the schedulers were networking and a scheduler who I had a good relationship with had recommended me.

Anyway, since I am signed with a lot of MSCs, I am glad to be re-acquainted with some MSCs. And this allows me also to sign up with new ones who offer me the 'hidden' new upscale shops. It gives me the opportunity to start developing a good relationship with a new scheduler. I welcome an honest rapport with schedulers. I don't find anything untoward about offering a 'hidden' shop. The usual goal is to have a shop successfully completed.
I agree with all of the above. You earn your way by experience. I have had schedulers call or email me and state that they got my name from another scheduler. I have had schedulers email associates so I could combine my routes.
Shoptastic you should not leave the forum based on other people's opinions or answers to your questions. I do think that you are over reacting. If you don't like one of the shoppers answers, just ignore them. There have been shoppers on this forum that are instigators, most I don't bother with. There are also a lot of smart, educated, hard working shoppers who have been here for a long time. We're in this together. And most important: Have fun!
flounce
flouns/
verb
verb: flounce; 3rd person present: flounces; past tense: flounced; past participle: flounced; gerund or present participle: flouncing

1. go or move in an exaggeratedly impatient or angry manner.

"Never believe anything you read on the internet"- Abraham Lincoln
Shoptastic has clarified his intentions, so I see no reason to keep bashing him. I despise a pile on. Shoptastic, I'm sorry your feelings were hurt. Forums are tough sometimes. I agree with Shopper8 that you shouldn't leave. People will get used to you, and if not, toggle them.
today is 420 but who needs to smoke? just read these long repetitive posts & u will fall alseep w/no probs.
with all these long long posts when does op find time to shop? maybe doing a shop or 2 will answer many questions.
@walesmaven wrote:

I am not the first person to raise this issue. In addition, there is a history of other former forum members pursuing similar lines of questions that have turned into publications and/or blogs based on posts here. If that is not your case, I apologize. All of the other instances were of MS professionals as well. I did not accuse you of mot being a professional.

Publication of forum posts is the only action that might engender legal consequences. Since that is not your intention, there is nothing to worry about.

I am quite content to discuss all of this in open forum.
i asked op if she was writing a food book cause of all the food questionms,
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