Second to None Responsiveness/Unresponsiveness?

Does this company respond to shoppers' inquiries?
I requested my first shop with STN and was accepted. Due to instructions that were not clear, I e-mailed my scheduler, using the link provided on the STN website for "help." Waited many hours with no response (I was to start the shop today, so really needed an answer), then filled out the help-desk form asking the same questions. Last night I found, due to a family emergency, that I can't do the shop. There's a phone number for the scheduler on the site, but it was too late at night to call, so I e-mailed, explaining I couldn't do the shop, and why. Early this morning I find a shop reminder e-mail from the scheduler, which I assume is auto-generated. But, still no response to my first e-mail asking for clarification on the instructions, and no response to my cancellation request. So I also filled out a help-desk form (which I doubt will help, but since my scheduler doesn't respond....). I also had not received a response from the help desk on my request for clarification, but maybe it's not manned on Sundays.

I generally experience very good communication and response times from other companies I shop for. Now I'm wondering if this company is going to be hard to get answers out of if I need clarification on instructions or if other issues arise. Does anyone have experience in back-and-forth (personal) communication with them?

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.

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Last week I emailed the scheduler directly with questions about a shop I was to do in 48 hours. I used the email address that she provided in her reminder email. Thirty (30) hours later, I received a response. Just based on my past experience with this company, that is fairly normal. I don't believe I have ever had 'immediate response' to the few emails I have sent asking clarification about a shop.

I have never used the help-desk form.
It must depend on your scheduler because for the most part I've had fairly responsive schedulers. I really only deal with one scheduler though so you must have a different scheduler.
Well, I got responses back late yesterday afternoon and late last evening from the help desk and scheduler, respectively, but too late to have helped with the shop I was to have done. Still no acknowledgement on my cancellation (due to a critical family situation--have to stay home with an injured child and could not leave the house to go to the location and pick up the item). Will probably get a "shop overdue" notice tomorrow! Well, I tried to give them enough advance notice so they could assign to someone else....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
I fired this MSC for non-response to a point of clarification. I tried both E-inquiries and the phone, but failed to receive a reply by the time the shop needed to be completed.
I have to ask: Shopperbob - how many companies have you fired overall and how many do you work for?
Your willingness to treat MSing as a serious business is admirable and you do apply a very sound business analysis in your posts.
4M inquires--how many companies have you fired overall and how many do you work for?

BOB'S reply--I've fired 8, and although it wasn't asked, 4 have terminated me; the 2nd part of the above query is more difficult to answer. As an example, I've completed 297 shops for Quest 4 Best, but nothing in the past 2 yrs.; this due to the MSC having nothing available in my area. The total number of companies for whom I completed at least one assignment in the preceding 12 mos. is 17.

4M states--Your willingness to treat MSing as a serious business is admirable and you do apply a very sound business analysis in your posts.

BOB'S reply--Thank you for those kind words. My approach to the business works for me, but, as I've previously posted, I failed in my attempt to establish this profession as a full time endeavor. It was only after I realized that my mark would be made as a part-timer, that success visited me.

When considering an assignment, I determine the minimum fee that's acceptable and don't budge. Last month, as an example, an MSC, for whom I've yet to complete any work, contacted me with a proposal; I responded with my fee requirement. The scheduler informed me that her company doesn't permit shoppers to set fees. I answered her statement by mentioning it was she who had contacted me. That terminated the exchange and I may never hear from those folks again; so be it!

In closing this reply, I'm reminded of a condition that once, and may still, existed to be considered for the MSPA SHOPPER OF THE YEAR award: A willingness to accept work, that one doesn't desire, for an MSC (a paraphrase). That removed me from the running. After all, this IS business and I attend to Bob's needs.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/25/2013 01:43PM by shopperbob.
shopperbob Wrote:
> After all, this IS business and I attend to Bob's needs.

Wise words, shopperbob, and ones I intend to "live by" in my MSC endeavors from here on out!

Now, "taking care of Birdy" may at times, and often does, involve doing low-fee restaurant shops so my DH & I can have a "free" or nearly so meal out once in awhile without the kiddies, or the whole family can dine out for far less than it usually costs (a dinner out for four has become mighty expensive these days, even at the most casual of family restaurants!).

Other times, taking care of "me" means being paid for my time in a way that doesn't cost me "opportunity" to make more money doing something else. I'm self employed, and when I'm slow, the "opportunity cost" off MS'ing is lower than when I'm busy.

And sometimes, when shops are bonused, it's very well worth my time--LOL!

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/25/2013 02:53PM by BirdyC.
Thanks for replying.

I like your last sentence and the second part of it should be attached to every computer monitor (just change the name).
I came here looking for just this specific topic: lack of responsiveness from Second to None. I've shopped for them for over two years, and in the last six months, the communication issue has begun to drive me away. No one responds to emails in a timely manner, there is no way to contact for urgent issues, the job board does not show all the shops available. I think I've had it with them.

On one particular shop, I discovered that I'd been made prior to the visit (had shopped them before and I was still in their database a year later.) I tried to get hold of a scheduler without success, so I canceled the shop. Three days later, and an equal number of emails on my part, I finally received a response of sorts. That is just one example of late. Others include extreme terseness in replies to my emails.

The other day, I tried applying for two insurance visits, and both applications said the agent had already been shopped. I only applied for the second agent because the first one's application wasn't accepted. So I wrote to the scheduler saying that I'd tried to apply for Agent A and Agent B, blah blah blah, could he help me. The next thing I get in my mail is from the scheduler who just randomly assigned those visits to me. I didn't want both visits, but now I'm stuck with them. I didn't ask to be assigned in my email, I just asked for help and was hoping that someone would write back and explain what was going on.

I know that taken one at a time this is all very superficial, but the complilation of incidents over the past few months shows a pattern of lack of concern for the shopper. They didn't use to be that way. Other MSCs respond so much more quickly, or there are phone numbers available for urgent issues. I wonder if it is just my scheduler. Should I come right out and ask what's going on?

If you use the Help Desk contact form, right there in the top of the comment box is this statement: We are committed to providing excellent support to our Evaluators. Complete the form below for an accurate and speedy response.

I don't think they understand the meaning of speedy.
Their shops in my area are lame, so I have yet to do one. They are always just reimbursement and no fee. Once, a sub shop was bonused (finally), so I applied for it, but didn't get it, probably because I had never done this shop when it wasn't bonused. Normally, it's just reimbursement for a specific meal and a few pennies to keep. I can get this for $4 at Subway (and one that I like) and not do a report. I've been so unmotivated to work for them. I haven't even checked the board in months. Might "fire" them instead. Good idea, Bob!
I've received responses quickly the few times I contacted them. But..I guess it would depend on what your question was as to whether someone can answer your question/s right away or not.
I have noticed a difference, not only in who my schedulers are, but also their responsiveness, over the past months. I heard from schedulers this past summer, that their compensation had changed. Basically, they would take a pay cut, barely making minimum wage for shops that were self-requested and assigned by shoppers. Additional compensation would only attach when schedulers assigned and assisted with date changes.

Depending on the client, it can take days for a scheduler to go through the hundreds of daily emails and assign shops to the shopper. Self-assign happens overnight. While I sympathicize with the schedulers, if I request through them for the sake of their paycheck, by the time they get to me, my requested shops are likely long gone. STN may have lost some schedulers over this.

If emails are not answered timely, STN will answer the phone during business hours. Their number is published. On their home page, under the Help tab, the last question is "How do I contact the scheduler?". A drop down appears, and schedulers' names, phone numbers, extensions and email addresses are listed.
Ah, well, this might explain why, after successfully doing around 30 shops for this company, I still have to request and be approved for each shop. There's, at most, only a 24-hour hour, lag time, so, if it means the scheduler makes more money, I can live with that.


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
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