Sentry Marketing

I just did my first shop for them and it was awful, low pay, long long ways away and I had to do a certification test for a burger joint that paid $4.00, and then it had this ridiculously long narrative and form which took me about 2 hours to do, and then I get an email saying it was rejected because my narrative describing the way my burger tasted just wasn't descriptive enough and that they really wanted to to taste it through my words. I will finish this shop because I am a professional but the price of my words to taste anything just went up a lot.Now before people think I am an idiot to travel 122 miles for a free burger plus $4.00 I had 3 MSC shops in the area that day to shop the and fiqured I would get free food. Boy what a joke, never worked so hard for food ever.

Shopping til' I drop, no joke here!


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/17/2015 08:44AM by aprilredbird.

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You had the exact same experience as I did April, thought I did not have the long travel. "Never again" was the only thing I took away from this assignment.

proudly shopping in the D.
aprilredbird, I agree that shop doesn't pay a lot but you knew that going in. I agree 122 miles is a long trip but you picked this shop up for the "free" meal because you were going to be in the area anyway. Since you were aware of the fee and the mileage going in, there should be no complaints about Sentry on those issues.

Yes, their food shops require a lot of narrative. You can get the time down considerably as you gain experience. Yes, their editors are really tough. I've been doing one particular fast casual for some years and I still get the bounce backs now and then. It's always some dumb mistake I made or some "no" comment I omitted. Actually, I'm surprised they still put up with me. I have another one at lunch today and I'll give it my best shot.

Here's the deal on shops we don't like. There's no point in berating the company because we are not a good fit for one of their shops. If we do one and it's not for us, we're free to move on to something else. We don't have to accept any future shops from them. If you're not willing to learn to do that particular shop for the fee and reimbursement offered, someone else will do it.

What you've actually told us in your post about Sentry is that you were disappointed in how the report went, that you got bogged down and it took you two hours. Those reports do not take that long once you catch on to them. It's up to you to make it work and it's no reflection on the MSC if you don't want to put in the effort to learn to do the shop efficiently.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
I didn't see where April said anything negative about the MSC. She points out the that the report is ridiculously long (it is), and that the compensation (in her opinion) is ridiculously low for the amount of detail they request in the reports (I agree).

proudly shopping in the D.
Actually, she started off by saying that she did a shop and it was "Awful". She then complained about the distance she traveled and the certification required, as well as the time it took to complete the report.

You could say it was the most work vs. payoff of all shops performed that day and that would probably sound more objective. The travel is really not pertinent since you were traveling for the other shops anyway.

If you had completed one of the burger shops previously, you would not have to deal with certification, probably not have it returned to you since you had a better understanding of the writing requirements, and probably not spent a whole 2 hours on it. If you spent 90 minutes on an assignment that netted you $4 and a free lunch, would you start a new thread to complain about how terrible the assignment was? I can think of burger shops for 4 or 5 other companies of a similar quality that would be about the same work vs. payoff.
aprilredbird – A word of advice is to always take into account the time it'll take you to drive and commute to the location when signing up for a shop. I sign up for this locations near me all the time (especially the take-out shops) because I like the food and make it a quick lunch without having to drive an unreasonable distance to make the shop worth it for me.

Keep in mind that many companies that ask for a narrative for taste, try to always aim for the following: temperature, texture, flavor. Take those three factors and analyze each ingredient, then take a step back and analyze the item as a whole. Doing this will easily be acceptable for basically all narrative-heavy food shops.

For this shop, Sentry looks for a step-by-step walk-through of your service at the store. After-which, it's analyzing the items you received, the team members and the cleanliness of the store. Once you have this ind-set, the awareness and writing skills you pick up translates to basically any narrative-heavy shop you take on.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 29 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
@Tarantado wrote:


For this shop, Sentry looks for a step-by-step walk-through of your service at the store. After-which, it's analyzing the items you received, the team members and the cleanliness of the store. Once you have this ind-set, the awareness and writing skills you pick up translates to basically any narrative-heavy shop you take on.

There are some reasonable expectations for a fast food shop that reimburses and pays $4. Regardless of first time need for learning the guidelines and certification and such, this shop in the 'normal course of things' should probably take 15 to 30 minutes to write up maximum. Is this what you are experiencing MDavisnowell and Tarantado?
Hi Steve,
I'm going to delicately disagree with you:

@SteveSoCal wrote:

Actually, she started off by saying that she did a shop and it was "Awful". She then complained about the distance she traveled and the certification required, as well as the time it took to complete the report.

You could say it was the most work vs. payoff of all shops performed that day and that would probably sound more objective. The travel is really not pertinent since you were traveling for the other shops anyway.

Sure, she could have said that. And if the forum had hired her to mystery shop the Sentry Mystery Shop, then that's what we would expect from her. But this is a forum for Mystery Shoppers to discuss their assignments, get tips and even vent a little about the crap jobs (whether they're crappy because of circumstances, some mistake on our part, inexperience, or actual, crappy shops with bad guidelines).

Her shop does sound awful to me. If she had been stuck in traffic on the way due to a 10 car pile up on the freeway that would be awful too. I'm capable of separating her frustration about the long hours and short reimbursement from her laying of all the blame on the doorstep of the MSC.

In this case, however, it seems she does have some objective information about the shop and requirements. I've never shopped for Sentry before. It's helpful to me to know that the quick casual reports are long and that the company wants to "taste the food through your words" (which frankly sounds a bit creepy and weird, but whatever). It lead to a confirmation from some other seasoned shoppers that indeed the Sentry reports are long for the type of shop and the compensation. This was a helpful discussion (at least for me). I understand the impulse to explain to the shopper what she did wrong and why she shouldn't vent about the job she disliked, but I'd rather people weren't dissuaded from sharing their experiences. I want to hear them all...the good, the bad, and the screw ups. And in exchange, I'll lay out all my screw ups so that people can learn from them, too.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
The outlet is not fast food, however. It's an upscale burger experience. Fast food is about timing and being extremely affordable. This client is part of the recent wave of restaurants that charge a higher fee for quality food.

Goodwin offers a very similar shop with a computer to the Sentry client. It reimburses $18 total, which includes the shop fee, and it cost me $16 on my last visit. The Goodwin report took me 90 minutes to complete, yet I don't see people making complaints about it only offering a $2 fee and taking 90 minutes. Why is that?

ACL also has similar assignments that pay nothing and take well over an hour to report.
I agree aprilredbird had an unacceptable to her experience. Not all shops work out for all shoppers. I agree the editors are tough. I am the first to agree the report is long.

Please consider that the report can be printed out and inspected prior to the shop so I do not see an issue with the length of the report. It is not secret or surprise information and if the shopper finds the report unacceptable the shop can be cancelled.

In answer to Flash, no, I cannot do that report justice in under thirty minutes. I decide if I'm willing to do it for the money offered (which may be at base fee or bonused) and the food allowed to be ordered. I have no complaints whatsoever because I have done the shop in the past, I can print and read the report in advance, and I am free to say no.

I suspect what may have happened is that aprilredbird did not look at the report prior to the shop and expected it to be a report similar to some other fast food reports we deal with. I believe because of that she got caught up in a situation where she created her own surprise. I've done that and been unhappy but saw no reason to blame the company.

I am not defending and recommending this shop. I am saying the company is straightforward about the requirements and failure to look at the report ahead of time is not their failure.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
@CaliGirl925 wrote:

In this case, however, it seems she does have some objective information about the shop and requirements.

Sorry, we cross-posted before so my response above was to Flash.

I'm just trying to point that the thread was not saying, "I find X-burger shops too difficult for what they pay." It was specifically directed at the company for offering a poor experience, when as pointed out above, there are very similar experiences with other companies and the requirements are very clear BEFORE you accept the assignment.

If a shopper had posted 4 different shops handled on their 122 mile trip, pointed out the fee and workload of each, then they could say that they have learned a lesson not to take the fast-casual assignments in a group, or that they payoff was not as good as other shops. It sounds like the shopper just doesn't like these type of shops and is blaming the MSC.
See? I'm learning even more about the type of job it is, what other shops it can be compared to, and what the expectation of the report is. All helpful information for shoppers unfamiliar with this shop. I'm glad this thread was started and wouldn't want to discourage people from posting.

I've noticed a broader tendency on this board (not you specifically, by any means) to immediately remind people who complain about shops that they are ICs and are capable of choosing their own shops. I feel like we all know that. The value of this forum for me is in gaining experience by osmosis through reading other people's stories about the shops they take.

I just don't want people to stop posting their experiences because they feel like they don't get a sympathetic ear. You've been here longer than I have, so maybe you just want newbies to stop @#$%& so much. I understand we might have contradictory goals as pertains to the use of this forum, and I'm OK with that. I just wanted to add a voice of support for the OP and to say that I value the discussion that came out of it.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
Understood, CaliGirl925

I don't want to stifle posters, but we shoppers are supposed to be known for our objectivity, so I would like to encourage posts that address the specific issues with shops or MSCs, rather than calling a company a joke.

There are numerous threads already about the amount of work required for the burger shops. The OP probably would have gotten a more sympathetic ear from me if adding an opinion to one of those.
@Flash wrote:

There are some reasonable expectations for a fast food shop that reimburses and pays $4. Regardless of first time need for learning the guidelines and certification and such, this shop in the 'normal course of things' should probably take 15 to 30 minutes to write up maximum. Is this what you are experiencing MDavisnowell and Tarantado?

Yes, ma'am. Ever since Sentry shortened the report, they actually removed any and all redundancy from it for this particular client. Then with the other fast-casual clients they have, they pay about double for more narrative-type questions.

In regards to the report writing, I can finish it in around 15-30 minutes, as you stated. In regards to the site visit, the phone call takes about two minutes at most. The site visit for dine-in has a minimum 20 minute. Unless I'm in a rush, I typically take around 25-30 minutes total. For the take-out versions of the shop, I leave as soon as I receive my food, which is why I prefer this one more. At most, I'm at the location for about 10 minutes.

@CaliGirl925 wrote:

See? I'm learning even more about the type of job it is, what other shops it can be compared to, and what the expectation of the report is. All helpful information for shoppers unfamiliar with this shop. I'm glad this thread was started and wouldn't want to discourage people from posting.

I've noticed a broader tendency on this board (not you specifically, by any means) to immediately remind people who complain about shops that they are ICs and are capable of choosing their own shops. I feel like we all know that. The value of this forum for me is in gaining experience by osmosis through reading other people's stories about the shops they take.

I just don't want people to stop posting their experiences because they feel like they don't get a sympathetic ear. You've been here longer than I have, so maybe you just want newbies to stop @#$%& so much. I understand we might have contradictory goals as pertains to the use of this forum, and I'm OK with that. I just wanted to add a voice of support for the OP and to say that I value the discussion that came out of it.

CaliGirl925 – I would say this particular client for Sentry is a good starter shop for shoppers to become adjusted to what a typical narrative-heavy food shop looks like:

1. Narrative on service and phone call.
2. Narrative on cleanliness or stock of store.
3. Narrative on associates.
4. Narrative on items ordered.

What I like is that they removed the redundant questions like, "Provide your overall experience," or repeating the same question over and over. And they also removed subjective questions like, "What did you like most / least?" or "Would you recommend the restaurant?"

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 29 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
I for one appreciate OP's thread and CaliGirl925 posts because I learned a lot about a shop I have never done before, or an MSC I have not done a shop for. These types of thread are information laden and I, as an IC, value more for their 'I never promised you a rose garden' reality. It gave me two sides of a coin. Should I take it or should I not? If in doubt, go to Mystery Shopping Forum...
For those that think the OP has made an informative post, you may want to look at the other posts made since they joined the forum a few weeks ago. She describes Trendsource shops shops as being "narrative heavy" and called them terrible. She has had problems with GFK and Bestmark as well. I haven't read anything but controversial and negative posts, peppered with some extremely prejudiced comments about each of the companies and their staff.

Clearly this is someone who does not like writing narrative, taking on an admittedly narrative heavy shop and also admitting that she took the shop hoping to get some "free food".

If anyone wants to get the information about this particular shop, you can go to the Sentry site, see examples and even take a test that makes sure you understand the requirements of the shop. Wouldn't that be the best way to learn about the shop?
If you're signed up with Sentry and are interested in doing that shop, then yes, that would be an excellent way to get information about that shop. If you're not signed up with Sentry and are interested in learning what kinds of shops they have, then no, that approach will not work.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
You probably need to stick with Market Force if you don't like narrative. I do agree that for Sentry, Coyle and A-Closer-Look, the reports are very narrative heavy. Coyle pays a decent shop fee, usually. If you hang on long enough, ACL will add a bonus, I've done some with a decent bonus. I haven't done any Sentry shops in a long time but they were narrative heavy for the pay, though I think they offered bonuses sometimes, but I don't remember.

As for that $4 burger shop... I did that shop once a long time ago. I didn't really like their burger but I did really like their fries!
Well, we are talking about Sentry and this particular shop. I don't understand why anyone would spend time to investigate a new member's posts when we are discussing this particular thread. And going to Sentry to check on a shop mentioned here because I don't believe the OP, I don't operate that way. It is sad if others do that.

I am talking about this thread and I am not about to check on her other threads. Geez...Toggle her if you want. If she doesn't like narratives, and other posters say it is so, why shouldn't I believe her. I like narratives but I've seen all the other negatives of the shop, foremost of all the low fee, so, no way will I do that shop. I don't have to go to Sentry website or check on the OP's other posts. I have other fish to fry. This is a free forum. Some would agree with you and some would not. There is no reason to campaign on discrediting any poster. Please give it a rest.
These do get easier as time goes on, much easier. I was "lucky" to cut my teeth on them when they paid a little more and remember wondering what I got myself into. Now, it's easy peasy. If you keep at it, I promise it'll get faster and much more like second nature to you. If not...there's plenty of lesser narrative reports out there to keep you plenty busy. Good luck!

Doing what I can to enhance the life of my family! I LOVE what I do smiling smiley
Just got home from my FTJ. First of all Steve, I still don't see how the OP said anything bad about the mystery shopping company. She stated the shop was in her opinion more work than it was worth for the amount of compensation. This is an opinion I share, so I agreed with her. I admire that she is trying to supply the MSC with the extra narrative. When she used the term "joke", I took at as a direct reference to this particular shop, not the mystery shopping company. If you care to go back and research my previous posts, you may be able to find other messages where I have stated I don't care for this particular shop. You will also find postings where I stated I thought Sentry was a good company overall, and I have done several shops for them in the past where I thought the compensation was in line with the experience. Perhaps April could have used a better title for her thread, but to me that is a minor foul.

My final comment on this is I think CaliGirl925 has a bright future in the state department should she choose to pursue it. Very diplomatic postings and it would be nice to see more of that on this forum.

proudly shopping in the D.
@SteveSoCal wrote:

For those that think the OP has made an informative post, you may want to look at the other posts made since they joined the forum a few weeks ago. She describes Trendsource shops shops as being "narrative heavy" and called them terrible. She has had problems with GFK and Bestmark as well. I haven't read anything but controversial and negative posts, peppered with some extremely prejudiced comments about each of the companies and their staff.

You know, I'm usually a happy reader when SteveSoCal posts because he knows a lot about lifestyle enhancement through mystery shopping. I like reading those lifestyle enhancement posts.

Not so much when I read the comments on Sentry. Any time someone makes a comment that might be viewed as not positive about Sentry, Steve rides to the rescue. I would have to be on a company's payroll to be that loyal and that oversensitive to any mild criticism. If someone bashes a MSC that is one of your favorites, I understand putting them in their place and even discrediting them. But, hey, give me a break, can no one even say "way too much work for way too little money?"

So the OP has complained about GFK, TrendSource, and Bestmark. Do you plan to comment on those threads as well, or is it only Sentry that you defend? It's a little petty for a seasoned shopper to be picking on a newbie when her comments have actually been pretty mild. There's no bashing here.

Check out my past posts. They have not been negative. I have not had problems with any MSC, including Sentry. And I have no problem with narratives. I regularly take narrative-heavy shops. I don't dislike Sentry, but I find Sentry to be way too much work for way too little money.
Had aprilredbird posted regarding the client as opposed to the MSC, undoubtedly there would have been requests for the name of the MSC. No win. I did not look at the post as a put-down of the MSC, but rather the shop itself. Useful information to shoppers making a decision whether to bite or not.

No need to circle the wagons.
I agree with Mert that the OP's focus was on the length of the report rather than on any problem with the MSC. I'm certain I'm one of those forum members who could be kinder to newer shoppers who post with problems and I'm going to try to be more understanding in the future. At the same time, I hope I'll be able to tactfully comment on one or two solutions which may be helpful in addressing the issues.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
I agree with PaulinMI, CaliGIrl is a breath of fresh air. I see a combination of social skills, diplomacy and gentleness. Welcome!!


@PaulinMI wrote:

My final comment on this is I think CaliGirl925 has a bright future in the state department should she choose to pursue it. Very diplomatic postings and it would be nice to see more of that on this forum.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
I am an experienced shopper and have done hundreds of restaurant shops from fast food to high end. The $4 sentry burger shops are far and away, without a doubt, the least lucrative and biggest waste of time shops I have ever done. I can make between 5 and 40 dollars on a FF shop with Marketforce and the report takes less than half the time. But if a long, narrative-heavy report for $4 is your cup of tea, then have at it! I certainly won't be taking any of the opportunities away from you in my market.
@MDavisnowell wrote:

I agree with PaulinMI, CaliGIrl is a breath of fresh air. I see a combination of social skills, diplomacy and gentleness. Welcome!!


@PaulinMI wrote:

My final comment on this is I think CaliGirl925 has a bright future in the state department should she choose to pursue it. Very diplomatic postings and it would be nice to see more of that on this forum.

You guys need to come and tell my family how diplomatic I am, they'd laugh you out of the room! grinning smiley
But thanks, this made my day!

Shopper in California's Bay Area
For clarity, this shop report was returned for revision and not rejected. Also, our editor did not use the phrase "taste the food through your words. With regard to the food and beverage description, this is what was provided to the shopper:

2. In the Food & Beverage descriptions, please add more details on your Main Item (NAME OF ITEM REMOVED) and the beverage you ordered (Sprite). The reader should be able to visualize each item from reading your description. Comment on the presentation (type of serving dish, garnish, and visible ingredients), portion size, temperature and quality of each item. Exclude all opinions, such as “good” and “delicious.” The reader should not be able to tell whether or not you liked an item. Read the samples written in blue form

Thanks

Dave


@CaliGirl925 wrote:

Hi Steve,
I'm going to delicately disagree with you:

@SteveSoCal wrote:

Actually, she started off by saying that she did a shop and it was "Awful". She then complained about the distance she traveled and the certification required, as well as the time it took to complete the report.

You could say it was the most work vs. payoff of all shops performed that day and that would probably sound more objective. The travel is really not pertinent since you were traveling for the other shops anyway.

Sure, she could have said that. And if the forum had hired her to mystery shop the Sentry Mystery Shop, then that's what we would expect from her. But this is a forum for Mystery Shoppers to discuss their assignments, get tips and even vent a little about the crap jobs (whether they're crappy because of circumstances, some mistake on our part, inexperience, or actual, crappy shops with bad guidelines).

Her shop does sound awful to me. If she had been stuck in traffic on the way due to a 10 car pile up on the freeway that would be awful too. I'm capable of separating her frustration about the long hours and short reimbursement from her laying of all the blame on the doorstep of the MSC.

In this case, however, it seems she does have some objective information about the shop and requirements. I've never shopped for Sentry before. It's helpful to me to know that the quick casual reports are long and that the company wants to "taste the food through your words" (which frankly sounds a bit creepy and weird, but whatever). It lead to a confirmation from some other seasoned shoppers that indeed the Sentry reports are long for the type of shop and the compensation. This was a helpful discussion (at least for me). I understand the impulse to explain to the shopper what she did wrong and why she shouldn't vent about the job she disliked, but I'd rather people weren't dissuaded from sharing their experiences. I want to hear them all...the good, the bad, and the screw ups. And in exchange, I'll lay out all my screw ups so that people can learn from them, too.
There's a reason I don't do restaurant shops that require narrative.

The burger tasted like a burger. The bun tasted like bread. The cheese tasted like cheese. The lettuce tasted like lettuce. The tomatoes tasted like crap because that's what tomatoes taste like to me........

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
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