Reimbursement disputes/shady schedulers

Guidelines for restaurant shops are usually very clear about where you should sit. Some are bar shops, some are dining room shops, and some require both. Taking a shop that requires a bar visit during the weekend can be risky. When I take one, I tend to arrive at the earliest possible time to allow the possibility of a seat at the bar.

I've never heard of a scheduler promising a shop without actually scheduling it. If it isn't scheduled officially, then it isn't scheduled.

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Shop guidelines are very specific in many cases and they are not suggestions. They are requirements. When you agree to perform a bar shop, you must perform a bar shop or you will not be paid or reimbursed. Bars are often busy, as lulalula says, and you may need to plan ahead ..... Or you may have to wait for an available spot. Some nights - like weekends - it may not be a good idea to commit to a bar shop.

Schedulers do not "hold" shops for a shopper. If a shop is available, it is usually scheduled to the first available shopper with a good track record. And, yes, many schedulers and editors do mystery shop. Also, yes, many ACL dining shops offer no fees, only reibursement, but they do post that information, so you know the payment terms before accepting the shop.

It's always a good idea to remember that the MSCs are our customers, not the other way around. Getting on your customer's asses because you think they are pulling bullshit often results in losing the customers. Why would customers put up with that?
If this is anything like the famous "Steak House" you MUST not sit in the dining room. You wait..and wait until a bar stool is open. I see you went into the dining room, (forbidden) and observed the bar (no-no) from your table. You can't possibly see if the bartender is pouring shots correctly, keeping the lower area clean, checking ID's, using chilled mugs for beer, etc.

Did you really read your guidelines?
I actually don't think that was bullshit on the part of ACL. If the instructions say you must sit at the bar then you must sit at the bar. If that means you leave and come back or (as I do) arrive at the earliest time permissible then that's what you have to do. I think this is something you learn with experience. If I have been really unsure in a circumstance then I have left the shop, gone home and emailed the scheduler and asked what I should do when I return.

The scheduler might have fully intended to give you the other shop but in the time it took you to finish the required shop to be eligible another scheduler may have scheduled the shop to someone else. It happens.

Really, you're just learning how the system works, don't burn your bridges with these companies.
@jpgilham wrote:

I actually don't think that was bullshit on the part of ACL. If the instructions say you must sit at the bar then you must sit at the bar. If that means you leave and come back or (as I do) arrive at the earliest time permissible then that's what you have to do. I think this is something you learn with experience. If I have been really unsure in a circumstance then I have left the shop, gone home and emailed the scheduler and asked what I should do when I return.

The scheduler might have fully intended to give you the other shop but in the time it took you to finish the required shop to be eligible another scheduler may have scheduled the shop to someone else. It happens.

Really, you're just learning how the system works, don't burn your bridges with these companies.

Very good response. I have learned to just not take on certain shops if the guidelines do not appear to be something that can be easily met. This is a great example, a required meal at the bar. If there is no option to sit at tables in the bar area, then the time frame for the visit becomes more important for me to assess. For some places, finding a table in the bar area is also very difficult during peak hours. Bar observations are easier than dining at the bar btw.

There is a local Famous Dave to me where the bar is in the open, across the back of the restaurant. It is not a popular bar, so I found it very conspicuous on a recent shop to have to leave my table and sit at the bar, a few feet away, for the required bar visit post meal. I will just not apply for that dinner shop again, though the lunch version does not require a bar visit (not the take-out) so I still have options.

I ran into almost the opposite situation as the OP. I was required to sit in the restaurant. I was taken to tables within the bar area. At that point I asked the hostess if these were regular tables, I did not want to rely on someone from the bar having to serve me. She assured me it was regular service. My out, if I had needed it, was I could have just said I did not want to sit near the bar and the extra noise/distractions.

My posts are solely based on my opinions and for my entertainment, contact a professional if you need real advice.

When you get in debt you become a slave. - Andrew Jackson
I've done tons of ACL bar shops.... To quote one of their guidelines from a previous bar shops I performed for them:

"At the Bar Shops: If you are scheduled for a bar shop, our client is paying us to find out what is going on AT the bar. We realize that sometimes bars are busy, and it’s hard and or near impossible to get a seat at the bar top immediately. However, let us repeat again, we are being paid (and you are being paid) to sit AT the bar in order to assess the operations at the bar. You must wait until a seat or area opens up at the bar and place an order with the bartender. If you are visiting on a Friday or Saturday evening, certainly your chance of having to wait is greater than if visiting on a Monday. This should be expected. You MUST wait at least 30 minutes for a bar seat to open up…it would be very rare for this not to happen during this time. Do not be impatient –please DO tell your guest, well before you get to the establishment, that you will need to wait for a seat at the bar if none are available upon arrival. Bartenders are used to serving people standing behind the seated patrons at the bar, so definitely get a drink and stand behind or to the side of the seated bar patrons, while waiting, so you blend in with the crowd. We cannot accept a bar shop if you do not sit belly up to the bar."

ACL, like other MSC's, do their best to accept shops with missed guidelines; however, from my experiences with ACL, they make it absolutely clear that if I'm performing a bar shop, I very damn well should be seated belly up to the bar for the shop.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 31 year old male and willing to travel!
So what we have here, apparently, is another newbie who does not read or does not follow very explicit instructions who comes here to bash a good company because they were not paid for a shop they essentially did not perform. The shop was not about sitting at a table, it was about sitting at the bar.

But it's all the "shady scheduler's" fault that OP was not paid.

whyuwannaknow, if you are going to mystery shop the first and most important, in fact the *only* thing you need to learn is to *follow instructions.* Every instruction, every detail in those shop guidelines, is there for a reason. This is the script for your mystery shop. In a way, mystery shopping is nothing but an acting job. The client is the producer. The MSC is the director. You are the actor. And you don't get to ad lib.

If your script is for "Cheers" and you decide to do a scene from "Friends" why would you expect to get paid? (Cheers takes place at a bar; Friends tend to hang out at a coffee house.)

Learn from your mistakes instead of blaming them on others and you'll get a lot further in this business.

Time to build a bigger bridge.
Those shop instructions are pretty explicit. Perhaps the OP didn't get the other shop because the scheduler felt he/she couldn't trust the shopper to perform it correctly either.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
@isaiah58 wrote:

I ran into almost the opposite situation as the OP. I was required to sit in the restaurant. I was taken to tables within the bar area. At that point I asked the hostess if these were regular tables, I did not want to rely on someone from the bar having to serve me. She assured me it was regular service. My out, if I had needed it, was I could have just said I did not want to sit near the bar and the extra noise/distractions.

That happens to me last night. The hostess wanted to seat us at one of the booths at the bar. I told her it was too noisy and will wait for a table in the dining room. We only waited 5 minutes.

No matter how odd the situation, follow the guideline and think fast on your feet. In the OP's situation, if nothing opens up in 20-30 minutes, I would leave, and re-schedule for a slower night.

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

~Polish Proverb~
whether the scheduler is right or wrong...if you argue with them you are gone...

being that you are new around here...and a rash of similar posts....i have to question if you are just trolling and playing games.
If have a problem with a scheduler, I let their boss know and discuss it with them. I have always had luck doing this. You won't get anywhere by making your scheduler mad.
@dspeakes wrote:

So what we have here, apparently, is another newbie who does not read or does not follow very explicit instructions who comes here to bash a good company because they were not paid for a shop they essentially did not perform. The shop was not about sitting at a table, it was about sitting at the bar.

But it's all the "shady scheduler's" fault that OP was not paid.

whyuwannaknow, if you are going to mystery shop the first and most important, in fact the *only* thing you need to learn is to *follow instructions.* Every instruction, every detail in those shop guidelines, is there for a reason. This is the script for your mystery shop. In a way, mystery shopping is nothing but an acting job. The client is the producer. The MSC is the director. You are the actor. And you don't get to ad lib.

If your script is for "Cheers" and you decide to do a scene from "Friends" why would you expect to get paid? (Cheers takes place at a bar; Friends tend to hang out at a coffee house.)

Learn from your mistakes instead of blaming them on others and you'll get a lot further in this business.

Perhaps some more "popcorn" would be in order here? "wink" smiling smiley
And a few more pointers: smiling smiley Unless your bar shop said to arrive after 6:00 p.m., most steak house bar visits, you can come there, as early as 4:45 p.m. (and I do, trust me, to get a bar stool)

If for some RARE reason there is no bar stool vacant (has not happened yet) but if this were the case, I would stand there "at" the bar and look like I needed a seat. You notice the guidelines say to wait near the bar. It says "You must wait for a seat or an "area" to open up at the bar" in which case, I would order a drink (or whatever the guidelines say) and stand at the bar, hoping I could get a seat. You only need one seat, well in my case. If you bring a friend, it would seem a little more difficult to find 2 seats at a very busy time at the bar" Just my humble opinion...
this may be a shop where a cane comes in handy....maybe someone would be nice and give up their seat if they think you have a disability...normally i would be against faking a disability...but in a case like this..when you've got a job to do...

kmart used to have you use one of their wheelchairs/carts and pretend you were disabled to get the job done..
@whyuwannaknow wrote:



And please, forward a copy of the report I submitted.

Regards
-----OF COURSE I DIDN'T GET A COPY OF MY REPORT


I'm confused about this part. Why would ACL need to forward you a copy of the report you submitted? Being an experienced shopper and having done over 100 shops with ACL, surely you know that you can easily save a copy of your report after submitting. I routinely save all mine. I have a copy filed on a flash drive of every report I've ever submitted to them.

Do you not save copies of any of your reports or was not saving a copy of this report just an oversight?

Sorry for your troubles. But this is a great company to work with and the schedulers still don't sound shady to me. And I don't understand the anger expressed at forum members for expressing their opinions and trying to help you figure out what went wrong. I think you are frustrated that you know you messed up a good thing.

But it sounds like a non-issue at this point. It does not sound like you will be working with them anymore and it doesn't sound like you want help or advice.
There is information you provided today that you didn't mention in your original post. Originally you "waited a bit" but didn't say how long that bit was or that the guidelines allowed you to sit at a table after 15 minutes. Why wouldn't you just provide a clear, concise picture in the beginning? So ACL was wrong and you were right, how does that justify getting on people's asses, both at the MSC and here on the forum? And with 100 shops under your belt why would you be so bound and determined to cut ties with ACL over one mistake?

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.
@whyuwannaknow wrote:

I figured you all would respond was you did. So here's some juice for you. Instead of admonishing me because you all "know it all", this was an email from the scheduler about the BAR shop:

Event Notes:
You must sit at the BAR TOP for this shop. If you arrive and there are no seats at the bar, please place your order with the bartender. If no seats open up within 15 minutes, you can then sit at a table close to the bar top. Please note this information in your report.
-----MY REPLY TO THE EMAIL FROM THE SCHEDULER WAS THIS:
Hello,

I will plan to go back to this location and take pictures of the table where we sat, which is indeed, adjacent to the bar. Video might be better if the lighting supports that method. Would you happen to have a layout of the pub?

And please, forward a copy of the report I submitted.

Regards
-----OF COURSE I DIDN'T GET A COPY OF MY REPORT


So anyway, as I posted already, we took the waitress up on her offer for a table, WHICH INDEED, was kiddie corner to the bar and I had view of the bartender. Soooooo, now what might you all have to offer as opinions? Oh, let me find the email about the "promised" shop and post it too.

This key information was missing from your original post. So of course when we reply, we'll have to speculate on the guidelines you were given based on our experiences (such as my experience with all bar shops I've done for ACL). The clients I shopped had clear guidelines of "BAR ONLY, OR GET REJECTED." This is obviously not the case for you.

Since your shop was still rejected, I believe you're in the RIGHT. Have you called your scheduler or ACL directly? It's not difficult to get a live person on the phone during business hours. If you haven't done already, take a breather, then compare the Event Notes with the actual Guideline side-by-side.

What exactly was the scheduler's email to you? Personally, you shouldn't've been obligated to even go back to the location to let ACL know where you sat. Since that's probably detailed in your initial report, presenting documentation would've been the next step. You quoted out the Event Notes, but how did that compare with the actual Guideline? If there was a conflict between the two, I'd read thoroughly to make sure there isn't some sort of statement on what supersedes the other (I'd imagine the Event Notes would supersede the Guidelines).

And no, ACL isn't obligated to send you a report you had an opportunity to save when you submitted it. Stupid, I know.

@whyuwannaknow wrote:

Now there you go. "SURELY", I know I can save reports huh? Well, let me burst your bubble on that. I have video of being unable to save the reports using the links on ACL's site. Is there a way to post videos on this forum? An editor tried that same crap you just tried UNTIL I put that video in her email. She had NOT a thing to say after that!

Again, I do not post about what I do not know. Hmph.

FYI, I know you plan to not shop for ACL again, but for other shoppers, I've had trouble saving PDF's of my submitted reports for ACL when I'm on Firefox and Chrome.

So I learned to just type up my report and everything on Chrome first, then log in to the site via Internet Explorer to save the report. Took me a report or two to figure this out.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 31 year old male and willing to travel!
@LisaSTL wrote:

There is information you provided today that you didn't mention in your original post. Originally you "waited a bit" but didn't say how long that bit was or that the guidelines allowed you to sit at a table after 15 minutes. Why wouldn't you just provide a clear, concise picture in the beginning? So ACL was wrong and you were right, how does that justify getting on people's asses, both at the MSC and here on the forum? And with 100 shops under your belt why would you be so bound and determined to cut ties with ACL over one mistake?

OP is far too good for all of us. Why are you bothering?

Note to self: a bit = 15 minutes.

I haven't seen too many fees for ACL over $20. I don't pay for my house and car with chicken wings. LOL
I'm confused why the OP needed the scheduler to assign a high end shop. I've done approximately 100 shops for ACL and I self-assign the high end and hotel shops.

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

~Polish Proverb~
@LisaSTL wrote:

There is information you provided today that you didn't mention in your original post. Originally you "waited a bit" but didn't say how long that bit was or that the guidelines allowed you to sit at a table after 15 minutes. Why wouldn't you just provide a clear, concise picture in the beginning? So ACL was wrong and you were right, how does that justify getting on people's asses, both at the MSC and here on the forum? And with 100 shops under your belt why would you be so bound and determined to cut ties with ACL over one mistake?

Be nice all.

When people are frustrated, sometimes they overlook what's needed to provide good feedback (numbers, detailed facts, quotes from guidelines, etc.). When there are some holes in a person's story (such as what did the guideline specifically say?), we can only speculate.

Now that we actually more facts presented, this can help us understand OP's situation more clearly. The board should be here to motivate, but also provide constructive criticism and suggestions. OP may have gotten off on the wrong foot, but he's detailed more to his story. The least we can do is provide more feedback, instead of ignoring it.

@SoCalMama wrote:

OP is far too good for all of us. Why are you bothering?

Note to self: a bit = 15 minutes.

I haven't seen too many fees for ACL over $20. I don't pay for my house and car with chicken wings. LOL

I don't pay for my house and car with chicken wings, but I'm able to save some money and time from grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, prepping, etc.

In some cases with ACL shops, I also have a decent place to eat once every 2-3 months with a nice "mountain" view, if you all know where I'm getting at.... grinning smiley

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 31 year old male and willing to travel!
@cubbiecat wrote:

I'm confused why the OP needed the scheduler to assign a high end shop. I've done approximately 100 shops for ACL and I self-assign the high end and hotel shops.

It may very well be the result of the shop he got rejected. When that happens, ACL puts some kind of restriction, where the shopper will need approval from a scheduler first.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 31 year old male and willing to travel!
@SoCalMama wrote:

Note to self: a bit = 15 minutes.

Right. Based on trying to justify their actions with the wait staff's invitations it would seem clear that OP did not wait the required 15 minutes. Still I don't know that I would have reacted much differently to that invitation. Finding a seat at a busy bar is the one thing I hate about restaurant/bar shops so I feel for the OP, or at least I did before they decided to go off on the forum.
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