Sentry Marketing Group

Anyone know anything about Sentry Marketing Group? They are recruiting in Texas currently and contacted me. I filled out the initial and there are several tests. In taking the first 2 tests, some red flags came up for me. The shops they offer required a high dollar expenditure, so I am mulling it over. Anyone worked with them? Thanks

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I have done a shop or two for them. I rarely see anything from them here. I had no problems. I got paid on time. I did not have to outlay any big bucks.

“Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."
~Gilbert K. Chesterton
OK, I found out more. Sentry has a Steak House shop in Austin, paying $100 reimbursement. Coast to Coast is recruiting for them. I went in and took their 2 basic exams - very quirky testing - lots of technical problems - and the shop material and tests are full of typos (while telling shoppers that Sentry can't accept typos or poor sentence structure). I researched the steak house, and the $100 reimbursement won't cover the cost of the 2 meals. I decided to walk away. If anyone's looking for steak house shops in Austin, here is one. If it's a steak house you love and eat there anyway, I guess it'd be a good deal because you'd save the $100. But to go there just for the shop and have to pay $30 or so ...... then too, putting out $100 and waiting for reimbursement is a risk for a company I haven't worked with before. I just got burned on Mystery Guest and don't want to take any more chances.
I certainly understand your hesitancy to do it. I did a steak house last month with a $150 reimbursement and still had to shell out about $15. At least I got a heads up that you could order 'half order's of the sides required, which cut down the sides cost by about 25%. Nevertheless it was ridiculous because the food wasn't even that good. But at least this is a company where pay/reimbursement is like clockwork and I have worked with them for years. But although I am signed up with Coast to Coast and Sentry I have never seen anything in my area.
Well, I've probably earned a black mark on this one .... I replied to the scheduler (Alison, Coast to Coast) that I'd be interested. Then I got about 20 e-mails from Coast to Coast and Sentry telling me it was urgent and that I needed to take 3 tests (2 Sentry miscellaneous shopper tests & 1 food service test) before I could accept. They put it on my homepage for me to accept before I could even log in. Once I logged in and took the first 2 tests and was able to look at the assignment .... that was the first time I knew which steak house. After researching and finding out the steak house isn't getting good reviews (all reviews say expensive and mediocre food, including friends who have gone) and that it would cost me at least $30 beyond the reimbursement not to mention that I'd have to risk the $100 - not knowing how or IF this company pays - I e-mailed the scheduler and declined - just said I'd been unable to take the tests and felt in fairness to Sentry and other shoppers I should decline and allow someone else to do the shop. Sentry immediately pulled my login .... so I can't log in there anymore - I guess that's a clue? - Alison, the scheduler e-mailed and asked if she could help me ... was I unable to pass the test or were there technical problems ... maybe she could help me pass to facilitate this and I could do the shop. I e-mailed as tactfully as I could that I had just decided, based on the 2 miscellaneous tests, that I was not a good match with the company so had chosen not to take the final test. Never heard from her again. So guess I can forget working with Coast to Coast or Sentry. I haven't been shopping long - is it a usual practice to try to get a shopper to commit to a shop without knowing who they will be shopping? All the food shops I have done up to now tell you up front who you will be shopping.
It is not unusual to not have the client name. Usually, though, you have the address once you get to the job board (sometimes only the zip code). I routinely drop addresses in Google to see what the place is. I think I would have been up front with whomever you were communicating with to tell them that based on your research, the reimbursement would not even cover the cost of the requirements so you decided you did not want to perform the shop at a loss to you. I would say nothing about the reviews or poor experience of friends because we are always supposed to go into a shop open minded and unprejudiced.
Oh, NO, I didn't tell her about reviews I had heard or that I was unwilling to risk $100 with an unknown-to-me company or that the reimbursement wouldn't cover the cost - those were just MY reasons for choosing to opt out and I kept them to myself. All I said in my initial e-mail was that, since I had been unable to complete the tests and was not qualified for the shop, I felt in fairness to Sentry and other shoppers, I should decline and allow someone else to take the shop. After that my login no longer worked. The next day I got the e-mail from the scheduler offering to help me complete the tests. At that point, I just told her that, based on the 2 miscellaneous tests, that I was not a good match with the company so had chosen not to take the final test. That was also true - the 1st 2 tests about company information and expectations raised red flags with me and made me uncomfortable. I haven't been shopping long - since October - but I have shopped some really great companies that I love and I figure if I'm not comfortable with a company before I even do one shop for them ...... do I really want to move forward with them? But I didn't feel the need to go into all my reasons with the scheduler OR to tell her about reviews passed on to me.
Sorry I misunderstood you. I thought you had completed all tests, been assigned the shop and then declined once you could see it. If you still had one test to go, then your comment is perfectly reasonable. In general I have no problem with sharing with a scheduler a specific concern about a shop, such as not covering required purchase costs. I have gritted my teeth and gone out of pocket beyond reimbursement on a few first visit restaurants but when asked specifically to do them the next time explain that I won't perform them because they don't reimburse enough for the requirements. On occasion that yields a bonus offer to help cover, but not often.
More information. I just got an e-mail from the scheduler, Allison @ Coast to Coast, notifying all shoppers that she is no longer scheduling for Sentry. She said shoppers with pending assignments could still complete their assignment for Sentry but if they chose not to, to please contact Sentry to cancel.
Wish I'd thought to search for mystery shopping forums and gotten a little feedback about them before I registered and did my shops for them....

I'm out money that I shouldn't be.

I agree with the poster that wrote about the red flags and how their site is full of the errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Yet, they insist your reports be perfect.

Here's what I'm thinking. I think they took my report that was written perfectly, submitted it the their client and got paid for it...then came at me with some BS about how I'm not going to get paid because it was late when it wasn't!

Whatever! You live and you learn, I suppose.
You may well be right, Mommyto6, about them submitting your shop and then declining to pay. I was concerned when taking their initial tests because they go into such GREAT DETAIL about disallowing shops. I haven't been shopping long, but I've done 500+ shops and only had one $5 shop disallowed, one of my first. Disallowing shops should be fairly rare for a company; Sentry spent so much time and effort talking about it, it seems for them it is not rare. That worried me and I decided not to work for them. Sorry you got caught in it. Hope you didn't lose much.
I want to state that I have only done one or two shops for them, and did not have any problems, got no questions on the report, which was only partly positive, the Agius' were nice to interact with, and they paid me very promptly per their stated terms. Maybe issues have cropped up since October, wen I last did a shop, but the experiences you both are related could not be more different from my own. Based on my experience, I would shop for them again.

“Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."
~Gilbert K. Chesterton
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I am sure glad I found this forum so that I could address the many accusations being thrown around here.

We are legitimate, well capitalized, healthy and growing company. I am the owner of the company and can assure readers we have nothing to hide. In fact, I am more than willing to address any of the issues raised in this form on or offline. My contact information is:

David Agius, Owner
The Sentry Marketing Group
214-295-2615 x 710

First, let me deal with the accusation by MommyTo6 that we would use a shopper’s report and refuse to pay. Very simply, this is completely untrue and slanderous. If the poster wants to convey the details of the visit in question, I will be happy to research and post my findings on this forum. The poster can reply in public or contact my privately using the information above. When we reject a report it because the assignment guidelines were not followed, the assignment is poorly written and beyond revision or that there are timing issues/the report is late.

It’s very simple: When the assignment is completed properly, the report is edited, released to the client and the shopper gets paid in about 6 weeks. If the report does not meet our guidelines in terms of content, quality or instruction, the report does not get used.

Next, I’m curious, AustinMom, how much research you did about our company. There is a three page post on Volition that is easy to pull up and would have given you a very clear picture about us. In addition, we are a member of the MSPA. I’d also like to know how you determined that the assignment in question would cost you “at least $30 beyond the reimbursement”. You fail to mention that the assignment pays a $5 fee. I acknowledge it’s not a lot of money, but many fine dining shops are reimbursement only. The reality of the situation is across thirteen visits this year, shopper’s have spent an average of $101.18, with a high of $122 and a low of $86.

You also failed to mention that this project involves weekly visits (which you were made aware of), that you accepted the visit on a Monday for the upcoming weekend and cancelled on Friday. Of course, you cancelled out of “fairness to Sentry”. We were not able to get the assignment covered and failed to meet our obligation to the client that week.

I’m not sure why you think the reviews of this restaurant are relevant. As Flash stated, that brings your objectivity into question. Also, when you cancelled this assignment, you told Allyson that it was because we required a response to any request for clarification by 5:00 PM. I believe that Allyson informed you that the reference to a 5:00PM deadline was our company’s commitment to return all shopper inquiries received before noon by 5:00 PM the same day. You misunderstood this portion of our Orientation presentation. I was the person that deactivated your account. You stated that you were not a good match for our company. Based on this comment, I determined that you no longer needed access to our site because you did not intend to accept any assignments for our company.

Your comments about the “GREAT DETAIL” we go into about rejecting assignments is equally curious. If we don’t convey our standards, for example when a report is due, then we’re held accountable for being vague. If we communicate specific criteria, we are going into “GREAT DETAIL” and it’s a cause for concern. I’d say that you want it both ways. You state that “disallowing shops should be fairly rare for a company” and that “Sentry spent so much time and effort talking about it, it seems it is not rare for them”. We don’t routinely reject shops and experienced shoppers understand that rejected shops actually COST the mystery shopping company money in the way of duplicate editing fees, bonuses needed to complete last minute assignments and similar costs. Inexperienced shoppers with wild imaginations and trust issues might perceive the situation differently. They would be wrong. Why do we reject shops? This month and last we have rejected shops because:

- Shopper was unable to complete her shop, so she sent her friend
- Shopper did not respond to editor’s request for additional information. Shop was withdrawn after a 48 hour wait
- Shopper submitted identical report, word for word, for two separate visits to restaurant client
- On a bar shop, shopper requested premium liquor when guidelines specifically state not to do so. Shopper asked for a receipt when guidelines specifically state no to do so.

In each of these cases, the situation is specifically address in the preparation material.

Lastly, let me address out training site (Sentry Marketing University), scheduling and the references to errors in our material.

Beginning in March, 2009, we ended our relationship with Coast-to-Coast Scheduling Services. CTCSS did a great job for us for over two years. As our company grew, however, we decided that we would transition our scheduling activity to a full time, in house scheduler. This is not an uncommon situation for growing companies.
On to our training material:

Is our training material perfect? Absolutely not. Do we have high content and editorial standards? Absolutely. We are constantly revising all of our assignment prep material in an effort to make sure that each piece is grammatical correct and contains all of the current revisions and assignment updates. As a former shopper, I’ve found similar errors in material from large and small companies alike. If you believe that grammatical errors on our part are a “red flag”, that is your prerogative, but you are probably not the type of shopper that fits our core skill set.

Shoppers were informed that our training site, Sentry Marketing University, was in pilot phase and that there may be issues with the training modules. The majority of shoppers were understanding, provided outstanding feedback and helped us iron out the issues. As of two weeks ago, the major technical issues have been resolved and assistance requests have dropped from 10 – 12 per day to 3 – 5 per week.

If shopper want to know what kind of company were are, here’s what I would tell them:

We are a fair company that operates on a foundation of mutual respect and accountability with our shoppers. The Sentry Marketing Group cannot thrive without a robust family of mystery shoppers and we are working hard to build a long-term relationship with them. Judge us by our actions, not our words. In the last six months, here is a partial list of the shopper related projects that we have launched:

- Shoppers told us they wanted a scoring system for their reports. We developed and launched this last fall
- Shoppers told us they wanted feedback on their reports. We developed and launched an auto feedback process that sends an email to shoppers with the details of their visit, report grade, editor comments and recap of fee and/or reimbursement payment
- At our own expense, we developed a Shopper History database with web access on our website with that allows shoppers to view comprehensive details about their past visits with our company. The site allows shoppers to see if required documents have been received, bonus or fee deduction details, editor comments and the date their payment check was processed.
- This year we launched Live Chat assistance, a searchable knowledge base, traceable ticket system for inquiry submission and ability to assist with SMU over the web
- We invested in Sentry Marketing University, our dedicated shopper resource and learning center. Currently, we are in the process of migrating all shopper preparation material to this location.
- This month we launched our Shopper of the Month recognition program that rewards our top shoppers with a $20 Visa Gift Card.

We have a great relationship with the majority of our shoppers. I believe in fostering a rapport that is both candid and respectful. In no way do we have anything to hide and I do not have an issue being held accountable for my actions or the actions of anyone associated with this company. My contact information is included with this posting and I invite anyone with a question to contact me directly or ask their question in this forum.

I’d like to end my posting by sharing a few thoughts that have been on my mind for a while. Since we launched our company in May, 2005, I have noticed a disturbing trend emerge in new and inexperienced shoppers. The level of aggressive behavior in this group has been increasing over the past three years and I believe that it is a real threat to the industry. I’d like to see the experienced shopper contingent become more active on forums like this one so they can help new shoppers develop positive work habits.
I support forums like this one and understand the need for transparency in our industry. That being said, this thread is disturbing because of the biased comments, inaccurate information and outright lies that it contains. It’s easy to hide behind an anonymus online id and spread untrue information. We’re not hiding behind anything.

Dave Agius, Owner
The Sentry Marketing Group
Hi everyone, I would like to take this time to introduce myself. My name is Heather Morge, and I am the scheduler for The Sentry Marketing Group. I have been in the mystery shopping industry since 2001 as both an Independent Contractor as well as a Project Manager. I have worked on 'both sides of the fence' so to speak and truly understand your concerns as a shopper. At this time, I would like to address your concerns from the other side of the fence.

While reading some of your posts, I found a few comments that I would like to clarify by publicly posting to this forum. To whom it may concern, please remember that when a shopper does not get paid for a shop, neither do we. I have to take the time to recreate a visit, recruit for it, schedule it, and monitor it until completion. This includes monitoring the shop through the editing phase to make sure it was stamped with the letter of approval and sent to the client. Schedulers, editors, admin staff, quality control, and so on, do not get paid for a shop or report when the shopper fails to conduct a shop accurately and on time. This is the very reason why we take the time to cover all aspects of why a shop can be invalid because we want shoppers to succeed! It is unfortunate for all parties involved when a shop in not valid. Often times, I offer the shopper the opportunity to re-conduct the visit as opposed to simply scheduling another shopper. Working on both sides of the fence, I have had a shop been marked invalid before as a shopper. I WANTED the opportunity to showcase that the reason it was invalid was an oversight on my part, and I wanted to demonstrate that I took full responsibility for the shop that resulted in invalidation. Often times, I feel as though I am not just a scheduler for The Sentry Marketing Group but also the shopper’s advocate. I do whatever it takes to prep, assist, and follow through with shops and shoppers alike.

Sentry Marketing Group is a remarkable company, not to mention certified by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, that I personally place my name behind, or I would not have taken the time to publicly post to this forum. It is unfortunate that some of you have not given this company the opportunity to see if you and Sentry could work well together. I have a wonderful resource of shoppers that I schedule for this company as well as others. They are honest, to the point, and are truly in this industry for the opportunities in which it offers. If they have a payment question, scheduling concern, or shop instruction’s question, they are quick to email me because they know that I will provide them with the resources they need in a positive, prompt, helpful and professional manner.

If you have ANY questions, comments, or concerns regarding The Sentry Marketing Group, feel free to email me at, or post to this thread directly. I am also including all of our company information at the bottom of this email should you prefer to discuss anything via telephone. I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have or address any of your concerns either publicly or privately.


Heather Morge
Project Manager/Scheduler
The Sentry Marketing Group
P. O. Box 2367, Frisco, TX 75034
Phone - 214.295.2615

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/06/2009 04:26PM by Heather.SentryMarketing.
WHOA, David, I did NOT accept the shop. IYou have me confused with someone else - or Allyson did not tell you what I told her. I can forward my email to Allyson to you - I did not accept and cancel a shop and your quote on what I told Allyson is totally wrong. How many people in Austin ended up not workintg with you? More than just me, apparently. Allyson told me she put it on my page - before I took any of the tests, in fact before I was even able to log in. I was told that as soon as I could log in, I should take the 2 general tests and the qualifying steak house test, after which I should pick a date and accept the shop. I took the two general tests and decided I preferred not to move forward; I contacted the Scheduler and declined to pursue the business relationship. I did NOT take the qualifying steak house test so was never eligible to perform the shop, and I did NOT accept the shop. I did not do a lot of research about Sentry before deciding I did not wish to work as an independent contractor for it....that is a benefit of working as an independent contractor rather than an employee - the ability to pick and choose which companies I wish to work for and which types of assignments I choose to accept. In that same vein, Sentry can deactivate a shopper's login at any time - it isn't like firing an employee. I work for a number of companies and I feel comfortable doing so. I did not feel comfortable, after taking the two initial tests, with working for Sentry, and I chose not to move forward with the relationship, but I absolutely DID NOT accept the shop and then cancel. If you were told that I did, you were misinformed. If your website showed that I selected a date and confirmed the shop, then someone did that rather than me - I did not. The shop may have been put on my home page by Allyson, who was the scheduler (I don't know Heather, never had any communication with her) but at no time did I accept or confirm the assignment, nor did I select a date for that shop. Although I did decide I preferred not to pursue a business relationship with Sentry, I did not fail to carry out an assignment I had accepted .... I am a professional and I deeply resent the idea that I did. TOTALLY incorrect.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/09/2009 05:52AM by AustinMom.
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Go ahead and forward that email to me. I would like to review your email exchange with Allyson and compare it to our records. You are the only shopper in the Austin area who has declined to work with our company. We work with many shoppers in the Austin area even though we do not have many assignments there at this time.

I would like to set the record straight with regard to this issue:

If you are who I think you are, then you applied to shop with our company on 1/28/2009. I can’t be 100% sure who you are since you haven’t revealed your identity. I’m fairly certain, however, since these details match up exactly with a cancelled vast we had this past February.

You reasoned to Allyson’s MSPA posting for certified shoppers in Austin. Based on your application, you are an MSPA Silver Certified shopper with over 100 shops experience. On January 28, 2009 you submitted an application, including a writing sample, to our company. The application was approved on that day and, per the schedulers notes “1/29--Assigned ShXXXX WXXXXXXX; instructed to take quiz before shop (alw), you were assigned the steakhouse visit.

Next, the shopper reviewed to ½ hour presentations and passed the respective quizzes. When you passed the quizzes for the Orientation and Report Content modules, you met the qualifications for the assignment. When the scheduler contacted you on 2/5 to ask you to select a date for your assignment, you responded on 2/6 with a cancellation because “I have been unable to complete the training and test to qualify for this shop, so, in fairness to Sentry and to the other Austin shoppers, I will decline and allow the shop to be assigned to another shopper”. The only problem is that:

a) You already had qualified for the shop – there was no “steak house test”
b) The visit needed to be completed on the 7th or 8th of February

When the scheduler asked you questions about your cancellation, you told her that “There were some technical difficulties, but, while irritating, they did not keep me from completing the tests. I simply felt this would not be the most comfortable business arrangement for me or for Sentry, and I chose not to continue.” and that “My biggest concern was the requirement to respond by 5:00 p.m. the same day if called or e-mailed before noon”.

As I stated earlier, the policy you referred to in your note IS OUR INTERNAL STANDARD THAT WE USE TO MEASURE HOW EFFEICTIVELY WE ARE CONTACTING SHOPPERS WHO SUBMIT ISSUES TO US. If you had simply asked us about this policy, we would have cleared it up the issue.

You claim that you never accepted the assignment, but you logged into the shopper website on 2/2 and 2/7. The assignment was listed under the heading MY ASSIGNMENTS. So, you expressed interest in an MSPA posting, applied to shop for our company, reviewed all of the prep material and passed two quizzes, logged into the shopper website where the assignment was visible as an assigned visit and then cancelled on a Friday for a visit that was due on Sunday. Your justification is that you never clicked the ACCPET THIS VISIT button and that you are an independent contractor and may do as you wish. Both are true and neither are good reasons for a last minute cancellation. It is your prerogative to perceive the situation, but from my point of view, that’s a flaked assignment.
The fact is that you don’t want misinformation spread about you and I don’t want the same for my company. You claim that you are a professional, but you readily admit that you did not do a lot of research about our company. Moreover, you convey incorrect and unsubstantiated information in this thread. First, you claim the reimbursement for the assignment in question in insufficient, an issue that has not been raised by anyone who has actually performed the assignment. Next, you tell the user Mommyto6 that “You may well be right, Mommyto6, about them submitting your shop and then declining to pay”. Exactly what is that belief based on? I don’t think it is very “professional” to open pontificate about a company’s integrity when you have no firsthand knowledge of misconduct on their part.

As I review your post, it’s pretty clear to me that your poor experience with another mystery shopping company impacted your decision to complete assignments for our company. As an independent contractor, you are free to complete assignments for companies at your discretion. In this case, however, you responded to our posting, applied to shop with our company, successfully qualified for the assignment and then cancelled it at the last minute. You claim that you did nto know who the client was, yet you logged in on 2/2 and the client name and address were clearly visible with the assignment details

I am sorry that you had a poor experience with another mystery shopping compnay, but I don’t think it justifies the last minute cancellation, misinformation and baseless accusations that you’ve posted in this forum.
WOW, Dave, the BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE. The big issue here is that Mommyto6 contends that she conducted shops for you and was not paid; she stated that she believes you used those reports although you did not pay her. I said she may be correct. She may also not be correct. But I don't see you explaining why she wasn't paid or arguing whether or not she deserved to be paid for her work. Instead you are arguing semanics with me - who chose not to pursue a relationship with your company - about whether or not I accepted a shop and then cancelled. I did log on to your website twice and I did take your first two general shopper tests. During the course of those tests, I determined I did not want to pursue the relationship, and without attempting the restaurant test which Allyson told me was required to qualify me for the steak house shop, I e-mailed Allyson and told her I did not want to move forward and pursue the business relationship. There WAS a third test on restaurants which I did not take. It's pretty irrelevant, though - whether or not I accepted or did not accept - that's over, you did not pay me, and you and I will not have any future business relationship. Over and done. WHAT ABOUT MOMMYTO6's payment? Why have you not responded on that issue? Do you plan to respond? Instead of responding to the burning issue all shoppers who are considering your company want to know - WILL I BE PAID BY SENTRY FOR MY WORK? -- you are ignoring that issue and making a big deal out of one shopper who you believe flaked on you. Let's say I flaked on you. Now let's move on. Please answer whether Mommyto6 will be paid, and if not, why not. You've obviously spent time to identify who I am - - but are you spending as much time trying to identify Mommyto6 and learn how many shops she performed for which she wasn't paid, the reason the shops were disallowed, the monetary value of the shops? Beyond throwing out some general reasons why some shops might be disallowed, I haven't seen anything to make me believe you're at all concerned about the payment issue she brought forward. You certainly haven't spent any time here addressing it. Your long posts read SMOKESCREEN.

Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 04/09/2009 05:37PM by AustinMom.
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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/11/2009 04:56AM by David Agius.
David, I'm not sure that you quite understand the role of SHOPPER forums. We serve several purposes, one is to encourage shoppers to do their best on the jobs they do so that it helps elevate overall the relationship between shoppers and companies.

When we screw up, by accident or design, there is always an MSP ready to pounce and punish us by non payment, termination as shoppers, and I suspect badmouthing us within the industry. At least you have the privilege of being able to see what we have to say about you.

We all have a problem or issue with some company at some time with jobs and a forum allows us the opportunity to vent our frustration as well as to warn other shoppers. I remember not too long ago I performed a job (not for Sentry) for a company that was done and reported within the time frame. Precisely what my instructions were to order was ordered. There was no issue with receipt or any of the rest of it. I was refused payment because "You should have questioned the order requirement." Huh? When you tell me specifically in my instructions to order pickles with ice cream at midnight and I do that, don't expect me to question your judgment if the restaurant is open and serving that at that time of day. If one person gets disallowed payment on that shop, how many more who follow the specific written instructions are likely to have the same problem? Do you think we are wrong to warn others???

We don't follow blindly what other shoppers say or do. If we did there would be no companies left at all to work with because each and every one of us at some point seems to have a problem with some company. Rather it is the patterns of abuse that get our attention. All of us think for ourselves.

It is a valuable tool for us to see what issues others are running into because it helps us avoid no-win situations. Having been personally burned last year to the tune of about $140 by an MSP that shut its doors without payment, and many shoppers discovering slow payment or rejected shops with no viable reason for their rejection, we are all very sensitive to the solvency issues with companies at this time. Few of us are willing or able to lay out a substantial amount of money for a dinner out that we are unlikely to get paid for. Few of us have the time to run all over the place doing shops and reports for no payment.

I think for most of us, 1 issue is a shopper vent. Many 'chime ins' of similar problems equals a potential problem. Personally my own indicator in this market is that slow payments = serious questions about solvency. When a shopper I have known and respected for years talks about unfairly rejected shops, I listen.
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Prior to starting The Sentry Marketing Group, I was a mystery shopper. I was active for over three years and conducted about 2,000 shops. During that time, I became MSPA Silver and Gold certified, had a few shops rejected, experienced technical difficulties with websites and ran into most of the issues described in these forums.

I understand the purpose for these forums. You state that "when we screw up there is always an MSP ready to pounce on us" and you describe several unfortunate situations. I don't see how those situations apply here. My company HAS NEVER rejected a shop for any reason other than it did not meet some stated guideline. Of course, I can't defend my company against any allegation made by Mommyto6 or AustinMom because they are too cowardly to confirm their true identity.

There's a flip side to your point about shoppers rights and recourse. What is a MS company to do when the assignment guidelines are clearly not followed and the report cannot be used. As shoppers, you want MS companies to abide by a code of ethics but there is growing segment of shoppers who break their ICA when it suits them.

What recourse do we have when a shopper flakes an assignment and we have to pay a bonus to get it done? How fair is that? When a shopper flakes, like AustinMom did, and we cannot get the shop done, we lose the opportunity to generate income. How fair is that?

I don't have a problem with shoppers sharing information. I have a problem with lies and misinformation being spread by shoppers who won't accept accountability for their actions. Judging from your posts, you are a highly experienced shoppers. As such a person, I'd look to you to take a leadership role among less experienced shoppers and help them develop good habits.
Since you have been a shopper and involved in forums then you must recognize how it looks when a company comes riding into the fray on their white horse with shining armor. Unfortunately there are problems on both sides of any relationship and sometimes it is best to just leave them be. Ultimately the MSPs have the ultimate recourse, refusal to pay, termination of shoppers and selective awarding of jobs.

One of my personal beefs with many companies is that they appear to build the cost of possible bonuses into the lowered fees for all jobs. So a job that would fairly pay $X starts off at $X-$Y because they might have to pay some shopper $X+$2Y to eventually do the shop. I just have the sense that shoppers would be less likely to "flake" if they were being treated with respect and paid reasonably for their work. Of course you will get some flakes, but at least to some extent that is within your control with your initial shopper screenings.

My examples apply here only in the sense that these forums are for us, the shoppers, to discuss issues we are having, frustrations we are encountering with various companies and annoyance with being treated with little or no respect as competent human beings. I see no reason whatsoever for Mommyto6 or AustinMom to identify themselves to you because I see nothing on your side of the equation offering to straighten out any misunderstandings but rather just slaps at them for being "cowardly" and unreliable.

I do know of several companies I have decided not to associate with because when I was reading through their materials there were constantly things like "Don't try to lie" and "Don't try to send photos from a previous visit" and "Don't attempt to lie" ad infinitum. You were a shopper. Put on your shopper hat and tell me how that feels? You want us to act like professionals? Treat us as professionals! You have a problem with one or two or a dozen shoppers? Don't treat the rest of us like potential felons.
David Agius Wrote:
> Judging
> from your posts, you are a highly experienced
> shoppers. As such a person, I'd look to you to
> take a leadership role among less experienced
> shoppers and help them develop good habits.

Flash is a great help to others here, but IMHO it is unrealistic for MSC's to *expect* other shoppers to take time to train new shoppers. This is, as you have stated in your posts on the Austin Mom topic, a business. Newbie trainer is a role no one (here) gets paid for; when we do take time to do so, it is for our own personal reasons, whatever they might be.

Maybe you would consider starting a thread for newbies, covering common mistakes, etc, Dave?

“Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."
~Gilbert K. Chesterton
Warning: This User Has Been Banned or Is No Longer Active

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/11/2009 04:57AM by David Agius.
This has been compelling reading with both sides presenting and defending. I appreciate the impetus to protect one's reputation. Ultimately, the MSP has the upper hand, but hashing out between parties is none of my business.
I just wanted to say that this company just started offering shopping opportunities in my area in January 2009. I completed the online "school" without any problems. I just took my time. There are many companies out there that require shoppers to take tests or submit writing samples prior to working for them. It states on their website that all payments will be paid within 60 days. Now there are some companies that pay quicker than this, but most companies especially the ones using the sassie system (this company does not) that take 60 days to pay. That is stated up front prior to you selecting a job. So, if you don't want to wait that long for a payment, don't take a job from them. I have had no problems with this company. I have spoken to the owner several times and I have been paid for all of my completed shops. I followed the directions for the shops and so far all of my shops have been accepted. The clients that mystery shopping companies do business with have specific requirements and the shopper and the company that the shopper is hired by must meet these requirements. I have found that this is a great new company to work for. Give them a chance and if you follow the shop instructions, I think you will like working for this company. I would recommend this shopping company and I have been a mystery shopper for the past 9 years.
Anyone besides me ever notice how a brand new member with no previous posts just always pops up out of nowhere *whenever* someone criticizes a company? :-)

“Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."
~Gilbert K. Chesterton

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/10/2009 06:59PM by dee shops.
I'm sure you have heard and/or used this one:



From the Bible, Matthew 12:25 (King James Version):

"And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand".

For those of you that observe this holy day of "Good Friday" and even to those who do not, truer words have never been spoken!
I am not getting your drift, Modario. Whom or what is that in reference to?

“Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."
~Gilbert K. Chesterton
I also found it fascinating that Kris Z registered at 2:43 and by 2:47 had his first (and thus far only) post. Speed reader or directed?
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