Fair or unfair?

I have been doing a series of shops for one of the major MSCs. There are dozens of locations, lots of details and variables at each stop. The pay per stop is quite modest, but in aggregate there's some meat on the bone (if all goes well) but the shoppers aren't getting rich by any means. The shops require some supplies that have to be shipped out ahead, without which the shops don't fly.

I don't care to name either the MSC or the client. The general details I'm presenting should suffice.

I've recently been informed that there is a problem with the supplies and they have to be replaced. All work on the shops is to cease until the replacements arrive. There are three days left before the deadline for the whole project. The particular issue hasn't been shared with me, but it seems to be a problem that originates with the client possibly the MSC. They have said that the supplies were apparently wrong from the start and all shops done to date are tainted because of it. The project has been going on for weeks, with thousands of shops nationwide. The problem is entirely beyond the control or oversight of the shoppers.

I had a final push planned to finish off my committed locations before the deadline, leaving a day or two to resolve any issues that come up. The remaining locations are about 120 miles round trip from me. As these shops are fairly lean, I have work for other MSCs built into the route. Crop diversity, if you will. As I cannot expect those other MSCs to extend their deadlines I will have to proceed with those stops anyway, even though the route is no longer profitable with the primary shops postponed. When the replacement supplies arrive, I'll need to make another trip to the area to complete those alone: another light day that I likely won't be able to fill out. Between the redundant travel and the two light route, I'll loose a fair bit of money. The whole project will end up to be well into in the red for me, all over an issue that I did not control or contribute to in any way.

I very gently and politely explained all this to the MSC, suggesting that they should share in that financial loss to me. I invited them into a discussion wherein we could together find an equitable way to do that.. In reply, they suggested that they could cancel the remaining shops to reduce my load instead. No compromise possible, in fact no discussion possible.

I have read multiple times on this forum that the company in question operates with high integrity and fairness, and is favored among shoppers for this. I've been happy to work for them in the past but my experience in this matter stands in stark contrast to the reports others have given for them.

So here's' the question. Is it unreasonable to think the MSC should at least share in the verifiable losses due to their error, or the error of their client? And engage meaningfully with me to find an equitable way to do that?

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It's reasonable but it's not going to happen. I had about the same thing happen with another group of jobs that I had intregrated with other jobs from other MSCs. I received an email notification that the project was on hold, not to do any of the locations until advised. I too had a double route and barely broke even not including the extra drive time.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/2019 11:26PM by tstewart3.
So the bottom line is that you had a route set up and some of the shops got cancelled. All you can do now is scramble to find fillers and, assuming you can't reschedule all the others, run the route.

It sucks, but your options are few.
Don't you wish there were business insurance for this unexpected and unforeseeable loss?

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. - Stanley Horowitz
Perhaps you will get to redo the ones already done and tainted? Perhaps those were closer in geography to you? Maybe some extra $$ will flow from there.
@panama18 wrote:

So the bottom line is that you had a route set up and some of the shops got cancelled. All you can do now is scramble to find fillers and, assuming you can't reschedule all the others, run the route.

It sucks, but your options are few.

I hadn't thought about it quite that way but yes, that's essentially what happened. Shops from a route got cancelled. Two thirds of a route got cancelled. Now I scramble to flesh the thing back out.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/09/2019 03:44AM by JustForFun.
Stuff happens. It's happened to me. I did the shops I contracted for. Didn't come close to break even.

But I have a long memory! Chances of me signing up for more shops for that MSC are slim.

smiling smiley

You are in business for yourself. Fair or unfair, it's just what it is. Sometimes we eat a loss.

I do hope you find some fillers. Think fast food, gas stations, whatever.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/09/2019 03:38AM by ceasesmith.
@Equine24 wrote:

Perhaps you will get to redo the ones already done and tainted? Perhaps those were closer in geography to you? Maybe some extra $$ will flow from there.

I suppose that is possible. There's been no discussion about redoing the others. But this has all come about pretty fast. Once the immediate crisis of reshipping supplies fastest way is done maybe that thought will surface.
Actually, I had a thought -- it seems to me when I get those FedEx'ed packages they spent more sending me the stuff than they are paying me to do the shop.

Many of the "shipments" I receive could be sent first class USPS for less than $3.

Don't they even know or care? Seems to me it would be fair to spend less on shipping and more on the shopper pay!
@Shop-et-al wrote:

Don't you wish there were business insurance for this unexpected and unforeseeable loss?

@ceasesmith wrote:

Stuff happens. It's happened to me. I did the shops I contracted for. Didn't come close to break even.

But I have a long memory! Chances of me signing up for more shops for that MSC are slim.

.

I may work for this company again. Or I may not. The jury is still out.

But I too have a long memory. The rate they pay to get my attention will now forevermore be upcharged accordingly. If they can mismanage one major project in this way they can do it again. It's my problem to make sure I am not so close to the bone that I can't absorb their incompetence. So they won't be getting anything like the preferred rate they enjoyed this time. And they will never again be a cornerstone for a route. The success or failure of MY route will never be in their hands again.

This behavior on their part is no longer unexpected or unforeseeable. I have to be my own insurance company.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/09/2019 04:02AM by JustForFun.
Many years ago, I accepted two shops, approx 100 miles round for company A because I could route them with two other jobs for company B. The night before the work, though, company B's two disappeared from my page. After completing the assignments for company A, I contacted company B, Informa, and explained that I had only accepted their work as it was profitable to drive 100 miles for four jobs, but certainly not for two. They investigated and ruled in my favor with pay. I neither asked nor was told what had occurred; I was thankful for the money.
I have respect for a company that tells you to put shops on hold because there has been an error and does not throw the client under the bus for blame but is just silent regarding blame. My guess is that whether it was the MSC's "fault" or not, the MSC will recognize the legal obligation to pay shoppers for the shops performed but unusable. The MSC may be paying completely out of their pocket if it is their fault or they may be doing some sort of cost sharing with the client if it is the client's fault. I seriously doubt that in any event the client will be paying the MSC 100% of the agreed price per completed shop for those shops performed already. This is not a situation where there are any winners.

If your relationship has been good and trusting with the MSC, this is annoying but should not destroy your trust or respect. Accidents and oversights happen to all of us. Do scramble for more shops to fill your existing route and cancel the remaining shops for this MSC if you must. Be annoyed, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Flash said what I was thinking better than I could have. Since you did not mention this I assume they will be paying you for all the shops you already performed even though they cannot be used. That speaks to me to the integrity of this company and on how they value you, their shoppers. They, the client?, the mystery shop company? are probably losing a lot more than you are if they pay you but are sharing with you on whatever profit they may have made up to now to compensate you. Since this is a very long trip you do not want to do twice and they have offered you the choice to cancel the remaining shops with no penalty to you that sounds like a good solution to me. You can put your efforts towards filling in the first trip you already have scheduled and thank your lucky stars they are not abandoning you when it comes to the first shops.
In other industries there are many times when plans are changed and a job goes away that someone was planning on and around. I would bet if you looked at your contract with the msc there is something in there about the possibility of "sh**" happening. Maybe not but if you look and find it let us know so we all know the perils we are taking on when we accept a job.
@Flash wrote:

If your relationship has been good and trusting with the MSC, this is annoying but should not destroy your trust or respect. Accidents and oversights happen to all of us. Do scramble for more shops to fill your existing route and cancel the remaining shops for this MSC if you must. Be annoyed, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I appreciate the baby / bathwater reminder. Definitely something to consider.

I have done only occasional shops for this company in the past. All but one went fine. That one was returned to me with a question about a statement I never made. Whoever reviewed the report just didn't read for content and thought I said something that I didn't say. A quick reply with clarification and it passed without further issue or delay. I won't say the relationship was good or trusting. And I certainly won't say it was bad. It was fine, with one very minor bump in the road caused by some hurried reviewing on their part.

I normally build up to large series of shops, taking just one or a couple before committing to whole big bunches. Especially if it's a specific shop I haven't done before. In this case, on the strength of postings on the forum - others' positive statements about this company's integrity and fairness - I agreed to do a large series of identical shops. But it hasn't turned out well. Not terrible, just not good.

The shops are easy enough once you figure out what they want. But that's the rub. There are a thousand variables that are not covered in the documents. The whole thing has run like a trial or beta test. I've been doing these for 8-9 days straight and have received no less than four multiple-page re-writes of the instructions. Each one has reversed some things that were absolute dos or don't that were in the prior version(s). And each new guideline has been sent as an update or "tips and tricks" addenda leaving all prior versions still in force / applicable. So taken as a whole, stern warnings exist against things that were hailed as correct in a prior revision of the instructions. It's been hard to sort out what they actually want. Just when you think you've got it down, one of the 10,000 undefined scenarios pops up and adds an hour and a half (or a day and a half) to one of them while you wait for clarification. Even so, all of my shops have been approved without issue.

I suspect the issue they had with the supplies is likely just one more symptom of the generalized chaos that seems to permeate this one. I can't tell if the client is the source of the chaos or the MSC is the source of the chaos. Effectively, it doesn't matter from my standpoint.

So no, good and trusting doesn't sound quite right and neither does declining them altogether. But I'll be watching the fees and the instructions carefully from here on out. My experience base with this company is still only a couple of projects deep, even if it is dozens and dozens of individual shops deep now. Was there a baby in the bathwater? Is it bathwater? Not sure on either count.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/11/2019 07:50AM by JustForFun.
@sandyf wrote:

Since this is a very long trip you do not want to do twice and they have offered you the choice to cancel the remaining shops with no penalty to you that sounds like a good solution to me. .

Actually, I gave my word that I'd do the shops and I will keep my word and do the shops. And I'll move other things as needed to make that second trip without an extension to the looming due date...without breaking commitments to others in the process.

I have no control over how they conduct their affairs. What my integrity requires of me however is a different story.
I think there is a chance to redo the original project. It is less money per store but still worth it. I am sure we are talking about the same project.
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