EPMS refuses to pay

I have shopped for EPMS several times over the past 2 or 3 years. I won't go into previous frustrations and problems with them, just the latest.

I was doing a $75 shop for them. I called the location, spoke to my target, asked her when I could come by, she told me til 7 that day, and the next couple of days.

As per instructions I went to the complex that same day. Only when I mentioned I had spoken with her, I was told she already went home.

As per ALL EPMS instructions, I had to continue the shop with the agent who was there. I went home, filled out my report, and waited.

A week or so later I was informed I would not be paid because I failed to shop the target and hadn't made an appointment with her.

You're not supposed to make an appointment unless the shop instructions specifically say to. This has always been the rule. So I followed the instructions completely, to the letter.

I've called EPMS several times. I emailed a response to my shop agent about why I should be paid. I've been completely ignored. No one ever answers the phone and they don't return calls.

I feel I have been completely cheated, and this isn't the first time with this company. I'm really angry.

EPMS claims that since their client won't pay them they 'can't' pay me. This is wrong. My contract is with EPMS and if I follow their instructions, my part of the deal is done.

Any advice on what I can do, who I can call? I'm tired of their frivolous and dishonest policies and tired of them treating workers unfairly.

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First question, did the target invite you to the community or did you ask when you could "come by?"

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.
I don't remember whether she invited me first but I did ask when I could come by because I needed to know what time they were open.
Was it a recorded call? Not all of their shop instructions are identical. Most I've seen do say to give them every opportunity to invite you or attempt an appointment before asking. Honestly, I never noticed if they say you can't make an appointment. I always make one anyway because it is usually not possible for me to visit the same day.

Try calling them at 972-256-3767. They are on central time and open 8:30 to 5:30.

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.
It was a recorded call, yes, but I don't think I still have it saved.
Standard shop instructions are to not make an appointment, and frequently they also say "if the agent wants to make an appointment, arrive a few minutes early or late." The shops I have had always say not to make an appointment unless the shop specific instructions say to. In most cases they don't want the agent prepared like that, but want to make sure the agent is on site and ready to receive guests at all times.

So the most I could do is ask what times I can come by.

Unfortunately I have tried that number several times, no one ever answers. I leave a message. They called back once and I explained the issue. They haven't called back again or answered or replied to any messages.
I looked at my instructions for a current shop and they do say not to make an appointment. Since that never works with my schedule, I always make one. I've only visited the same day as the call once or twice when the complexes were in my neighborhood. Usually my days are too booked. Plus if I get a hold of a target at 2 or 3 in the afternoon I'm not running out for just the one shop plus getting stuck in traffic late in the afternoon.

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.
Do the instructions say you should call the property to ensure the target is there before you actually go there? I've done a lot of their shops so I could be mixing them up with another MSC. If memory serves correctly (it would be a first) It seems that clause is generally included on targeted shops.

Shopping up and down the Colorado Rocky Mountain front range.
I don't see how you didn't technically complete the contract. You called the same day, spoke to the target and asked for her when you got there. She could have had an emergency and left shortly before you arrived.

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.
if you just asked when you can 'come by' that could mean come by when anyone is there..not necessarily the target...
Ok, guys, I did the shop right. There's not any question of that. I was not supposed to make an appointment, so asking when can I come by is the most I could do. I'm not looking for possible reasons it was rejected. I know I followed their instructions.

What I need advice/help on is how to pursue a mystery shopping group that is refusing to pay.
EPMS requires you to verify that the person is there if you do the visit on a different day than the phone call. You are supposed to call that same day and simply confirm that they are there. It seems like you told them that you woke up the next day, didn't make the call, and just went to the community. That is grounds for refusing to pay.
The OP visited the same day as the call so they have no grounds to refuse the pay.

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.
@arianamorris wrote:


As per instructions I went to the complex that same day. Only when I mentioned I had spoken with her, I was told she already went home.

As per ALL EPMS instructions, I had to continue the shop with the agent who was there. I went home, filled out my report, and waited.
.
@AnonymousGirl wrote:

EPMS requires you to verify that the person is there if you do the visit on a different day than the phone call. You are supposed to call that same day and simply confirm that they are there. It seems like you told them that you woke up the next day, didn't make the call, and just went to the community. That is grounds for refusing to pay.

Why contribute to a thread you haven't read only to answer a question that hasn't been asked?

This is an issue every mystery shopper will probably face at some point-- especially if you shop for EPMS. There's no sense in attempting to defend a company who has done wrong, with false 'facts'.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/26/2016 10:57PM by arianamorris.
all i can say is GOOD LUCK......I feel YOU followed all their rules, but I've been there/done that also with them....be persistant and hopefully they will live up to their end.
Ive had companies get pissed off at me for this, but here's the deal. We are independent contractors. We are contracted to do a job. Your getting paid will depend on the wording of the contract.

For example, I would hire people for jobs that involved collecting data, photos, video and affidavits. That was the job. I had no terminology that the client had to accept the work. My instructions were the clients instructions so it was easy.

However, there were times when the client did not pay me for this or that reason. In those times, I'm still legally obligated to pay that contractor because they fulfilled their contract.

If their instructions say you must follow all directions and the client must accept the assignment, then you are stuck. If they did not include that wording you can take them, and win, in small claims court. You can file on your own, you can include up to triple the loss in some states and you can include your filing fee and lost wages for having to go in. A judge will review all information and make a determination on the spot. You could try to do it anyway since you did follow directions and that means they hired you to do a job that couldnt' be done. I'll throw this past my attorney and see what he says as that's not my thing tongue sticking out smiley

I make a point to get an agreement to get paid as long as I follow the directions or I avoid those companies.

EPMS is a terrible company to work for anyway. They make things incredibly difficult for no reason and seem to be very unwilling to work with you. I'm not sorry I don't do work for them anymore.

CEO The Mystery Shoppers Depot
US Wide route shopper with 10k+ shops completed over 47 states and two countries.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/28/2016 04:14AM by jrossetti.
Thank you very much for your insights. This was kind of my instinct but instinct is a far cry from actual legal knowledge, so this definitely helps. I'm going to call and leave a message every day next week with this. I can be a bulldog, and having been cheated bigtime in the past and not pursued it, I have some leftover Grrrr tongue sticking out smiley

I'll update here with what happens in case anyone else runs into a similar situation, but yeah, after this, I am done with EPMS and their 2-3 emails a day begging me to do work.
@jrossetti wrote:

However, there were times when the client did not pay me for this or that reason. In those times, I'm still legally obligated to pay that contractor because they fulfilled their contract.

If their instructions say you must follow all directions and the client must accept the assignment, then you are stuck. If they did not include that wording you can take them, and win, in small claims court.

I make a point to get an agreement to get paid as long as I follow the directions or I avoid those companies.

Great post! If you're hired by company A as an independent contractor, to perform a specific job, and there's no wording that A's client must accept the job before you get paid, then you should get paid. I used to run a small marketing communications business--single proprietorship, single employee (me!)-- but I often had to hire other writers to handle overflow work, or, as part of a job, would hire designers, printers, photographers, etc. In that business, there's never a stipulation that the end client accept the work or you don't have to pay your vendors. (Except if you're doing a quote with sample on spec, and all parties agree that there will be no fee if the client doesn't buy the concept.) Nobody in that business would ever work for anyone else if that were the case! If a client failed to complete a job or didn't accept it (assuming that all stipulations were met), I still owed my contracted vendors for the work they did, unless they screwed up.

I also, however, insisted on payment from clients if the terms of the contract were fulfilled, and the client, for example, changed his or her mind at the end and had me start all over again, or dropped the project. They still paid me for the work done. Only once did I ever have to threaten to take a client to small-claims court over a job: She agreed on it, per a written quote, decided not to complete, and figured she didn't owe me anything! I had a designer do some work on the project, and I owed him whether she paid me or not. After a letter from me telling her I would take her to court if she didn't pay, she paid me, and I paid him. But, even if she hadn't paid, I still was obligated to pay him. And I would have.

It doesn't hurt to know ahead of time how the MSC you're working for handles these situations! And take, or not, the risk.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
If the target said she would be there until 7 p.m. (unless she meant "we" as in the office was open until 7 p.m.) and then the target left (likely an emergency) what do the guidelines say if your target leaves due to an emergency? Abort the shop? Or shop someone else in the office? I've had some apartment shops where it says if the target is MIA... then you shop the next rental specialist.
EPMS always instructs you to complete the shop with another agent if your target is not present., yep.
I just want to say $75 is pretty good money for an apartment shop.smiling smiley I normally get $35 and sometimes they bonus to $55 if it's long distance, (more than 20 miles).
Only the first $40 is for the shop. The other 35 is for dealing with the BS from the MSC.

Really, though, I guess they can offer huge fees if they aren't going to pay them, anyway.
Targeted shops might seem like a lot of money, but you have to record your call with the target before you can visit the site. I have only reached the target on the first try once. So you have to keep calling and the calls have to be spread out over several hours or 2 days depending on the MSC. If the target calls you, you have to hang up and call back on a recorded line. It's a total waste of time, which is why I prefer non-targeted shops. They pay less, but it probably works out to be the same hourly rate in the long run.
Right, I haven't done shops for Ellis in a long time because of the fact that the $40 base fee (or higher with a bonus) turns out to be a PITA time wise for the amount of money paid. Almost always there is a target involved, and now they do have some higher paying video shops (I just got my equipment for that last week), I think I would rather cut my teeth video shopping for someone else. Especially after reading this thread!
Exactly, I ONLY work for them when I can get a shop for 65 or higher, because of past experience and how difficult the shops actually turn out to be.

$70 is nothing when they don't pay you. Getting to this shop was a 2 hour round trip. I am in the negative.
@arianamorris wrote:


$70 is nothing when they don't pay you. Getting to this shop was a 2 hour round trip. I am in the negative.
Y take shop that'll put you in the negative? Did U have a route that fell thry?
@arianamorris wrote:

$70 is nothing when they don't pay you. Getting to this shop was a 2 hour round trip. I am in the negative.

Ariana, I'm probably stating the obvious, but did you e-mail EPMS with the shop instructions that tell you to do exactly what you did? I can't see what their problem is with your shop. Is there a new editor, perhaps, who doesn't understand the shop guidelines? Does their own end client not know what the specific instructions are? You've apparently done enough of these so that you know how to follow the directions! Or, are they trying to tell you that you're not being truthful about having called first? That would be foolish on their part, since you've done these before and know how to handle the situation.

If it's the end client giving EPMS a problem even though you did what you were supposed to, EPMS should back you up. If not, I'd think twice (or three or four times) about working for them again. Especially since you allude to previous issues. I'd also escalate this as far up as I could, even if it means calling and/or e-mailing every day until somebody has the courtesy to respond!

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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