Shoppers are rated, MSC should be too!

@MFJohnston wrote:

@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...

Agreed.

1. I use strong language like “bootlicker” to describe some of the behavior I see here. To me, it captures the servile, cringing attitude of some posters when discussing issues like 90+ day pay cycles.

2. After a decade doing this work (beginning when I was a Chemistry teacher) - I’ve been treated VERY well on projects. I have twice been loaned a $135,000 sports car for a five month project, and received payment in advance weekly for said project. I’ve received payment for video shops within 72 hours. On routes, I get expedited payment.


3. There are some ethical, professional MSPs out there, and I’d like to put some evolutionary pressure on the “bad apples” in order to favor the good ones. I won’t cry any tears when a couple of the lousy ones fold.

4. Twice in the last year, I’ve received a “help me!” text from a fellow video shopper who, through bad luck and no fault of their own, needed an emergency cash infusion. Both were on routes for the same company. I sent the money so that they continue their routes, was repaid within 48h, but... this is awful. Literally sleeping in the car because the pay cycles are so long and you’re like a hamster in a wheel, frantically trying to keep your route going?

That’s B.S. - when a route shopper can’t get an advance from ownership and has to reach out to another shopper so they can get a tank of gas, or a cheap hotel room.

5. I’ve accidentally been CC’d several times over the last decade with: (1) my finished, edited product, (2) scoring sheets and spreadsheets with shop results, and (3) fee sheets and invoices showing me what the profit margins are for these MSPs. On average, the MSPs are collecting between 75-85 percent of the fees for work done.

Doing the math, at 85%, that shopper’s work for a $45 retail shop is being billed at $300 by the MSP. I’ve seen the invoices. That’s no B.S.

And the finished product sent to the client did NOT have $255 worth of editing, scoring and value added.

I get mad about these inequalities, and it’s because I’ve seen “the other side” of what GOOD companies do and how they value their ICs.

In my ideal world, there’d be 50-100, not 200, MSPs. All sufficiently capitalized so that they could pay their ICs in 30 days or less. Not everyone who has $15K on a credit card or a daddy to buy them a business should be doing this.

Edited a few times, because I had a lot to get off my chest.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2020 05:37PM by ColoKate63.

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Evidently, whoever even most slightly disagrees with a certain poster is a "bootlicker and apologist".

I just don't work for any of the companies that don't meet my requirements as to amount of pay or rapidity of payment.

I do not insult shoppers who continue to shop for those companies.

I do not insult other shoppers on the forum. Well, maybe inadvertently and only occasionally.
@ceasesmith wrote:

Evidently, whoever even most slightly disagrees with a certain poster is a "bootlicker and apologist".

I just don't work for any of the companies that don't meet my requirements as to amount of pay or rapidity of payment.

I do not insult shoppers who continue to shop for those companies.

I do not insult other shoppers on the forum. Well, maybe inadvertently and only occasionally.

Strangely enough, MFJ and I are having a civil disagreement; we are at 180 degrees regarding our opinions, but have I insulted him, or the reverse? No.

Re: “bootlicking” - I’d refer you to the Instant Replays threads, or the Cirrus threads. Or Red Quanta. Therein you can find multiple posters vigorously defending the “bad apple” MSPs, and attacking the posters with the negative information.

It’s servile, cringe-worthy behavior, and in my opinion it just benefits the bad MSPs, who continue to grab new victims for their scams.
Reading 60 minutes of a thread (that's a gross exaggeration) may give you insight into not only the company the thread is about, but other tips as well. It's generally worth the time, but you'll learn quickly which posters aren't. If you don't want to put in the time, the "Who's your favorite MSC?" thread will do much of the work for you.

“I am convinced that knowledge is power - to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.” ~Ben Carson
Katie

As I have probably fired more MSC's than must shoppers, at least 10, and I do not post under a shroud of anonymity, I am Bob Engleman, any company advancing money to people with whom they have never met and could be 1000's of miles away, should have their operating officers quickly removed by the shareholders. Such an action would be tantamount to walking on hot embers. In addition, it is an absolute responsibility of corporate directors to extract as much work for the slightest money possible from INDEPENDENT CONTRATORS. It is a shopper's decision to not work if the conditions are unacceptable. I have only completed eight jobs this month because the overwhelming number of assignments had a poor work:reward ratio to me, but another person did not agree or was in need. That IS business.
Some thoughts on each of your points.

#1: I don't find such strong language conducive to anything productive. I look at the longer pay cycle as a negative, but if that's how and MSC wishes/chooses/needs to operate, so be it. It's my choice whether or not to accept such terms. My personal response: "If you want to take that long to pay, I expect the pay to be increased for the job to have value for me."

#2 I do not believe it is the MSC's responsibility to forward payment, expedite pay, or loan high end vehicles to me. I do however see such things as ways to entice shoppers to tackled shops/projects/routes that they would otherwise be unwilling or unable to do. Yes, this would be considered "treating a shopper very well." As IC's, we cannot expect such treatment.

#3 I generally do not classify MSC's as "good" or "bad." They all have their strong and weak points. It's a matter of matching my needs and preferences with what each MSC has to offer. I have found that the vast majority of MSC's are run by good, honest folks. Some are more organized than others. Some are more professional than others. And, yes, there are some folks that should not be involved in mystery shopping at all. But, then again, we can say that about any group of folks.

#4 I see this differently than you do. While, I might just help out a friend, I do not see it as the MSC's responsibility to pre-fund routes. As an IC, I consider it my responsibility to be able to financially support any work to which I commit. I do not go out-of-town unless I can afford food, lodging, gas and a reasonable number of unexpected expenses (i.e. car dies) while on the road. I plan for longer pay cycles and make sure that money is in my accounts before I undertake my work. I view this as being a responsible business owner. Of course, if an MSC wishes to forward funds to a trusted shopper to complete work, I certainly would give the MSC kudos for that. Such an act would be a negotiating chip so as to get a preferred shopper onto a route with difficult-to-fill shops.

#5 I do not hold anything against an MSC if they are able to negotiate a healthy profit margin. They are in business to make money - as am I. I do not work for compensation that does not suit me. If the MSC is willing to pay it, we strike a deal. If not, I'm good with that. This business is pretty darn close to a free-market system, so each of us, as our own business entities, is responsible to watch our own bottom line. We take the work that meets our requirements and ignore the work that does not. We are free to negotiate fees and MSC's are free to accept or reject our offers. Some folks are happy to work for less compensation than I will accept. If it meets their needs and they are satisfied, so be it.

Not numbered, but addressing how businesses are formed.... For the most part, as shoppers, we don't see the business plans or finances for the MSC's for which we work, so I find that worrying about this is not a good use of time for me. If am MSC pays me in accordance with their agreement, I could care less how they otherwise run their finances. I have yet to be stiffed by any company - though, yes, I have chased payment a few times.


@ColoKate63 wrote:

Agreed.

1. I use strong language like “bootlicker” to describe some of the behavior I see here. To me, it captures the servile, cringing attitude of some posters when discussing issues like 90+ day pay cycles.

2. After a decade doing this work (beginning when I was a Chemistry teacher) - I’ve been treated VERY well on projects. I have twice been loaned a $135,000 sports car for a five month project, and received payment in advance weekly for said project. I’ve received payment for video shops within 72 hours. On routes, I get expedited payment.


3. There are some ethical, professional MSPs out there, and I’d like to put some evolutionary pressure on the “bad apples” in order to favor the good ones. I won’t cry any tears when a couple of the lousy ones fold.

4. Twice in the last year, I’ve received a “help me!” text from a fellow video shopper who, through bad luck and no fault of their own, needed an emergency cash infusion. Both were on routes for the same company. I sent the money so that they continue their routes, was repaid within 48h, but... this is awful. Literally sleeping in the car because the pay cycles are so long and you’re like a hamster in a wheel, frantically trying to keep your route going?

That’s B.S. - when a route shopper can’t get an advance from ownership and has to reach out to another shopper so they can get a tank of gas, or a cheap hotel room.

5. I’ve accidentally been CC’d several times over the last decade with: (1) my finished, edited product, (2) scoring sheets and spreadsheets with shop results, and (3) fee sheets and invoices showing me what the profit margins are for these MSPs. On average, the MSPs are collecting between 75-85 percent of the fees for work done.

Doing the math, at 85%, that shopper’s work for a $45 retail shop is being billed at $300 by the MSP. I’ve seen the invoices. That’s no B.S.

And the finished product sent to the client did NOT have $255 worth of editing, scoring and value added.

I get mad about these inequalities, and it’s because I’ve seen “the other side” of what GOOD companies do and how they value their ICs.

In my ideal world, there’d be 50-100, not 200, MSPs. All sufficiently capitalized so that they could pay their ICs in 30 days or less. Not everyone who has $15K on a credit card or a daddy to buy them a business should be doing this.

Edited a few times, because I had a lot to get off my chest.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I don't rate any of the shops I do, I shop only with the companies who treat me the way I treat them. I am an independent contractor, make my own choices. I get paid very well with bonuses and the type of work I perform, doesn't matter to me when I get paid, as long as I get paid. The MSC can run their business anyway they want. I owned a business for 25 years, some employees complained about their bonuses, which I did not have to provide. I based my bonuses on the amount of work that was turned into me. I ran a wholesale, retail business in Faneuil Hall Mkt. Pl. and several malls.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2020 08:14PM by shopper8.
@shopperbob wrote:

... any company advancing money to people with whom they have never met and could be 1000's of miles away, should have their operating officers quickly removed by the shareholders. Such an action would be tantamount to walking on hot embers. .....

I totally agree with your post. I would clarify that, if an MSC does have a strong working relationship with a particular shopper, the advance might make business sense if shops just needed to get done.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
... so sending out a video shopper on a route for Q1 2020 without paying them for Q4 2019, with the threat of removing their other 2020 work, is OK, because “it’s business?”

... so taking 85% of shop fees in return for some low-effort scoring/editing of the IC’s work is OK, because “it’s business?”

By your metric, then, the quadrupling of insulin prices by Big Pharma is OK, because “it’s business.” The Enron, Wells Fargo, Union Carbide/Bhopal scandals... “just business.” All the crappy things that people do in the name of money can be excused, then.

Yes?

Well, shoot, then.

I should be putting up a website, getting a LLC, and start getting some clients.

Now that I know the pricing for my type of work, what the finished product looks like, the scoring sheets and such - well, nothing is stopping me from hanging out my own shingle, is it? I have multiple income streams and am part of a two-income household.

I will probably begin by charging half of what the 85% takers are, making more money while producing better product and treating my ICs like the actual human beings they are.

Bootlickers need not apply. I want to have colleagues who are intelligent, hard working and able to take/give constructive criticism.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2020 08:35PM by ColoKate63.
MSC's do not **send** me anywhere. I work where I choose to work and when I choose to work. If I don't have the finances to take on specific shops/routes, I don't take them. As the owner of my own business, I have to be responsible for my own actions. It is not up to the MSC to care for me - I am *not* their employee. If I am not happy with their pay period, I don't accept the work. Period.

Profit Margin: That's their business. If I'm happy with my compensation, why should I whine about theirs? This is a capitalist endeavor, not a socialist enterprise. If I want a bigger piece of the pie, I negotiate. If I am not happy with the terms, the MSC can finds somebody else.

Your Big Bank and Big Pharma comparisons are not appropriate parallels. We do not have a pure free-market economy (though mystery shopping is pretty close). Rather we have all sorts of regulations. When business (i.e. Enron) violates those regulations, a price is paid in accordance with the law. Most of us would agree that health care is a political subject that puts it into a totally different category in terms of regulations, oversight, etc. than mystery shopping.

AND....
*** I don't lick anybody's boots.***

@ColoKate63 wrote:

... so sending out a video shopper on... need not apply.

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


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2020 08:42PM by MFJohnston.
@ColoKate63 wrote:

@ceasesmith wrote:

WOW.

Care to elaborate?

I would LOVE to elaborate.

However, the language I would employ would not be suitable for this forum.
@ceasesmith wrote:

@ColoKate63 wrote:

@ceasesmith wrote:

WOW.

Care to elaborate?

I would LOVE to elaborate.

However, the language I would employ would not be suitable for this forum.

Relax. It’s “just business,” lolol
There are a lot of comments regarding what I see as the basic point, rating MSC's based on multiple criteria.

One criteria needs to be eliminated, time it takes to pay. I believe that in every contract we sign with an MSC, it tells us how long they will take to pay. At one point, someone distributed an excel spreadsheet with how long it takes to pay and what type of pay (check, paypal, etc) the MSC used.
Next, a lot of the other criteria could be considered "dubious" for the simple fact that schedulers change. Rating an MSC bad at communication is unfair when it was one scheduler among many. Spamming emails is within the control of the shopper in their profile. The list can go on.
Reading the forum can give you a general idea of an MSC. Yes it can take awhile, but their are tricks. One trick I learned was to pair up with a long time experience shopper who's views aligned with mine. They can usually give me good dog food smiling smiley. But best of all, I found my gut feel to be best. I keep record of DNT (do not touch with 10 foot pole). It can be for any reason that "I" deem important and I review it every so often, because it can change. Hope this post helps!

LET ME BROADCAST THIS! Life is good. I did not say it was "perfect", but it is good. Perfect leaves me something more to strive for while enjoying where I am smiling smiley
katie,

In that I have no manner by which to discern to whom you have directed your comments, I will reply with my opinion.

Katie inquires--so sending out a video shopper on a route for Q1 2020 without paying them for Q4 2019, with the threat of removing their other 2020 work, is OK, because “it’s business?”

Bob opines--As Independent contractors, no MSC sends anyone anywhere; they apply for and elect to complete the work.

Katie also asks--so taking 85% of shop fees in return for some low-effort scoring/editing of the IC’s work is OK, because “it’s business

Bob replies--Yes. As long as I receive my minimum, what an MSC nets is none of my concern.

Katie ends with the following--By your metric, then, the quadrupling of insulin prices by Big Pharma is OK, because “it’s business.” The Enron, Wells Fargo, Union Carbide/Bhopal scandals... “just business.” All the crappy things that people do in the name of money can be excused, then.

Bob concludes--ABSOLUTELY NOT. Insulin, is a necessity of life for many people and Pharma has an obligation to provide to all. Viagra is not a life necessity. As such, let them charge $1000 a pill; that IS business. Enron was a pack of thieves, Wells Fargo preyed upon human weaknesses and Union Carbide was gross corporate greed and an atrocity unparelleled in industrial history. To compare the aforementioned, though, to being a self-employed independent contractor is illogical.

You see the situation your way and I do mine; that is what flavors an intelligent discourse.
Please be sure to add a permanent sig line with contact info so forum members know that you are an MSC manager.

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.
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