Sentry

I have been shopping for 20+ years and receiving "thank you's" and 9 our of 10 or 10 out of 10 on most shops until I signed up with Sentry.

There is a new food establishment in town and I wanted to shop them so I signed up with Sentry. They have deducted money from 2 out of 3 shops with "reasons" but the one bonused shop just shows up pending for $4 less than promised. I have commented on this to the scheduler, but she still asks me if I will do another shop. I don't shop for fun and excitement, I shop for income or at least savings!

Any helpful insights?

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Yes but nothing repeatable in polite company.

Her Serene Majesty, Cettie - Goat Queen of Zoltar, Sublime Empress of Her Caprine Domain
Hello Kedmunds - It sounds like Sentry explained why they dinged two of your shops, and your question is about the $4 bonus on the as yet unpaid shop not showing on the website.

I've also done bonused shops for them and the bonus didn't show up on the shop on the website, but when I was paid I got the bonused fee promised in the email. This may be what's going on with your shop.

Perhaps someone from the company will hop on here and clarify this. Sentry's good to watch for issues on the forum which concern them.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
I've had a chance to review all three assignments that the OP completed for our company. Our staff assessed a $1 deduction on two of the assignments because the assignment guidelines were not followed.

The bonus is included in the fee/reimbursement calculation for the third assignment, however this assignment was submitted after the deadline. I'd be happy to answer any questions the OP has and I can be reached at dave@sentrymarketing.com.
I have always found Sentry to be fair with the reimbursements and shops. I have had one or two issues with incorrect payments and they have always been fixed quickly.
Why would a lower grade get the shopper to work harder when taking money out of their check didn't?

Honesty, I think it's pretty generous to use the report at all if instructions were not followed. There are no 'points for trying' in the IC world. You botch it, it's on you.

Kedmunds, were you aware that you did not follow directions or turn the bonused shop in on time?
Kedmunds, it looks like you did three in a row that had some sort of problem not adhering to exactly what the MSC wanted. Sentry mentioned the last report was late, but didn't say how late. That was a bonused job, so they would have been especially anxious to get the gate closed on that one. If you run into a problem getting a report in, it would be good to send the company an email that you have completed the shop and you are working on the report. That would be reassuring, and give you an opportunity to let them know when to expect the report.

You may still get dinged for being late, but the situation wouldn't be as tense on both ends. Please be assured you have company on getting dinged. I was dinged for being late on the very first shop I did for them. The guidelines had made it absolutely clear that I absolutely had to get that report in or I would be dinged. No surprise there. Sure enough.

As to whether it's petty for a company to make a money deduction for not adhering to what they need, I say it's great they pay anything at all in those cases. I have done several shops for Sentry and in one case they were especially generous not to make a deduction. Lowering a grade instead of making a deduction is not nearly as effective. I don't care about a grade as long as I get paid, but ding me and I shape up. I'm way past trying to figure out if I'm No. 1, 2, or whatever in the class.

Once you catch on to what they need on those reports, you'll be able to do the Sentry shops with greater speed and less stress. My experience has been this is a solid company to work with, and they have first rate guidelines and training.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
Thanks for the suggestions. On those rare occasions when something comes up that means the report is not going to happen on time, I do notify the scheduler that the physical visit has been completed and the time for the anticipated sumbmission of the report.

I probably have been spoiled by the flexibility of other companies on some of the issues. I respect the fact that Sentry has chosen a rigid structure for their business and there are those who are comforted by having rules for the sake of having rules.

I also realize that as an independent contractor, I should focus my time and energy where it is most financially productive. In recent years I have begun to decide for myself that not assignments are worth accepting and not all MSCs are worth working for. Weeding out and simplifying are healthy things.

MDavisnowell Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Kedmunds, it looks like you did three in a row
> that had some sort of problem not adhering to
> exactly what the MSC wanted. Sentry mentioned the
> last report was late, but didn't say how late.
> That was a bonused job, so they would have been
> especially anxious to get the gate closed on that
> one. If you run into a problem getting a report
> in, it would be good to send the company an email
> that you have completed the shop and you are
> working on the report. That would be reassuring,
> and give you an opportunity to let them know when
> to expect the report.
>
> You may still get dinged for being late, but the
> situation wouldn't be as tense on both ends.
> Please be assured you have company on getting
> dinged. I was dinged for being late on the very
> first shop I did for them. The guidelines had
> made it absolutely clear that I absolutely had to
> get that report in or I would be dinged. No
> surprise there. Sure enough.
>
> As to whether it's petty for a company to make a
> money deduction for not adhering to what they
> need, I say it's great they pay anything at all in
> those cases. I have done several shops for Sentry
> and in one case they were especially generous not
> to make a deduction. Lowering a grade instead of
> making a deduction is not nearly as effective. I
> don't care about a grade as long as I get paid,
> but ding me and I shape up. I'm way past trying
> to figure out if I'm No. 1, 2, or whatever in the
> class.
>
> Once you catch on to what they need on those
> reports, you'll be able to do the Sentry shops
> with greater speed and less stress. My experience
> has been this is a solid company to work with, and
> they have first rate guidelines and training.
Thanks for asking.

I made it clear that on the first report, I did not choose to be seated on the patio, I ended up there as a last resort. This shop says your are to be seated in the dining room, not the patio but there were no tables available inside and none became available during our over 40 minute wait for food. I did not choose to disregard the instruction, I just found that I had not real choice.

On the second, I did forget the restrictions regarding the pre or after visit phone call and made the phone call too close to the shop.

On the third, I followed the instructions and per the instructions I was given, the shop was on time. I made prior arrangments with the scheduler to schedule the shop for the last possible day if I needed it with the verbal understanding that I could do the shop earlier. When the system would not allow me to input, I had to wait on the scheduler to make the necessary adjustments so I could enter the report.

SteveSoCal Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Why would a lower grade get the shopper to work
> harder when taking money out of their check
> didn't?
>
> Honesty, I think it's pretty generous to use the
> report at all if instructions were not followed.
> There are no 'points for trying' in the IC world.
> You botch it, it's on you.
>
> Kedmunds, were you aware that you did not follow
> directions or turn the bonused shop in on time?
Thank you all. I did ask for helpful insights and they were offered and I am pleasantly surprised the company owner offered me his email to discuss any questions I might have.

I am not a "newbie" requiring intense "schooling" on the proper way to follow the instructions of an MSC, I am someone who has been at it for a long while now who has been reading and "listening" on this board to further my education, learn about unfamiliar companies and chase down who may have contracts for shops I once enjoyed that I can no longer find. I do not have a lot of posts to my name because I read more type less, listen more speak less, in an attempt to gather information and contribute only when I feel I truly have something to offer.
kedmunds1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I had to wait on the
> scheduler to make the necessary adjustments so I
> could enter the report.

If that's the case and the and the shop was submitted in a timely manner otherwise, Dave may owe you $4. I'm sure he will make good on it if you bring it to his attention.

On the other issues, you know where the problems were, but I would warm shoppers in general that guidelines are there for a reason. The MSC may not be able to submit the report if they were not followed.

It's a tough situation when you can not be seated where you are directed to. Your options are basically to come back at another time or sit in the alternate location and risk having the shop rejected.

Time and experience will tell you how flexible each MSC is, but communication is the key to making those situations work. I have learned from experience to ALWAYS send a specific note to the MSC if anything was abnormal with my shop. Turning it over to the editors when something is less the 100% will almost always result in some sort of deduction.

The $1 deduction may seem petty to some. It's your option not to work for companies that do that.

I'm not 100% certain that the scoring system really works that well. It sometimes does more harm than good and causes a lot of debate/confusion.
This MSC is my first experience with having $ deducted so my experience has been different due to the companies I have shopped for and the assignments I have accepted, I suppose.

I have had a video shop rejected once early on because the camera loosened up and got a lot of ceiling and not much target and I have called a scheduler on a couple of occasions to state something went drastically wrong due to either an equipment failure or a failure on my part to handle the alias/target thing quite right; expensive mistakes like that accelerate the learning curve.

All in all, over the years I have managed to do a good job of reading and following instructions and being reliable.

And you are right, its a matter of deciding what working conditions are acceptable and how much pay is worth how much aggravation. As I recall from my housecleaning days when the kids were small, scrubbing other people's toilets wasn't bad if the money was right!



SteveSoCal Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> kedmunds1 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I had to wait on the
> > scheduler to make the necessary adjustments so
> I
> > could enter the report.
>
> If that's the case and the and the shop was
> submitted in a timely manner otherwise, Dave may
> owe you $4. I'm sure he will make good on it if
> you bring it to his attention.
>
> On the other issues, you know where the problems
> were, but I would warm shoppers in general that
> guidelines are there for a reason. The MSC may
> not be able to submit the report if they were not
> followed.
>
> It's a tough situation when you can not be seated
> where you are directed to. Your options are
> basically to come back at another time or sit in
> the alternate location and risk having the shop
> rejected.
>
> Time and experience will tell you how flexible
> each MSC is, but communication is the key to
> making those situations work. I have learned from
> experience to ALWAYS send a specific note to the
> MSC if anything was abnormal with my shop.
> Turning it over to the editors when something is
> less the 100% will almost always result in some
> sort of deduction.
>
> The $1 deduction may seem petty to some. It's
> your option not to work for companies that do
> that.
>
> I'm not 100% certain that the scoring system
> really works that well. It sometimes does more
> harm than good and causes a lot of
> debate/confusion.
This is a difficult situation from both perspectives. I know that for many people sitting in the wrong location has led to the entire shop being rejected outright even though they felt they had done everything possible to insure that they were in the correct spot. In that case, the loss of $1 would bring your attention to it, but at least you wouldn't be out of all the money for the shop.

I do also see where the $1 seems petty, however, many people have said that they just ignore their scores anyway.
I don't see how shoppers can complain about $1 being petty. Would y'all rather have it at $5 so it's not a petty amount?

I also don't accept the attitude that deadlines or guidelines are strict and rigid because according to Kedmunds1: "I probably have been spoiled by the flexibility of other companies on some of the issues." WHAT? You're spoiled and choose to do whatever you feel like instead of following rules and guideline, while I actually follow the rules and get the reports in on time?

Not my circus - Not my monkeys @(*.*)@

~Polish Proverb~
If I were an unreliable, irresponsible shopper I am relatively certain I would not receive phone calls in the middle of the day asking if I could clean up messes that other shoppers made and allowing me a bit of extra time to get the report in. I am guessing that I wouldn't get offered high dollar route shops and have them agree to my expense requests either.

The flexibility I refer to isn't about me taking my own sweet time or blowing things off but rather working hand in hand with schedulers and account managers to get things done in a way that works both for the MSC and for me.






cubbiecat Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't see how shoppers can complain about $1
> being petty. Would y'all rather have it at $5 so
> it's not a petty amount?
>
> I also don't accept the attitude that deadlines or
> guidelines are strict and rigid because according
> to Kedmunds1: "I probably have been spoiled by the
> flexibility of other companies on some of the
> issues." WHAT? You're spoiled and choose to do
> whatever you feel like instead of following rules
> and guideline, while I actually follow the rules
> and get the reports in on time?
I think there is a middle ground that MSC's have to tread.

I fully understand that MSC's want excatly what the clients want but life isnt black and white. There are grey areas.

If the report is still useable because the transgression was minor then maybe its worth building a relationship with the shopper.
Maybe educating them so in the future that shopper will do a better job for that MSC and give the client exactly what they are looking for.

Its a win/win for everyone.
Just went to sign up with Sentry "OH MY!" They have a form you fill out then they send you and say you are welcomed to their company. . Then they want you to fill out yet another form with the same information you already filled out. If you don't put a 2nd car down (like everyone has 2 cars right!) the form does not go through. Well thank goodness it didn't!! They have more rules and points and things taken out for this and for that that by the time you shop you probably are left with nothing. Sounds like a terrible company. I am registered with 12 companies and none are like this. I sent an email and guess what? It bounced back as unknown, so much for Sentry...

Savana23



kedmunds1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have been shopping for 20+ years and receiving
> "thank you's" and 9 our of 10 or 10 out of 10 on
> most shops until I signed up with Sentry.
>
> There is a new food establishment in town and I
> wanted to shop them so I signed up with Sentry.
> They have deducted money from 2 out of 3 shops
> with "reasons" but the one bonused shop just shows
> up pending for $4 less than promised. I have
> commented on this to the scheduler, but she still
> asks me if I will do another shop. I don't shop
> for fun and excitement, I shop for income or at
> least savings!
>
> Any helpful insights?
I have never worked with Sentry, frankly, I find their system hard to use (not user friendly), YMMV. I do have to agree with the whole pettiness of taking money from shoppers, tho. To answer cubbie, no I don't think an MSC should subtract $5 (how would that make it less petty?). I think MSCs should communicate with their shoppers who make errors and decide if they're worth educating in the future and someone they wish to continue to move forward with, or if they're someone they just can't use (then let go of). I don't see "negative reinforcement" as any kind of training tool in this field and I'd quickly get rid of a company that deducted my pay by any number of dollars as some sort of enticement to "do better". =P

Also, I think it's extremely unprofessional to tell an entire message board the issues a shopper has had with shops, even if it's in a thread where (and this is my opinion) the original poster was politely asking for help on ... not what Sentry was doing wrong... but on what the shopper might be doing with Sentry versus the other MSCs they have worked with in the past.

Obvsly, Sentry has found some sort of issue with these shops, otherwise they wouldn't have deducted $1 or whatever. Those issues, however, should have been taken up with the OP in a private message (IMO).

There are a lot of MSCs out there that _are_ flexible. Some really nice ones to work with. I agree with kedmunds on this-- you weed out the ones that don't fit and you carry on. I've spoken to a lot of shoppers on this forum who cling to this philosophy and so far it has definitely served many well.

Jen

[I am in no way saying that guidelines aren't there to be followed (to the letter) and that deadlines aren't there to be met. I just wanted to be clear.]
kedmunds1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If I were an unreliable, irresponsible shopper I
> am relatively certain I would not receive phone
> calls in the middle of the day asking if I could
> clean up messes that other shoppers made and
> allowing me a bit of extra time to get the report
> in. I am guessing that I wouldn't get offered high
> dollar route shops and have them agree to my
> expense requests either.


You can't possibly expect your performance with one MSC to influence how another MSC treats you. They are separate businesses.

I'm not suggesting that you are unreliable or irresponsible, but you must establish that with EACH MSC you work for before expecting leniency in not following directions.

If one had a rapport with Sentry and had completed dozens of shops without fail, and then been dinged for a minor error, I could understand being upset. In this case, the OP fully admitted to not following the shop guidelines, so I think a deduction is generous compared to having the shop rejected. Guidelines are generally black and white. You either followed them or you didn't. If you did not, don't complain about being penalized. It's like complaining about getting a speeding ticket after you have sped down a road for the past year without getting one.

I think that when anyone opens up a discussion for public consumption, they have to be prepared to have the facts of the matter exposed. So often I see shoppers complaining about being mistreated, but not owning their mistakes. MSC's do mistreat shoppers at times, but how can we expect them to own up to their shortcomings if we cannot?
Not being able to sit in the dining area surely isn't your fault, timing was off, place was busy. They have a right to
reject shop, why, because it happened to me with an MSC I work for the past 6yrs,and is one of my favorites. I did for the upteen
time a bar audit, but on a Saturday night (which I stay away from), movies were in that mall. The place was crazy
and we waited about 10 minutes only to find no one leaving. We sat at a table where I could easily see the bar, hoping that
would be o.k., NOT!! My report was denied because I didn't sit at the bar, my loss, my date was kind enough to pick up the bill.
I wrote my scheduler (we're on a first name basis), and said Saturday night is an accident waiting to happen, no one can sit at the bar, they need to change this to lunchtime. I have not seen another Saturday evening audit there, somethings are just
out of our control, we always have to be able to take the loss, and yes, it is very dissapointing. I would'nt blame Sentry for this
one, but would refuse (as I will) to sit in the wrong section per instructions.

Live consciously....
In the end, it comes down to smart scheduling. The restaurant wants an observation at the bar or inside dining shop, and that's what you need to give them.

If a restaurant is new or popular, Saturday nights or Noon-1 PM for lunch is going to be problematic. You can always leave and come back later when it's less busy as well.

I called Thursday to get Sat night reservations for an upscale dinner in Bev Hills......Nothing available. They were "Fully committed" for the entire night. My bad for not recognizing the potential problem and calling earlier. I moved it to Friday night (after communicating with the scheduler) and sat in 90 minutes of traffic getting to the restaurant. Why?...because I promised the MSC a shop this weekend. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

The good news is that report is done now and got the rest of the weekend free!
SteveSoCal Wrote:

> I think that when anyone opens up a discussion for
> public consumption, they have to be prepared to
> have the facts of the matter exposed.

And there we are vehemently opposed.

In a business office setting, a co-worker complains to another about a project where the manager took them aside and privately "took them to task" over poor performance. The manager does not then pop out of his office and have it off right then and there with the employee and eighteen of his brethren around to hear it. It is common and acceptable business acumen to take that employee back into the office and to try to reach a clearer understanding of the earlier conversation. That's professionalism, and pretty much Business 101 type stuff. Any current managerial class will teach restraint, discretion, and elucidation.

I also subscribe to the theory that if an employee is responsible for some wrongdoing or misgiving that's really their responsibility to see. Kantianism and all that.

Of course, we are free to disagree. That's, too, is a virtue of an open forum.
Jen,

Obviously I respect your right to disagree, but I think we are disagreeing about the setting more than the principle.

If I can modify your analogy to more accurately reflect what has transpired; If a co-worker stood in front of the entire office staff and explained that they were mistreated by the manager, when in fact the manager had treated them fully within the guidelines, I would expect said manager to pop out of his/her office and set the record straight, since the initial complaint is inciting others to not work for the company.

Immanuel Kant never worked as a scheduler. His optimism about the nature of man may have otherwise been blunted.....
As a manager, it's been my experience that the group setting is not the place to discuss an individual complaint, regardless of who, what, when or where. My conversation with the individual would be private.

Open forum is different from a business setting. I would hope that a shopper with an issue had exhausted all remedies, before posting a warning or major complaint, though that may not always be the case. This is a shopper's forum. MSPs may get their feelings hurt, and feel compelled to defend and place blame. Is this the place to duke it out? Not in my opinion. Inferring the intent of the shopper is to 'incite others not to work for the company' is an assumption. Maybe the shopper was frustrated, intimidated, wrong, outmatched, or in denial. Readers can question, and will determine the weight to give to all sides of the issue.

Take it private. If, after that, all avenues are exhausted, and the shopper still feels wronged, then post, and we'll put our heads together.
Agreed, Mert. Shoppers should give it their best effort to work out issues privately with an MSC before posting about it on the forum. Threads like this have a reason for being here because they reinforce that point.

For the record, I was not not saying that the OP intended to incite others to not work for the MSC. I'm simply pointing out that a complaint about an MSC that goes unanswered may likely result in that, and that's more then just feelings getting hurt. As said by CAscotch, "I have never shopped for sentry. I have thought about it on a couple occasions but decided not to because of all the complaints."

Sentry is not without it's faults, and certainly draws fire from from many shoppers for its policies and operating procedures at times, but one thing everyone will agree on is that there's a guy at the helm of that MSC who cares about his company and is incredibly open and available to shoppers, and forum members. Are there any forum members that have a concern about getting in communication with Dave if there was a problem with your shop for him?

I read posts every day about MSCs that don't respond to shoppers, drop shoppers for no reason, reject shops for no reason, don't pay shoppers, don't accept shoppers, have unreasonable age limits, etc. So here we have a company that's honestly trying to do things right. They take feedback from shoppers, strive to improve their system and are incredibly communicative with shoppers. Still, they get hated on by people who don't like the application, don't like the website, don't like the deductions, don't like having the follow shop guidelines to the letter, or just don't like the owner for some personal reason I don't understand.

Sure their may be better companies to work for, but there are a lot more worse companies, I promise you. I have signed up with this company, taken the training courses and performed shops without any issues. If I ever had an issue, I'm confident that I could simply contact Dave and get it resolved. What more can someone want from an MSC?
When the poster admits his/her fault with a job and comes here to get his ego stroked, hearing both sides of the story helps us as
shoppers...in this case Dave almost had to stick up for himself, as the shopper was in the wrong, and I say that knowing it was
not his fault, but happened. This could have been cared for between the two of them, and the shopper needed to take whatever,
like not getting paid, it has happened to us all. I would have tried to resolve it with Sentry on my own, and not dissed them since
poster was wrong. Coming on the forum to ask advice before doing the job is fine, but if you want to diss a company, please be
sure you are right....it is a forum, we support each other, but no reason to tell others not to shop a certain MSC. What works
for one is another man's poisen.

Live consciously....
Sentry Marketing Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've had a chance to review all three assignments that the OP completed for our company.


All of this has been interesting and insightful.

But, what I want to know is, how does Sentry Marketing know for sure who the OP is? They didn't provide identifying information. Is the OP's screen name simply first initial, last name? (Looks like it might be.) Or does Sentry just remember a shopper with those issues?

I don't blame Sentry for replying, at all; but knowing exactly who the OP is, is a bit creepy. Heh.

I guess a good reason for not using the first initial/last name protocol for your screen name!

Happiness is merely life's way of keeping you off-balance.
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