BARE Associates International - Great Company

So many of our posts deal with problems and issues. I want to share positive feedback on BARE. They were one of the first companies I signed up with to do mystery shops. What I appreciate is a good variety of assignments, very fair fees and reimbursement, payments on time per their commitment, and actual feedback and ratings once the assignments are completed. Finally, I did have one payment error. I sent them the information about the error and was paid the balance in a timely manner. I have also discovered they actively monitor their Facebook page if you have general comments or questions. From my experiences, BARE is a top notch company.

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And this is, of course, what makes forums quite interesting. While I suggest Bare to beginning shoppers because they have shops all over the company, overall I am generally not that excited to work for them. I have probably had about the same number of "issues" with them as I have had "wow"s. They would not land in my 'top 10' companies to work with, though they do have a couple of shops I like to do. They have been slow to pay because they took several weeks to edit a report, I have found them sometimes arbitrary. Overall I have always been paid and overall my work has been well received by them. So in my list they are 'ok' but not 'top notch' and definitely not 'great'. Different strokes for different folks.
I was their #1 fan for a few years, no longer. I lost them during their besiege of post office jobs and I had one problem to which they were snotty and not helpful. They do not have much in my area any longer, and on a scale of 1 to 10, I give them a 7. Things do change with MSC's, they lose clients, do not appreciate the work shoppers did in the past, and, drop down on your list, to be replaced by another.....

Live consciously....
Irene - Isn't it surprising how just one unkind/unhelpful/etc. experience can sour our relationship with an MSC? I wonder if MSCs very often take a critical, objective look at their own employees -- the face of the company those employees represent when interacting with us shoppers. I find it rather ironic that we shoppers are highly focused on assessing customer service when, as is the case with that occasional "sour apple" in the bunch of MSC employees, customer service is a quality not always well-modeled by some MSCs. Perhaps we should occasionally be contracted to shop MSC employees?!

Did I mention it's been a rough week ... ? tongue sticking out smiley

p.s. This is a general comment and has nothing to do with BARE.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/01/2011 04:46PM by PizzaPizza.
My experience with Bare has been positive, but never enough for them to make my top ten. The scheduler's I've dealt with, particularly one with the motorcycle shops and another with car washes, have been great. Overall though the pay is below average for the amount of work required.

About the only thing I still do are the car wash jobs because I love having a clean car and it is a place I will go to on my own. The washes are expensive, but worth every penny. In addition to full reimbursement for either a $15 or $20 wash there is a $5 fee for writing the report. It's rare for me to take jobs based on reimbursement and find most of them involve buying something I would not normally use making them only worth the fee. This is a rare exception.

When they were pounding us with e-mails regarding the shipping jobs I actually turned off e-mail notifications. Since that has calmed down in my area I've opted back in and just delete those.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
I have done a lot of shops for Bare and have had no problems what so ever. I can call the scheduler if necessary and she will help out if it is possible.
All of which supports my point--Different strokes for different folks. I don't know of anyone who has had a horrible experience with them. Mostly it is mediocre to good. We pick our shops. They are not like a couple of companies I work with that if they called and asked, "Can you do a shop Tuesday morning at 9AM?" I would only check my calendar and give them a yes or no, not ask details of where/what and how much first.
They have never had car washes here, and aside from one negative experience, they just don't have the shops anymore. I used to do their work with no need to ask questions. I think things just change, while they have no good jobs, I seek others and forget about them as a main stay. Maybe after awhile, we both tire of each other, and it becomes time to move on...5 years with them was a good run.

Live consciously....
Bare was my first, so there's a soft spot and affection. They don't have a bunch here. Another MSP has the car washes. Motorcycle shops I don't see anymore. But, if Bare was in a bind, and called me, I'd oblige.
Bare's been a regular for me since 2008. I have had good experiences with all the schedulers. I've done retail and shipping shops for them as well as some video. They pay when they say they will. I like them!
Agree and they are international so imagine how much they have to deal w/ I am concerned about PO shops and will start a new thread to not violate the forum rules.
You already did by naming the client. Please edit your post...

Shopping Bama and parts of Georgia.
I'm still learning 24/7.
I want to mystery shop but don't have money to put out right now to wait for reimbursements later. Which types of shop don't normally require purchases?
Bank shops and phone shops generally have no out of pocket expense. But I would encourage you to take a wider perspective. Whether you are out of work or not you still need to buy gas, buy groceries and get oil changes to keep your car healthy. So do the shops that offer reimbursements for these items as you would be out of pocket for them in 'real life' anyway. Then when the reimbursements come in, begin building a 'shop kitty' of funds that can be used to invest in less essential reimbursements on shops.
Edited: I just wanted to say that the Bare shop that was questioned was totally my fault. Despite that, the team I worked with (my scheduler and his "boss"winking smiley were amazing to work with. I actually completed the shop and got paid for all of it to boot. Bare is a great company to work with. I've recently completed over 40 shops for them, have done favors for them to complete work in my area, and would definitely, definitely recommend them. =)

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12/11/2011 08:20PM by jentodd.
OK, pretty easy to figure out which shops you're talking about :-)

First off I never worry about a 9. To me, a 9 is a 10, and you'll rack up enough 10s that the 9 won't make a difference :-)

I note you did 5 shops. Just an FYI, 4 per day is the limit. Says it in the guidelines but you won't NOT be scheduled, at least that's my experience. I made that booboo once and noticed all but the 5th shop had been scored. I didn't know if that was why so I just emailed and threw myself at the mercy of the court. No email response but suddenly the 5th report was scored.

Next up is the changing number of employees available. Read the guidelines carefully, they tell you exactly how to deal with changing situations like that.

If there was a couple in front of me one of them is closer. I would choose that one then note somewhere in the narrative that it was a couple but when I got in line that one was directly in front of me.

These reports are some of the easiest I've encountered, but that comes with having done a few. Rack up some experience in them and you get an idea of what you need to look for. I strongly suggest getting a digital voice recorder and a mic. I put the mic on the back of my shirt near the collar and it picks up my voice very easily, so I can make notes of what I'm looking at and also record what the employee is saying so I don't have to remember. For restaurants I'll say things like "Tables and chairs clean, floors clean, ceiling tiles clean" etc. I use this for times as well - whenever I start a new recording I state where I'm going and look at my cell phone and call out the exact time down to the second. When I"m on any timed shop I say under my breath "Walking in now", "In line", "Walking out now", and certain other time cues (when I'm called to a register, order total, order served) usually announce themselves and again if they don't I'll make a little under my breath note.

So again the reports are straightforward but like anything else daunting when it's new to you. My advice is that if anything happens that falls outside the bounds of the report's pat answers you should provide voluminous notes documenting it up front.

Sounds like you have a pretty good handle overall and can write intelligently and think logically. You're already ahead of the game in that respect :-) Good luck!
Good suggestions from Raisitup. What I would add is that for future reference if a shop is questioned, I usually will have something 'unique' noted about a particular store experience to refresh my memory since we do so many shops at the same or similar locations. I find if I note what I asked (unless I was asking the same thing everywhere that day), that may help me visualize the entire visit. Or a particular display or employee or situation may respark a visualization. It is unfair to ask non-survey questions a month later, though it happens. Often with a couple of cues you can replay the visit in your head if you allow it to flow.

And of course the best you can do when a shop is questioned is to answer, "What I observed was . . ."

I do agree with Raisitup that it sounds like you have a pretty good handle overall on this. Don't panic.
To Raisitup. I don't understand why they are questionning you. Do they have you on videotape so that is why they are questioning you? Sometimes I wonder if these companies have surveillance tapes and they are watching them to verify our existence, then why do they need mystery shoppers???

Do you save a copy of your report before you submit it? I always save a pdf of my report before submitting as reading through it will often help jog my memory about the shop specifics. I wish they would get back to us sooner with follow-up questions, but unfortunately that often is not the case.

I would assume that they are disputing because of a report that the time was too long. They are then looking at the number of registers that were supposedly open at that time. All that other info with help to verify if they are looking for you on the video tape.
I have done dozens upon dozens of these shops and I've never once been questioned about info that I gave. I guess I'm just really surprised to hear that! One thing that I do when doing 4 in a day is to have a spreadsheet on a clipboard in my car. As soon as I get back in, I jot down everything on there, including exactly what the clerk said when I set my package on the counter, etc. I find that if I record all the details right after they happened, it makes everything so much easier, and then if I'm ever questioned, it's all right there. However, I learned a painful lesson this past week when I arrived home and did the full report minus what comes from the receipt, and then found my receipt was not here. It was a windy day, and I think it must have blown out of the top of my purse before I climbed in the car. Drat! The package wasn't something I needed sent anyway, so it was just a waste of a little more than $10, and then I had to send something else to get a receipt. I just now looked at the comments on that shop and they said, "Double check before submitting because you entered the receipt total where the package weight should have been." Ha! I was just glad to have made it on time because they did not save my first report (which I had planned to just modify and few answers) and I had to start all over. And I was plenty sick of it by then, having done two of them on the same shop.

I must say, though, that overall I'm quite happy with Bare. They're usually very fair on my "score" and they always pay on time. I've made some mess ups, and the scheduler I'm working with is just great. So I give them a "9"!
Jason Bare used to be active with the day-to-day operation of BARE Intl. Whenever I had issues, I would call him to waive it. A great guy.

I have not shopped BARE since they started doing them shipping jobs. They lost the personal touch that I used to like. Another thing is that they got rid of ALL their video shops. The ones who handles these jobs now do not pay as much as BARE did.

The $135 merchandise compensation jobs are now offered by another company for $40. The $75 medical visits now pays $50. The $75 apartments are now only worth $50. I wish they never got rid of their video department.

I still have an Aiptek setup that I got from eBay since they used to pay an extra $25 per job if I used my own equipment and stores them on my server.

Maybe I'll bug Jason on FB to get some video shops going again.
Today is a redux of a day last week, 4 applied for shops, all due today, all in 'Pending' status.
I've done video shops for them as recently as September. They must have a few video clients for whom they still work.
I had my first problem with BARE and was very pleased with their follow-through. I was denied reimbursement of my expenses. The issue arose because the clerk made an error. To fix the error, I ended up with 2 receipts. This must have confused the editor. Long story short, after 3 days of e-mailing, "management" agreed with me and will pay the expensess. So...had an issue, raised the issue to the scheduler, issue was reviewed and ultimately I got the fair outcome.
beatlesfan1964 Wrote:
> I had my first problem with BARE and was very
> pleased with their follow-through. I was denied
> reimbursement of my expenses. The issue arose
> because the clerk made an error. To fix the
> error, I ended up with 2 receipts. This must have
> confused the editor. Long story short, after 3
> days of e-mailing, "management" agreed with me and
> will pay the expensess. So...had an issue, raised
> the issue to the scheduler, issue was reviewed and
> ultimately I got the fair outcome.

Anytime I have something out of the ordinary happen I automatically assume there will be a question. Hitting on the answer up front, in the report, is the way to go. That may not be the end of the situation but you lay the groundwork to the extent that you KNOW something was out of kilter going in, as opposed to an editor thinking you didn't notice - and thus maybe you were paying attention in general.

Not saying you didn't mention it up front, just discussing academically. :-)
I had anticipated the same issue and spelled out the situation in my narrative at the end of the shop. I gave all the details why I had 2 receipts and explained what was on each of them. That is why I was so surprised the editor penalized me for the shop.
JennTodd -

I don't know if this will help you out, but maybe! I am a relatively new shopper - just 7 weeks, and I've been doing this since Day 1.

Do you print out your Survey BEFORE you do the shop? I do.

Then, before you "SUBMIT" your shop, do you print it out to have your completed shop? Yup, I do that. I want to know my answers.

Sassie Shop Surveys are easy to print. I print out the UNanswered Survey, keep it with me for notes in the car. Then when I finish the survey, I turn the Unanswered page over, and print out the ANSWERED survey on the back. It saves paper for me (not ink, can't get past that part). *Normally* it works out - page 1 of the ANSWERED survey gets printed on the backside of Page 1 of the UNanswered survey.

Anyway, it's off topic, but maybe that will help you have your answered survey.

~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~ + ~

Proud To Be A Soldier's Mom
I try to keep my printing at a bare minimum, pun intended! I rarely print a survey anymore since all of the "printable" versions are just the actual survey and contain so much info that is unneeded. After 4 years there are basics ingrained and when there are unique items I might print out a page with bullet points or, better yet, put those in my calendar so they are synced with my phone.

An option if you want to save paper, ink and some trees is printing your completed reports to a file on your computer.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
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