First (and possibly last) Problem with EPMS

Hi all,

I've encountered my first issue with EPMS. I've been with them for almost 4 years and done nearly 75 shops with them, all excellent. I would like some honest (and not snarky) feedback from anyone/everyone who cares to comment, about who you think is in the wrong with this: I accepted an apartment assignment for them with a target. Instructions specify that if I arrive at the community and get passed off to another leasing agent, try to wait for the target, but if after a while target is not there, shop the person I am passed off to. Got the target on the phone. Set the appointment. Target tells me she won't be there, but I will meet with one of two other people. Nowhere in the instructions from EPMS is it said that I should not accept another leasing agent on the phone. Nowhere in the instructions is it said that I should reschedule for when the target is there. Nowhere. I am absolutely sure about that. EPMS cancelled my shop today without pay saying that I didn't follow the instructions because I knew the target wouldn't be there, but I went anyway. They never specified what I should do in this situation. If I'm in the wrong, then I'll be the first to admit it, but based on their instructions, (and lack of instructions) I did what I was supposed to do.

What say you?

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If you are soliciting honest opinions, I'll give it a whirl. In my honest opinion you provided the answer when you stated, "Instructions specify that if I arrive at the community and get passed off to another leasing agent, try to wait for the target, but if after a while target is not there, shop the person I am passed off to." The main purpose of the shop was to measure the skills of the target. The MSC provided an option if you arrived for the appointment and the target had skated out.

Since you were not at the property, but were home, setting the appointment, I honestly believe you should have rescheduled the appointment to a date/time when the target would be available. I think you should graciously admit that you were wrong, matyglenn

(heart)

I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
PS
This better not be one of those trick postings, where you ask for advice and then argue with everyone who disagrees with you. smiling smiley

(heart)

I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
I don't post trick postings, and I don't play games. I have no intentions of arguing with anyone. I want to know what people think. Thank you for your comment.
matyglenn, I confess, my second post was meant in the spirit of fun, since there have been posters (including me, I'm sure), who start off asking for advice, when all they really want to do is to vent.

(heart)

I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
I'm sorry, Matyglenn, but I believe it was your mistake this time.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
The instructions were clear on what to do if they pass you off after you arrive because you are expected to make an appointment with the target. After you have done that it is out of your control.

My biggest complaint is they do not provide the schedule of the target. I reached one and we set an appointment for the following day. As we were getting off the phone she told another agent would meet me as she only worked Wednesdays and Saturdays. I contacted Ellis asking how they preferred it be handled. I "missed" my appointment, contacted the target on Saturday and met with her the following Wednesday. Obviously, if they had provided her workdays one of two things could have happened, I may have been able to reach her early enough to visit the same day as the call and if not could have requested a Saturday appointment.

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.
This doesn't answer your question but I think I would have contacted the MSC once I was off the phone and asked for advice. Doesn't help you much, I know, as it is easy to be an armchair quarterback, especially in hindsight.
Hi BillBryaninCarthage, Thanks for your comment. I think you misread what I wrote. My issue wasn't that I did or did not visit the location. My issue is the fact that the MSC did not specify in their instructions that I should NOT go if the target told me she wasn't going to be there.

Keep 'em coming yawl!
I have had many situations like yours too, when I had knowledge from my target that they will not be assisting me when I arrive. While you are right in stating the instructions do not specify for this word for word scenario, we both know that there would have been no way for you to be passed off upon arrival, which was allowed in the instructions, because the 'pass off', already happened over the phone.

When this has happened to me over the phone, where I indeed knew I was going to be passed off, or had a good idea it would happen, because I was talking to a manager and they kept saying: "my staff will be here to assist you", or something similar, I have done a couple of things. Sometimes I try to get their schedule, telling them how comfortable I was with them, and ask if they work everyday or state I would rather speak with them because I hate starting over with someone else, etc. That has worked sometimes and they will say they will be here on this or that day. Other times I have called the office or emailed and told them and they have let me try to pop in on another day when that target answers the phone, so I can try to get them on-site, or get a legitimate pass off. They have added a bonus for the extra time spent to complete the shop. And sometimes the scheduler has just paid me for the telephone call and did not ask me to go.

I think the fact that you knew in advance there was no chance to shop the same person on-site and did not seek advice was it. And there are other general instructions that say we have to try every effort to shop the same person. Knowing already they would not be there means no effort was made at all. I know this does not feel good, but it was a mistake and you will never do it again!
The instructions could have been written better although by giving it thought, you can see that you are to set your appointment with the target and attempt to keep the appointment with the target. Therefore, if the target isn't going to be there, you can miss the appointment. I've used the ploy that, "An acquaintance of mine from church recommended you." If they press for a name, use something common [Bill, Joe, Jane, Sue, etc.] and feign not knowing their last name. That's why I say "acquaintance" rather than "friend", because you know your friend's last names.

The instructions say, "If I arrive at the community and get passed off to another leasing agent, try to wait for the target..." If you know the target is not going to be there because they've told you it's their day off, then you cannot wait for the target to show on that day.

.
Have PV-500 & willing to travel.
"Answers are easy. It's asking the right questions which is hard." (The Fourth Doctor, The Face of Evil, 1977)

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I would have contacted the scheduler for clarification I guess. It's hard with targeted shops!! If not that, I would have called back to reschedule??
Thanks everyone! I appreciate your helpful comments. I can see EPMS's point, and I should have rescheduled for when the target was going to be there, but having never encountered that situation in all the years I've been mystery shopping, it never occurred to me to contact EPMS. I do still contend that their instructions should be more exact for a situation like that, and not implied.

Yawl have been helpful and I'll know better next time! I actually have a shop with them today. HA!
I applaud your humility. Good luck on your shop today.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
During the phone call, I always confirm that since I've already met you (the target) on the phone I really want to meet with you and not someone else. Yyou already know what to help me with. Will YOU be there?
THEN, if the person has confirmed they will be there and they are not, that's when you are allowed to accept another person when you make the visit.

sail2sunset
Delray Beach FL
I quit shopping for them a while ago....it was just too much to get the "target"...and they are WAY too much work to not get paid for.....
I had a slightly different situation in that I had a non-targeted shop. When I made the phone call, the person that I spoke to had made the appointment on my scheduled shop date to visit the apartment complex, but she told me that I would be meeting with a different person. Because the shop was non-targeted, I thought it was okay to meet with a different person than the person I spoke with. After spending hours on the report, I find out the next day that my shop was rejected because I did not shop the target person. I told EPMS that the shop was non-targeted and the person that I spoke to was not going to be there on the day of my scheduled shop. However, EPMS told me that I was supposed to shop the person I spoke to. I pleaded and pleaded with them, I finally gave up on pleading my case with EPMS. I have not shopped with them since.
I cry foul EPMS! Your guidelines need to be more explicit. Example, "Although this is a non-targeted shop, you must meet with the agent with whom you made the phone appointment or your shop will be invalidated."

(heart)

I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
While I understand your frustration, again, this was a case of foreknowledge, in that you knew in advance you would not get to meet with the phone agent on-site. If I cannot find out when that person will actually be there without sounding obvious, I have let EPMS know what was happening. They have usually extended my due date if necessary and told me to anonymously call until that person answers again or even have given me permission to ask for them on another day. If they happened to answer without me asking for them, EPMS has advised me to make an excuse to get off the phone and then pop in and ask for them. When these attempts over the phone have failed, sometimes they let me shop whoever was on-site. Every once in a while they have canceled the shop but paid me for the phone call/attempts.
I hear you 56cactus! I understand that they want you to shop 'the elusive target'. However, my problem with them is that they needed to spell out in words what a shopper should do if they encounter certain situations. That was the issue I had, and they just did NOT want to admit that it's nowhere in writing in their shopper documents. I still work with them, because they do have good paying apartment shops. But I'm extremely careful with them now.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/31/2014 09:41PM by matyglenn.
"Target tells me she won't be there, but I will meet with one of two other people."

That right there would have had me calling the MSC and find out what to do next...

They are really strict on that specific target being shopped. smiling smiley
Epms does give a phone number to contact them if you have a problem and they always answer there phone during normal business hours. The instructions do state you have to meet with the target agent. If the target agent is not there then you can not do the shop. Epms will always extend the date when you contact them with problems when you tell them what is going on.
My experience....

I have worked more than 10 years for EPMS - in Texas and now in Florida. Sometimes you think you covered all the bases but missed something. Then you get zip for pay. It's useless to fight them. The loopholes always belong to them.

I shopped once at the end of the month and connected to the target. Since one cannot go to the site after 4 PM and I had hung up the phone at 1 PM, I went to perform the shop. There is a rule that you must speak on the phone and perform the shop the same day. I was in the wrong.

No pay for me. There was another rule that stated there had to be a 4-hour wait between the phone call and visit. Huh? I thought this was a rush shop for end-of-month.

I now ONLY accept "shop ANYONE" gigs. It's just not worth spending the time faking my voice, filling out the report and losing hours of work performing the shop only to lose the pay.

sail2sunset
Delray Beach FL
I have also been told on the phone that someone else will be doing the actual presentation. What I do in this case is update this information to Ellis, with a "please advise." The scheduler or someone else has always gotten back to me and told me whether I can go or not. I don't think they denied you pay because you shopped someone else, but because you didn't ask for permission. I have also called directly to the office and asked, if I don't get an answer via email fast enough. Hope this helps.
While I wrote off EPMS years ago for reasons just like the ones you and other posters describe, I do think that you were in the wrong. Sorry you won't get paid--I remember how long and arduous those reports are. I feel for ya.
You did the right thing. Ellis is seldom available 'on the spot' for instructions. I hope you were treated as such. I loved doing apartment shops, but had a hard time with Ellis's deadlines. Deadlines often depended upon reaching the correct leasing agent by phone. If I couldn't reach the agent for several days, I had to get an extension on the shop. A list of extensions looks bad.

It became a strained relationship.
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