Shoppers are rated, MSC should be too!

I have been shopping for a few years. I love that I have an excellent reputation. I have been dinged a few times for a rating and it hurts.

My question, after meeting a few shoppers, and talking, I have found that MSC's should be rated as well. It is sad when there is a group of shoppers and you see they have all had the same negative experience. Service Scouts is all over on boards posting great opportunities, then to find out how they treated shoppers was appalling. Shoppers are their bread and butter, what gives? One shopper was charged back for a ticket as they had an emergency. BEWARE if you decide to take a shop. MSC Rating -3

They are on my DNS list. Do Not Shop

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The Mystery Shopping Company Discussion board is a great place to post both raves and rants. It's something of a "ratings" board.
So the MSC paid for a ticket so the shopper could do the shop and then the shopper didn't do the shop. Then the MSC, unable to see why the shopper's problem should become their problem even more than it already was, declined to eat the cost of the ticket, Am I following that right?
I am new to this forum, but not new to shopping. MSC’s do not buy the tickets for events or front money for restaurants or shops. What did the MSC lose? A shop opportunity. Reputable MSC’s offer fair pay for their shops to be completed. The shops are usually completed. Sometimes they add bonuses. There is usually an opportunity to reshop. Does that help you understand?
I am not sure about the meaning of - charged back for a ticket-

@iShop4Pay wrote:

I am new to this forum, but not new to shopping. MSC’s do not buy the tickets for events or front money for restaurants or shops. What did the MSC lose? A shop opportunity. Reputable MSC’s offer fair pay for their shops to be completed. The shops are usually completed. Sometimes they add bonuses. There is usually an opportunity to reshop. Does that help you understand?
@iShop4Pay wrote:

I am new to this forum, but not new to shopping. MSC’s do not buy the tickets for events or front money for restaurants or shops. What did the MSC lose? A shop opportunity. Reputable MSC’s offer fair pay for their shops to be completed. The shops are usually completed. Sometimes they add bonuses. There is usually an opportunity to reshop. Does that help you understand?

The MSC’s are YOUR clients. If you have a bad experience working with an MSC, don’t pick up any more work.

What do the MSC’s have to lose? THEIR client. Assuming there’s an opportunity to reshop isn’t always the case.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
What a rude reply Tarantado. I was asking if MSC’s were rated. That is called a business decision. A company that charges a shopper for something they did not supply is probably illegal. Unfortunately shoppers are not protected.
How was Tarantado being rude? He's telling the truth. Are you looking for a different answer about the tickets?

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/23/2020 01:19PM by HonnyBrown.
@iShop4Pay wrote:

No worries. I thought this was a forum of support not tear down. Fare well along the roads.

No one was rude to you although several posters disagreed with your rating and your example. You were looking for a place of unconditional support for shoppers, a place that always supports the view of the shopper, right or wrong. This is a very supportive place, but it's a business community made up primarily of shoppers, but also including schedulers, editors, and company representatives. Many of our best posters - and there are contributions from several of them on this thread - are proud of the work they do and strive for professionalism. They participate on the forum to give advice and to share information.

Your idea about rating the companies is a good one, and we welcome you to the forum, to read and to contribute if you choose. Rating companies is something that has been done for many years on this forum. If you spend a little time reading, you can see probably almost fifteen years of ratings as well as learning opportunities here on the forum. The problem was you gave a rating based on the experience of another shopper - was it something you read, someone you know, or was it actually you who had an emergency and ended up paying for the ticket? Not a good example because charging back the ticket sounds fair to me. Maybe we should also rate shoppers? I would rate the shopper who believed the company should eat the cost of the ticket because of their emergency pretty low - but that wasn't your question.

Any "ratings" should be based on first hand experience, clearly explained, and documented. When a company assigns a shopper rating they post that rating only for the shopper to read. A rating posted on an internet forum by an anonymous poster for the whole world to read isn't the same as a company rating.
@iShop4Pay wrote:

What a rude reply Tarantado. I was asking if MSC’s were rated. That is called a business decision. A company that charges a shopper for something they did not supply is probably illegal. Unfortunately shoppers are not protected.

I promise you that my response was not meant to be rude in any way.... But was meant to be objective and to inform.

I’ll try to keep this response short, as long responses tend to get overlooked for simply being too long of a read....

I understand that your thread was focused purely on rating MSC’s. Reading through your responses, I felt the need to clarify how the business works.... Why?

2 reasons:

Reason #1. The biggest reason was calling out a specific MSC like that in the OP, then stating what they had done to that shopper in your story was “probably” illegal and they had nothing to lose except for “a shop opportunity.” That is a bit misinformed and will explain.

What I read described a possible shop that involved a ticketed event where a re-shop may or may not be available.... From my experiences, with shops like that such a concert at a stadium, how is there an “opportunity to reshop” if the concert’s only at the location for possibly just one night? Regardless of the situation on the shopper you referred to in your story, if the shopper had to back out at the last minute and the MSC was not able to fill in the work with a replacement in time, the MSC doesn’t just simply say “oh well, onto the next shop!” They have THEIR work on the line for not being able to meet the work THEIR client is paying them for.

As for charging the shopper for the tickets, even though they did not attend, they likely accepted an agreement on the terms of the project that includes liability on the project in the form of being charged the tickets for the event as a repercussion when they agreed to take on the work. Assuming it was “probably illegal” is jumping to conclusions. Jumping to conclusions isn’t exactly the nicest thing to do when the story you provided isn’t exactly clear AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, you have a specific MSC called out in a derogatory way.

Reason #2. I left this out in my first response because I felt #1 above was much more important to point out to help others reading understand how the business works.... But since you’re inclined to keep the topic about rating MSC’s, I may as well provide my opinion on the topic:

I stated earlier that the MSC’s our literally OUR client as shoppers. Our customers we provide our shopping services to meet the work they need filled in. We are obviously open to our opinions (especially on this forum were most of us are pretty anonymous) and express our frustrations on MSC’s, but a rating system isn’t the way to go about it. It’s not a coincidence there’s a common belief that mystery shoppers aren’t taken seriously as professionals, because threads like this exist to further support this....

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/23/2020 01:12PM by Tarantado.
I rate every MSC I shop... mentally.

I think we all do, in our own way: We all have opinions about narratives, shopper support, pay, complexity of shops, reliability, etc. We also all value very different things from MSC's, depending on our shopping preferences and habits. A "1-10" ranking as compiled by some unknown number of random anonymous shoppers would be worthless to me. Which shoppers would participate? What would those shoppers value? Would shoppers with an ax to grind vote multiple times? Etc.

Nay, I much prefer the feedback we get here through narratives, when agreed upon by known shoppers:
--> Maritz responds really well to phone calls and are super-nice to work with. However, they don't do email particularly well. They pay very reliably, but you do have to do that silly invoice.
--> Servimer really provides great shopper support.
--> EPMS pays like clockwork. But, those narratives......
--> Cirrus has very slow pay - and can "forget" to pay shopper sometimes. However, call Monnie Howard and it will be remedied within a day.
--> You may not get rich working for Coyle, but you will have some fantastic dining experiences - if you can deal with dissertations when you write reports.

This sort of information helps me to navigate the different personalities of the various MSC's, bettering my experience with each. It also helps me to determine whether or not each company is a fit for my particular shopping needs. On the other hand, if I am thinking about shopping for a new MSC and see this:

Walesmaven's Wacky Wetail Window: 7/10 (as rated by 23 shoppers)

I have absolutely no idea whether or not I would want to work for this MSC.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
My opinions, predicated upon the OP's posts are:

1-Tarentado was concise, informative and objective, but definitely not rude.
2-The OP seems to be a tad thin skinned.
3-As self-employed contractors, the term fair, one of the most accursed in our language, does not apply. Any time a shopper determines the peaches are not to their liking, they have merely to pick from another tree or orchard.
4-When one uses another person's experience as an example, the information is being supplied second, third, fourth, etc. hand.
I don't know if the OP will be coming back, but I do personally have a rating system. I have a master list of all the companies I am signed with. Each company has a little blurb about my experience with them (if I have one) and a rating of A, B, C or F. The blurb has content such as if the scheduler is responsive with questions, if I find the guidelines understandable, if the reports are tolerable and if the pay is reasonable and on-time.

Besides my personal rating system, I will come on this forum to research a company if I haven't worked for them and if I may be interested in picking up a job. Non-responsive schedulers and businesses that routinely pay late (or even just 3 months after the job was completed) go on my 10-foot pole list.
My biggest issue is that there’s a private/secret group on the “V” forum (and on Facebook as well) that lists shoppers with comments underneath from MSPs and schedulers.

We aren’t able to put up any rebuttals to this.

It’s a rating system that is patently unfair, and could potentially be skewed by a nutso scheduler or a crooked MSP.

If I had the time, I’d look into taking Ray (owner of the “V” forum) to court over the possibility of creating damage to income. I’m too busy, but maybe someone else could.

Edit: grammar

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/23/2020 07:15PM by ColoKate63.
On one of Confero's shop reports, there's a question at the end of the report asking you to rate Confero on a scale of 1-10 and provide feedback.
The V- forum has not existed for some time, btw.

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.
I suspect the OP was "asking for a friend," and was disheartened to be basically told to take responsibility for her actions.

"Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you - and why?” ~Walter Williams
@walesmaven wrote:

The V- forum has not existed for some time, btw.

Good. It was straight out of the mid-1990s. Embarrassingly so.
@ColoKate63 wrote:

@walesmaven wrote:

The V- forum has not existed for some time, btw.

Good. It was straight out of the mid-1990s. Embarrassingly so.

Lowkey, I enjoyed the Geocities type of feel the V-forum had. The layout, retro style the forum had reminded me of my elementary school days discovering the internet for the first time in the 90's!

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
That is exactly what I am talking about! There are a few MSP’s I will not go near as well. We often risk slow pays, slow reimbursements and response. I work smart, and just as MSP’s rate us, shoppers should take warning to some as well. I was asked by a company to do something that was illegal. I am glad I did research!
@iShop4Pay wrote:

That is exactly what I am talking about! There are a few MSP’s I will not go near as well. We often risk slow pays, slow reimbursements and response. I work smart, and just as MSP’s rate us, shoppers should take warning to some as well. I was asked by a company to do something that was illegal. I am glad I did research!

Totally agree, for the following reasons:

1. There’s no central database for locating MSP information regarding slow pays, incorrect bonus amounts, unprofessional behavior, and so on. There’s information here, on a few Facebook pages, but nowhere consistent for a shopper to turn when they are trying to quickly make a decision on whether to take a shop.

2. It’s entirely possible for a 1-5 star rating system to be derived for rating MSPs.

For example, let’s take Rapidity of Pay:

Five stars: Payment within 5 business days
Four stars: Payment within 6-14 calendar days
Three stars: Payment between 15-45 calendar days
Two stars: Payment between 46-60 days
One star: 61+ days to pay
Zero stars: 90+ days for payment OR chasing payment required

The following could likewise be rated, objectively:
- Communication
- Ease of Assignment
- Amount of pay (average, below or above average)
- Ethics
- Availability of Routes for Route Shoppers
- Bonus Pay Available
- Spamming emails and phone calls

... and some others I can’t think of right now.

3. There’s too many bad MSPs out there. A bit of evolutionary pressure to reduce the “losers” is good for the industry. Let them lose accounts and then the better groups will pick them up.

Example: I personally know of a few folks who financed their MSP startups with credit cards. Zero working capital. No way to pay their ICs until client checks come through. Disastrous results.

Not everyone should be a business owner.

With some pushback from courageous shoppers, the bottom-tier MSPs will lose accounts and fold like the houses of cards that they are. Rewarding the top-tier, ethical MSPs will grow the industry in a positive direction, and benefit the ones who do the majority of the work: the shopper community.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/23/2020 10:56PM by ColoKate63.
The MSCs are rated here, just not in a formal manner. If you search for "Cirrus" or "Red Quanta," you will see issues that were common among many longtime shoppers.

If you look at the posts by new participants, you will see MSC slams because of something personal to them.

Which type of rating holds more weight?

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
Post removed
Moderator Note:

Inappropriate post removed. Name calling and personal insults are in violation of our guidelines.

If I am happy with the pay AND the schedule on which it arrives, I would not give an MSC a low rating!

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 answer the comments above:

1. This forum is not a good resource for quickly and efficiently learning whether or not a MSP should be trusted. The threads frequently devolve into irrelevant chit-chat, gossip, and off-topic remarks. As a result the user trying to get information is stymied.

Sockpuppet (fake) accounts can be quickly created to defend MSPs; there is no screening method to prevent new accounts from posting.

I looked at the threads discussing Red Quanta, Cirrus and Instant Replays. All of them contained the above-mentioned issues. It would have taken a user between 30-60 minutes to scroll through the threads and note the problems- without being misled by sockpuppets.

Something quick and efficient is absolutely necessary.

2. A pay period of 60, 90, or 120+ days is (to me) unacceptable.
I have family members who are ICs: in website development, GIS, and the legal profession.
NONE of them would ever consider contracting with corporations with those kinds of pay periods.
Stretching out IC pay to those extremes is a red flag.

3. Rating systems are widely used in the USA.

We have Glassdoor, Yelp, Google Reviews to contrast and compare consumer choices.

If the shopper has an opportunity to access a database similar to Yelp, compare the ratings, and select the best one for their needs, it can only be a good thing.

Maybe the solution is an invitation-only private board with objective ratings and zero gossip.

I belong to two private groups hosted on the Discord app. One is for landlords, the other for casino table games. They are accessible only from a private invitation link and are tightly controlled by moderators.

I’m seriously considering setting this up for shoppers to rate MSPs. It is badly needed, and could only be a good thing.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2020 02:42PM by ColoKate63.
I can usually determine what I need about an MSC from the forum. I can also learn about a particular shop from the forum. The only true objective criteria for a rating, IMHO, is length of time to pay. Other measures would be more subjective and personally biased. The 10 foot pole list posted by individual shoppers provides me significant information. The forum is a great resource, and I appreciate everything I glean from it.
The difficulties I have with these types of reviews are many:

* Yes, fake accounts can be created by retailers/MSC's/whatever to defend themselves and artificially inflate ratings. Likewise, fake accounts can be created by disgruntled folks to artificially tank ratings. We frequently see, on this board, folks who chime in to either hate on or give their love to various MSC's - but, in the process, only give half the story. ("MSC XYZ didn't pay me! They stink! BEWARE!!" We find out later that the shopper only performed half the requirements of the shop.) Without tight controls, the ratings themselves are meaningless.

* Of all the things you can "rate," many are very subjective. (We all see "professional behavior" differently, for instance.) About the only one that will not be is "How long until you are paid." Yet, a simple "1-10" doesn't tell the story, even for this. Consider: Company "A" takes two weeks to pay. Company "B" takes two months. Clearly Company "A" is better, yes? Wait, what if they basically offer the same shops (type, workload, etc.), but Company "B" offers triple the compensation? A numerical rating does not tell the story. A narrative is needed. Still, if "pay period" or "pay quantity" is the primary concern, every MSC lists this information on their job boards and shopper sites, so it is easily found before a shopper has to take any job. We don't need a ratings system for something listed publicly.

* Tight controls might prevent fake accounts. However, tight controls can often lead to very biased data. Who is in charge of the controls? Somebody has to moderate comments and eliminate the irrelevant ones? What if the person who is in control disagree's with a user's comments? This can (and does!) lead to data biases that heavily favor the administrator's individual preferences. Tight controls can also limit how much input you can have about an individual MSC. With over 200 of them out there, you need a pretty large group of shoppers giving feedback so as to have a wealth of balanced information about any one company.

All the consumer ratings systems have flaws - major ones. I find that I don't pay very much attention to their numerical scores. Rather, I read the narrative comments left by supposed users and attempt to assess their reliability. And, yes, this is time-consuming. I would suggest that if you really want reliable information on a company before shopping for them, you are going to have to do homework. I have also found that it is far more efficient to take a shop or two without doing all the research and, then, seeing how the experience goes before committing to additional work. Frankly, I have only run across two MSC's for which I have any hesitation about working. I will not sign up for one at all (Red Quanta). I will work for the other when the pay is right (i.e. high). There is very little "risk" in simply taking a job, doing it, and seeing how it goes.

All that said... I do agree that searching the form for reviews of various MSC's can be very inefficient on this board.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
MFJ,

Thanks for the well-thought out reply. We can agree to disagree.

Over time, review sites like Yelp and Glassdoor have balanced out between the fake positive reviews from owners and the fake negative reviews from competitors. They’re pretty reliable now, and a quick and simple information source.

I’m going to look into setting something up on Discord. I’ve been doing this work for a decade now, and know when I’m asking questions who to trust and who is a bootlicker and apologist for the bad MSPs. We can start there, then eventually migrate to a public site.
@ColoKate63 wrote:

and know when I’m asking questions who to trust and who is a bootlicker and apologist for the bad MSPs..

I can say, as a mathematician, this is exactly the how bias is introduced. You and I do see a lot of things differently when it comes to how MSC's operate. I believe that I am a lot more patient than you are when dealing with imperfect MSC's, for instance. This does not make either of us "right" or "wrong." We simply have different perspectives. I would also suggest that, looking at nothing more than our styles when writing on this forum, we have different approaches to communication - which will, therefore, affect how different folks in different MSC's react to us and, as a consequence, what type of experience we have with each MSC. If you are going to have any rating system with any sort of integrity, both types of inputs must be include. And, yes, you will have contradictory reviews.

I don't post this to be argumentative - only to give you a mathematician's input so as to help you to put together the best resource you can.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
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