Not allowed to visit medical office for a brochure shop, only paid $3 instead of $30

I took a shop where I was supposed to visit a local doctor's office to change some brochures. The office staff would not allow me to come in due to Covid-19 and the shop instructions said to ask them to do it themselves if possible. It took me several attempts to get in touch with the office manager, who again reiterated that I could not come to the office and was not sure about doing it themselves. Long story short, the shop got unassigned from me because I kept waiting to hear back, then took it again for $30+ and was told to submit it as not being able to do the shop. I ended up spending close to an hour on the phone trying to do the shop. For all of this, I got paid $3 because I was unable to complete the visit and that is apparently their policy, but this information was not in the shop.

Ironically, had I ignored the employee's instructions not to come in and showed up on my own (I was right near the office one day), they would likely have been upset with the client, but I would have been paid $10 since that is their policy if the shopper goes to the location but is unable to complete the assignment. And I wasted more time trying to contact the office than I would have spent had I been able to do the assignment.

Just a warning for anyone thinking of taking one of these shops that requires you to visit a doctor's office, ask what the payment will be when you are not allowed access before wasting your time on the assignment. I'm guessing that the majority of doctors offices are not allowing people to come in to do these shops.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/04/2021 05:53PM by MisterBill.

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You are correct that doctors' offices are limiting access. My doc is normally more than happy to visit with the pharma reps because they keep his samples closet filled and keep him in the most recent iPads. At this point the sign on the door indicates that pharma reps will be welcome only on Friday afternoon and there is a sign saying 'Patients Only'. Last time I was there they allowed a caregiver to stay with the patient but otherwise had kids, relatives et al wait outside.

These shops were always time consuming because I always had to wait around until an exam room was vacated to go fill the brochure rack and get back to the waiting room until the next exam room was vacated. It was not unusual to be in a large practice for a couple of hours, which made the fee uninteresting.
Yes to all of the above. I finally cracked the code: do the assignments that have one or two rooms per base pay of $10. If you complete enough assignments, these become efficient as fillers, your wait times should always be shorter, and you receive more money from more base pay even though the room fee does not change. That is, if ever we are permitted to visit the offices as vendors, this is how I would work those gigs. I think it is best for staff to complete that task because it is easier for them to find little moments of time in their work days than it is for them to accommodate our presence in their workplaces.

Things are not to be judged good or bad merely because the public think so. - Tacitus
@Shop-et-al wrote:

I think it is best for staff to complete that task because it is easier for them to find little moments of time in their work days than it is for them to accommodate our presence in their workplaces.
This is what really bothered me about this situation. I wrote to the scheduler and said that they would not let me in, and she told me to check the guidelines because there was an option to have them do the change out themselves. But in that case, I was still only going to get $3. So basically she should have told me to submit it that way and not waste any more of my time on it. The company who sends out the brochures should have one of their own employees call those offices on their own dime. Telling me to do more work and then not pay me for anything beyond the first call is just ridiculous.

I had not taken this shop until it hit $34, then after they unassigned it they reposted it at $39 and I took it again. I figured the worst case I'd get half price.

And I just checked the guidelines and there is nothing that says that you will be paid a reduced fee if you are unable to complete the visit.
The reduced pay clause might be in the ICA or general contract that you've agreed to (just guessing).

sestrahelena
@sestrahelena wrote:

The reduced pay clause might be in the ICA or general contract that you've agreed to (just guessing).
The scheduler sent me a copy of the terms for the shop which say that you will be paid a reduced rate, but it does not say what that rate is. Anyway, I am done with them, this company isn't doing mystery shops anymore, anyway.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/05/2021 06:57PM by MisterBill.
MisterBill,

Where did you hear they aren't doing mystery shops anymore?

I used to do a lot of shops at the local Indian casino pre-Covid. I wonder if some other MSC will pick them up if indeed this MSC is not doing them anymore.
This MSC is certainly doing merchandising and other revealed assignments, and in fact just sent me multiple assignment offers this afternoon. Their current lack of non-revealed mystery shops is surely a matter of current client needs, not some permanent policy moving forward.
@NinS wrote:

This MSC is certainly doing merchandising and other revealed assignments, and in fact just sent me multiple assignment offers this afternoon. Their current lack of non-revealed mystery shops is surely a matter of current client needs, not some permanent policy moving forward.
When I checked their website recently (the piece that is for prospective clients), I only saw merchandising and similar projects listed, not mystery shopping.
Yeah, it's not good that these assignments don't list what the reduced rate will be. Definitely no excuse for that.

That said, if you had reviewed the assignment in the app, you'd have seen the option to indicate that you made an appointment and were denied access at the time of the visit. You also don't have to do more than make three phone calls to try to make an appointment OR you reach someone and they decline. There's no reason to do more than that, but I can understand why that also isn't 100% clear.

These jobs are a lot easier than I thought they would be. Making the appointment is the hardest part. Can't make a real route out of them.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2021 05:03AM by 1cent.
@1cent wrote:

That said, if you had reviewed the assignment in the app, you'd have seen the option to indicate that you made an appointment and were denied access at the time of the visit. You also don't have to do more than make three phone calls to try to make an appointment OR you reach someone and they decline. There's no reason to do more than that, but I can understand why that also isn't 100% clear.
I was told on my first call that I would not be allowed in and told the scheduler. She told me to look at the guidelines and call back and see if I could convince them to do it themselves. I called back and was told that I needed to speak to the office manager, and it took several calls to get in touch with him. The previous visit attempt from two or three months earlier had also been told that they could not visit, so to be honest they never should have assigned this again. And I definitely should have stopped after that first call, submitted it and been done with it. Then the $3 payment would not have stung so much.

Anyway, I am done. Hopefully I have warned a few people not to deal with these assignments.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2021 05:41AM by MisterBill.
It’s all in the instructions. The scheduler should have just confirmed that you did ask them to update the display. It’s hard to do much persuasion or get a 100% commitment under the circumstances. Extra effort won’t always get better results.
@MisterBill wrote:

Hopefully I have warned a few people not to deal with these assignments.

This is weird to me. It’s very helpful to share experiences but this isn’t exactly a job to avoid. More like “proceed with caution,” no? Your assignment could have been super easy.

$3 is always disappointing but it’s not the worst for making a quick phone call.
@1cent wrote:

@MisterBill wrote:

Hopefully I have warned a few people not to deal with these assignments.

This is weird to me. It’s very helpful to share experiences but this isn’t exactly a job to avoid. More like “proceed with caution,” no? Your assignment could have been super easy.

$3 is always disappointing but it’s not the worst for making a quick phone call.
Yes, I guess I should say to warn people not to make more than one call if it's evident that they will not let you go.

Should also say that I do not take $3 phone call shops.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2021 07:28AM by MisterBill.
once i get the vaccine, i’ll definitely be doing these again. sorry you were turned down. i can totally see that happening now, which is one of the reasons i’m staying away. you can’t expect the MSC to pay for incomplete work unless you clarify it with them before getting assigned the shop that they need to pay you full if a possible incompletion is out of your hands.
by the way, the phone calls are a lot more productive when you don’t ask to speak to the office manager. there are normally other people there who have some say. it can be a real hassle sometimes to get a hold of the elusive manager.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2021 02:34PM by jay225.
@jay225 wrote:

by the way, the phone calls are a lot more productive when you don’t ask to speak to the office manager. there are normally other people there who have some say. it can be a real hassle sometimes to get a hold of the elusive manager.
I did not ask to speak to the manager originally. It was only when I asked if they could do it themselves that I was told that I needed to speak to him. The only other person who could have allowed me in was the doctor, who had told the staff that no outsiders were allowed (although I'm sure that was from above since it's part of a very large medical group).

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2021 05:08PM by MisterBill.
@MisterBill wrote:

@jay225 wrote:

by the way, the phone calls are a lot more productive when you don’t ask to speak to the office manager. there are normally other people there who have some say. it can be a real hassle sometimes to get a hold of the elusive manager.
I did not ask to speak to the manager originally. It was only when I asked if they could do it themselves that I was told that I needed to speak to him. The only other person who could have allowed me in was the doctor, who had told the staff that no outsiders were allowed (although I'm sure that was from above since it's part of a very large medical group).

i mean i don’t even know if we’d be considered outsiders. it literally says on the boxes they receive to hold for a patient point rep. i guess it’s case by case depending on the personalities of the people at the practice.
@MisterBill wrote:

@1cent wrote:

@MisterBill wrote:

Hopefully I have warned a few people not to deal with these assignments.

This is weird to me. It’s very helpful to share experiences but this isn’t exactly a job to avoid. More like “proceed with caution,” no? Your assignment could have been super easy.

$3 is always disappointing but it’s not the worst for making a quick phone call.
Yes, I guess I should say to warn people not to make more than one call if it's evident that they will not let you go.

Should also say that I do not take $3 phone call shops.

You are supposed to make THREE attempts and then submit if you don't reach anyone or no one returns your calls. If you make ONE attempt and are told that you will not be allowed to visit the office then you don't call again and go ahead and submit your report. With the last round, you are NOT supposed to just show up if you are in the area. You need to be familiar with the current guidelines since everything is in flux these days.
@LuvsTraveling wrote:

You are supposed to make THREE attempts and then submit if you don't reach anyone or no one returns your calls. If you make ONE attempt and are told that you will not be allowed to visit the office then you don't call again and go ahead and submit your report. With the last round, you are NOT supposed to just show up if you are in the area. You need to be familiar with the current guidelines since everything is in flux these days.
I did get in touch with someone on my first call, and they told me that I could not visit. The scheduler told me to call back and try to get them to do it themselves, which resulted in several calls trying to get in touch with the office manager, who once again told me that I could not come in.

I only mentioned going in person because that way I would have received $10 instead of the $3.
@MisterBill wrote:

I only mentioned going in person because that way I would have received $10 instead of the $3.
But that would be dishonest since the guidelines clearly stated that you could not show up at the office without having an actual appointment. I did double-digit offices during the last round and only a handful would not allow me to schedule an appointment at all. Making a couple of quick phone calls from the comfort of your house with no gas or car expenses... I really don't understand what the problem is.
@LuvsTraveling wrote:

@MisterBill wrote:

I only mentioned going in person because that way I would have received $10 instead of the $3.
But that would be dishonest since the guidelines clearly stated that you could not show up at the office without having an actual appointment. I did double-digit offices during the last round and only a handful would not allow me to schedule an appointment at all. Making a couple of quick phone calls from the comfort of your house with no gas or car expenses... I really don't understand what the problem is.
The problem is that it took me four attempts to get in touch with the office manager (after my initial call when they told me I could not visit), then spent 20 minutes on the phone with him trying to convince him to do the switch himself. Had I realized that my total payment was going to be $3 I would not have put any effort info it beyond the first call once I realized that I wasn't going to be paid for the additional effort, and certainly not made multiple attempts to contact the office manager.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2021 03:58PM by MisterBill.
The thing to learn here is just to follow the guidelines and some common best practices. You described the job being unassigned while you waited to hear back. So you never told the scheduler you needed an extension? Or communicated difficulties ahead of the deadline? Come on.

On these assignments, if you start making calls early in the assignment period and follow the guidelines, you submit the response and that's that. I totally understand that it is confusing. I don't know why the scheduler would ask you to "convince" the office manager to do the setup. All we can ever do is ask, explain how easy it is, and direct their attention to the confirmation sheet.

If I worked in an office and someone called out of the blue to hassle me to do something, I'd tell them, "Yeah, sure," and then not do it. It's actually more persuasive to let them decide. I would say something like, "I understand that your safety protocols don't allow me to come do this for you. It's actually very easy to set up yourself, there are instructions in the box, and a confirmation sheet you can send to the company."

I was surprised to get some appointments for a visit after I just acknowledged that these folks are working so hard. They appreciate a calm, helpful voice even if you're not able to fix what's actually frustrating them. These assignments can be hugely gratifying in that way. I am sorry you didn't get that experience. I think these come around quarterly. It's very possible that some stressors will ease up during the next three months.
Yes. These are quarterly shops.

Usually, I can get in and do the work. Once, this was not possible. I believe that this office should do the work based on their situation.

This is a constantly busy urgent care center that also provides some routine services for its patients. In addition to covid, there are certain times of the year when they are especially busy with that work. I have observed them. They are wonderful! But they are also tasked with near-constant extra work, such as cleaning between constantly needed exam rooms. And, I remember how it feels to have strep, or a possibly broken finger, or something. If I were their patient, I would not want to wait any longer than absolutely necessary. My presence in the rooms between patients does cause a delay of a few minutes. When you don't feel well or something hurts, you don't want to wait even one extra minute. I felt good about not creating additional delays for patients, even as I might have forfeited some anticipated pay.

Things are not to be judged good or bad merely because the public think so. - Tacitus
i enjoyed doing these shops when they had nice bonuses earlier in 2020 (even with covid happening; wore a good mask and thoroughly washed and sanitized hands), however my applications were never selected when applying for the later fall/winter rounds.

i ran into one office that was closed, the doctor had retired - the $30 bonus’d fee was dropped to a $5(?) payment. it was kind of disappointing, but oh well - the other bonus’d shops made up for it.

i do think that doctors offices would appreciate the same person coming every time when these items need to be swapped out. multiple offices mentioned to me, “what happened to {other person} that used to do these? they were so nice”.

if shoppers were able to get first dibs on offices they had completed in the past as to build a rapport with an office, the company doing these replenishments might get a better response/completion rate?
@charleybuddy wrote:

if shoppers were able to get first dibs on offices they had completed in the past as to build a rapport with an office, the company doing these replenishments might get a better response/completion rate?
THEY DO! I am one of those people.
@LuvsTraveling wrote:

THEY DO! I am one of those people.

interesting! after successfully completing a bunch, i even suggested to the scheduler in a recap email that for a couple of the offices that would have needed a re-visit (not enough materials sent, broken plastic covers, missing ad panels etc.) that i would be interested in doing the follow up visits.

he kind of sidestepped around that, and thanked me for being part of the project.

later in 2020 when the re-visits were being scheduled i never heard back from him when the follow up visits for the same locations were put on the board. strange.

oh well, what can you do. thanks for letting me know though!

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/2021 05:25PM by charleybuddy.
@charleybuddy wrote:

@LuvsTraveling wrote:

THEY DO! I am one of those people.

interesting! after successfully completing a bunch, i even suggested to the scheduler in a recap email that for a couple of the offices that would have needed a re-visit (not enough materials sent, broken plastic covers, missing ad panels etc.) that i would be interested in doing the follow up visits.

he kind of sidestepped around that, and thanked me for being part of the project.

later in 2020 when the re-visits were being scheduled i never heard back from him when the follow up visits for the same locations were put on the board. strange.
Maybe you rocked the boat too much or maybe there were complaints from the office staff about you or your work. And a re-visit is totally different than a new round of locations months later.

From reading your posts in this thread, I think you might need to hone your skills a bit more. I have proven myself after years of hard work, flexibility and good communication with my project managers.

And nothing in 2020 was normal. Many of the MSC employees who were there pre-pandemic are no longer there. The post-lockdown newbies might still be learning the ropes.
BTW one thing that I did not mention was that the previous attempt to visit this location also resulted in not being able to visit due to Covid restrictions (based on the info in the assignment in the app), so I didn't even understand why they thought they could get someone to go this time.
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