Market Force Complaint

Without violating any confidential information, I will try to explain the situation. I am posting this here for two reasons. 1. If there are any 'employees' or 'representatives' of MFI on this site, hopefully, they can relay this information to their supervisors in hopes that a resolution can be made. 2. Just as a general warning to other shoppers, considering doing shops for MFI.

I took the assignment to shop a national wireless provider. As part of the shop, I was to activate new service with this provider. The shop was a 2 parter. The first part paid a certain amount after the completion of the shop. The first part went great... no complaints.

The second part paid a small shopper fee, and then an additional much larger amount as a partial reimbursement for your bill. This half of the shop was to be completed after you received your first month's bill, one month after the initial shop. I filled this report out the day it was sent to me (April 14, 2016). I uploaded all photos of my bill as required and submitted the survey. I was expecting payment around May 10th. On May 12th, I changed my direct deposit info because I opened a new account (going through a divorce).

I never saw payment in either account, so I emailed helpdesk on May 20th to ask when to expect payment. They replied that I had recently changed my direct deposit info, so they would be mailing a check. Two weeks later, still no check. I emailed helpdesk again. They responded that the payment should have been made in May, but was not for some reason. And that the payment would be made for the small shopper fee, but that I would not receive the much larger reimbursement because the first month's bill showed a credit (because of traded in devices).

Just for discussion purposes, let's say that the shopper fee was $4 and the reimbursement was $60 (not the actual numbers, but close enough.) MFI says that since there was a credit on the first months bill, there was no reason to pay the $60 reimbursement. The guidelines simply stated that I would receive the reimbursement for my bill. Not "First month bill only", not "as long as there is no credit on first month", no stipulations... just that I would receive the reimbursement once I completed the survey.

So, I was upset to find out that they did not plan to pay me the majority of the money I was expecting from the shop. So between June 8th and June 19th, over a dozen emails were sent back and forth between myself and A supervisor at the helpdesk, named Midge Kennedy. I tried to remain as professional and polite as possible, but I was very upset that they kept making up reasons that were not in the guidelines for why they did not want to pay me the reimbursement amount. Eventually, she offered to pay half of what I was owed, as a compromise. I said I was willing to accept that if she would apologize for making the mistake in the first place and for saying that I had done something wrong. She refused to do that, and said that I was not owed anything.

Eventually, I got the Vice President of Operations, Emily Kehrberg, involved in the conversation. Emily said that she understood my side of the story and even though that was not the intended purpose of the guidelines, they did not clearly express that in the guidelines, so she was going to approve my payment. YAY! SUCCESS!

Or so I thought.... That was June 19th. They said the payment would come through in July (10th - 15th is normal direct deposit time line).

I should also disclose that before I got the last email from Emily Kehrberg, I had filed a complaint with the BBB expressing the entire situation. This complaint was sent to MFI on June 21st, but I called and closed the complaint because at the time, I thought they were finally going to honor their agreement and pay me.

So July 17th rolls around.... Still no direct deposit and no further emails, phone calls, or correspondence of any kind from MFI. I decided to log on to the portal to see if the payment had been made yet, only to find out that I had been restricted, so I no longer had access to the portal. I emailed Emily and asked 1. Why I was restricted? and 2. When to expect my payment. 18 hours later... no response. So I emailed helpdesk. Again Midge Kennedy responded... "There was an accounting issue so payments were not made correctly. I can't answer any further questions until I hear from accounting.". Honestly, I didn't completely believe her, but I decided to take her at her word. I asked why I was restricted, and she refused to answer me.

At this point, I don't expect to get a payment from them. If I do get a payment, it probably won't be until August... 4 months after the survey was completed. 3 months after the payment was supposed to be made.

BEWARE... MFI has no respect for their shoppers. They lie. They make up stories. They come up with hundreds of reasons to reject reports or not pay. They will not return phonecalls. They would rather email back and forth and keep shoppers waiting for months to get answers. They will close your account the second you become an inconvenience to them. There are dozens of better companies that pay more for services and actually honor their agreements.

Just thought I would warn you. If you are an employee of MFI and want any additional details, feel free to let me know. I can share the entire email thread.

Thanks for taking the time to read this...

Alex.

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Take this with a grain of salt because I did the shop back in April and mine was for upgrading not switching. Mine broke down to a fee for the first part of the shop and reimbursement for the device after the first bill. Did you pay anything for your new phones or was the credit enough to cover them?

I wanted to add this. Since you made the change to your direct deposit they said the next payment would be a check. Normally MF states checks are mailed after DD and shoppers will receive them after the 20th of the month so you still might be receiving it next week or the following week.

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.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2016 10:49PM by LisaSTL.
The credit did cover the Tax for the new phones, which was all that was due up front. It also covered the first month bill, and a little extra. But as I explained to MFI, it's not like the credit was just free money. It was technically 'my' money that they paid me for my old devices. Therefore, it is still 'my' money, and should still be qualified as money spent and therefore be 'reimbursable'.

As far as switching my direct deposit information, that was in May. I was ok with waiting until June 8th before emailing again and asking what happened to my check. But that was over two months ago, so it should be able to be direct deposited now. Maybe they are sending it as a check since it is my final payment from them (since they have removed me as a shopper), but if that was the case, they could have told me that when I emailed them today. Instead, they blamed it on accounting and said they couldn't tell me anything.

I am fairly certain that they are just giving me the run around and waiting for an executive to contact me because they know I am not going to be happy about their response. Either way, I am forwarding all this information to BBB and the MSPA.

Thanks for your information.
I am still waiting on payment for July from MFI. I too usually get a direct deposit, so your delayed payment may not actually be signs you are getting the run around. I posted about this also on the Market Force Payments thread, as I saw that one first. I've actually been following that one closely.

Lady Marius
Canadian Mystery Shopper


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2016 11:07PM by Lady Marius.
I'd be willing to believe that that was the only issue, if I hadn't also been locked out of the website and not given a straight answer by the help desk today. If there was an accounting issue, then it would have probably been straightened out last week. They wouldn't just be noticing it on a Sunday. And the help desk supervisor refused to tell me why I was restricted on the website. Sure, the accounting problem might have something to do with why the direct deposit hasn't hit yet, but there is something else going on here. They are just mad at me because I am trying to get what I was owed three months ago.
They have obviously deactivated you which is why you can't access the website. That alone doesn't mean you won't be paid. MF deactivates shoppers often and so far most, if not all, report they are paid whatever was owed. Regardless of how much time has gone by, MF stated your next payment after the change to your banking information would be by check. It is actually quite a common policy beyond just this business.

I don't recall the wording of the guidelines. However, I tend to disagree with you about your definition of the reimbursement. My understanding was I would be reimbursed out of pocket expenses up to a certain amount for the device. If you did not have out of pocket expenses, I don't think they owe you the reimbursement. I have seen the same thing happen with shoppers on reimbursement only dining shops. Something happens to cause the restaurant to comp the meal so there is nothing for the MSC to reimburse. Those MSCs don't reimburse shoppers the value, only the actual out of pocket expenses.

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.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2016 11:29PM by LisaSTL.
A comped meal costs nothing. Trading in a device costs the value of that device. I owned the device. The device was worth $200. I spent that $200 towards the purchase of my phone. But that is beside the point. The reimbursement states that it is for your bill. It does not say only the first month. I ha e spent hundreds on my bill since March. Well over the amount that was outlined on the guidelines. Emily Kehrberg even stated in one email that they did not make the guidelines very clear and that they would be changing them going forward. So based on the guidelines I was provided with, I am owed the full reimbursement. While Emily did say that those were not the intentions of the guidelines, she agrees that they could be interpreted that way and that she would honor it. But that was before I was deactivated and failed to receive my payment this month. I am willing to hope that this is just a payroll/accounting error, but I don't understand why the company is failing to give me a straight answer. Why I have been deactivated. And why this was handled so badly from the beginning.
I am standing by my assessment and analogy. You are insisting the shopper who had their meal comped is out nothing while your are out $200. In reality, you are out nothing because the carrier "paid" you with a $200 credit. Anything you receive from Market Force will go straight into your pocket. If they pay you a reimbursement for an expense you did not incur, you are ahead of the game and really don't have a complaint.

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.
By that logic... no one is out anything ever. Your employer paid you, so you had money to pay for your meal, so MFI shouldn't pay you back for your meal?

No... the carrier paid me for my phone that was worth at least $200. Therefore, that $200 is mine. If I paid that $200 for a new phone, then I SPENT $200 of my money. The carrier didn't just give me $200 out of the kindness of their heart. It was in exchange for my property.

But none of that matters.... direct quote with confidential info removed, from the shop guidelines, as quoted by a representative of MFI:

"YOUR COST, SHOP FEES, AND REIMBURSEMENT
Cost: You are responsible for all costs at the time of purchase and going forward.
Shop Fees:
 Part One: Check your CPI for your Store Visit Shop Fee.
 Part Two: Survey Shop Fee is (Small amount... let's say $4)
Reimbursement:
 Part One: There is no reimbursement for Part One.
 Part Two: You will receive (Larger amount... let's say $60) reimbursement toward your (carrier) bill with your next shopper check, after you complete the online Survey and it is approved by Market Force.
This is not intended to be a full reimbursement for your purchase."

The reimbursement was not for the products I bought with money I earned by trading in my old phones. The reimbursement is towards my bill.. not first month bill, but just generally... "bill". So, even though there was a credit on my first month bill, my second month was over $100, my third month was over $100, so on and so forth. I have spent well over $60 (or whatever the amount was) in since March. Any of those bills should have been enough to prove that I was owed the amount that was stipulated in the guidelines.
Uh, no.

@bigalwtn wrote:

By that logic... no one is out anything ever. Your employer paid you, so you had money to pay for your meal, so MFI shouldn't pay you back for your meal?

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.
Alex, I'm so sorry that happened to you. While I haven't done the cell shop for MF, I have done several shops for them with no issue.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
@LisaSTL wrote:

Uh, no.

Carrier paid me. I used that payment to buy products. So I should not be reimbursed?
How is that different from your full-time job paying you and you using that money to buy a meal?

If I walked into the store and they said, "Congrats! You're the 100th customer today, so your phone is free, and you don't have to pay for the first three months of service." Then no, I wouldn't expect a reimbursement. But I used my personal property as a payment. Carrier paid me FOR my personal property. I used that money to buy new products. Therefore, I spent 'my' money on the new products.

But for the third time... that doesn't even matter, because the reimbursement applied to my bill, not the original payment for merchandise.

I guess we just need to agree to disagree. We both have points, but the part we are disagreeing on doesn't even have to do with the payment that I am owed.
So what you are saying is something like this:
(The amount are for illustration only.)

You walked into the store with a $200 phone.
They gave you $200 in store credit for the phone.
You walked out with a $400 phone.
You still owe $400 for the phone, to be paid out over the next 2 years.

Your first bill showed $100 in charges for the first month.
They applied $100 of your store credit toward those charges.
The balance due showed $0.
MF claimed your bill was for $0 and not for $100.


Hmm. I think I would be upset too. I'm curious. Was it a requirement that you trade in your old phone? Not that it should make a difference. But it would seem odd to penalize someone who trades in their phone vs someone who doesn't.
Question: did the shop instructions tell you to trade in a device? if not you should not have traded the device in. You would have needed to sell the phone by other means to get the $200 and the reimbursement, (ie ebay) unless you got clarification in writing that you could trade in the phone for credit and still get the fee.

...but it says "This is not intended to be a full reimbursement for your purchase." which implies the $60 is partial reimbursement for the device...

You should not have taken it upon yourself to trade in a phone unless the directions specifically said to...you should have asked the MSC 1st....and given them a lot of time for repeatedly requests as you may get a nonsense answer the 1st time.....I once asked about a supermarket and they responded about a movie theater! Unless you got confirmation in writing that you could trade in and still get the max reimbursement, you shouldn't have traded in.

With most carriers, they have a built in fee for the monthly service bill to cover the cost of the phone...i don't know if they specify it that way anymore...i know mine used to charge a set service fee such as $75 which included the $55 actual data/voice/text plan and $20 toward the phone....so the $60 promised could have been promised toward the phone cost portion of the monthly fee.

that being said...if the new phone cost more than $260....and the carrier only gave you $200..it does seem that you are still owed the $60..

but wouldn't you still be paying phone bills anyway, even if you never did this shop? you would still have a phone right? there would be no reason to do this shop to get new phones you don't want...so its not like you are losing additional money each month.

a well planned mystery shop program would have recognized that people turn in cell phones for credit when buying a new one and addressed that in the directions....but experienced shoppers know...the directions don't always reflect real world...

Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 07/18/2016 04:39AM by jmitw.
@Mystery2me - Great summary. Again, amounts are a little off, but for demonstration purposes, that is what happened. The ($200) was enough to cover the tax of the device that was due upfront and my first month's bill. But it was still 'my' money, even though it showed up as a credit.

@Mystery2me and @jmitw, the guidelines did not say to trade in a device or not to trade in a device. It did say something along the lines of, "Answer questions honestly as if you were a normal customer" or something like that. So I did just that, I had phones to trade in and I wished to take advantage of their 'switcher' program, as any normal customer would. The guidelines did not say if this was allowed or disallowed, as long as I activated new service and filed the report.

@jmitw, I am aware that it was meant to be a partial reimbursement. Like I said, I have paid hundreds in service costs and payments for the devices. I didn't expect a reimbursement for all of those expenses, only the amount the guidelines stated, which for the purposes of not breaking confidentiality, would be the amount of $60.

I'm not sure I completely understand the last paragraph there... yes, I would have a phone either way, and I would pay my monthly bills either way. But if I am told that doing A, B and C means I get a $60 payment to be used to help with those bills, which is what MFI stated in their guidelines... and I did A, B, and C, then I should be paid the amount that they promised.
I happen to agree with the OP. He owned the device he traded in, it was his money. He still should have been paid whatever the fee was to upgrade. He basically did the work for nothing.
I agree with him too. If MF refuses reimbursement because he traded in his phone, then they have effectively taken the money he made from the sale of his property and he has done all that work for nothing. Whatever he made from trading in his phone should not offset the payment from MF. Customers trade in their phones all the time. If they didn't want us to do that they should have said so.

I enjoy awkward questions and uncomfortable silences. This gas station pavement is $%^@*#& hot.
I am with OP. He lost his money and he was deactivated. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise. Good luck! There is a time when you win by not wasting your time on something that will give you negative energy. There are other MSCs. I am not among the biggest earners here but I know.
I've learned to do myself a favour by being very choosy with the MSC and the shops I want to do.
@bigalwtn wrote:

@Mystery2me - Great summary. Again, amounts are a little off, but for demonstration purposes, that is what happened. The ($200) was enough to cover the tax of the device that was due upfront and my first month's bill. But it was still 'my' money, even though it showed up as a credit.

@Mystery2me and @jmitw, the guidelines did not say to trade in a device or not to trade in a device. It did say something along the lines of, "Answer questions honestly as if you were a normal customer" or something like that. So I did just that, I had phones to trade in and I wished to take advantage of their 'switcher' program, as any normal customer would. The guidelines did not say if this was allowed or disallowed, as long as I activated new service and filed the report.

@jmitw, I am aware that it was meant to be a partial reimbursement. Like I said, I have paid hundreds in service costs and payments for the devices. I didn't expect a reimbursement for all of those expenses, only the amount the guidelines stated, which for the purposes of not breaking confidentiality, would be the amount of $60.

I'm not sure I completely understand the last paragraph there... yes, I would have a phone either way, and I would pay my monthly bills either way. But if I am told that doing A, B and C means I get a $60 payment to be used to help with those bills, which is what MFI stated in their guidelines... and I did A, B, and C, then I should be paid the amount that they promised.

the point is you aren't paying monthly for a phone you would not have purchased if you weren't mystery shopping....you aren't out $100 monthly phone bills.....you are only out $60 that should have gone toward a new phone....
So a small update....

I have still been in communication with an executive officer at MFI. I asked two questions first thing Sunday morning...

1. Why was I restricted from the shopper portal?
2. When will I be paid what is owed and what was promised to me?

Almost 72 hours later... and no answers to either question.

For a company whose primary purpose is to do research into other companies and industries, you would think that MFI could do internal research and come up with an explanation/answer to two simple questions within a three day time period.

No one wants to tell me why it seems I have been deactivated, and no one can tell me if/when I am going to be paid. This has to be an embarrassment for a company that can tell you the exact average time it will take you to get french fries from a national fast food restaurant, but they can't tell me where my payment is, or why I am no longer welcome as a shopper.

(I can pretty much understand why I am no longer welcome as a shopper, not that I plan to do another job for them anyway. But I still want to hear it from the horse's mouth.)

EDIT: Finally! Payment received today! WOOT! I am officially done with Market Force!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2016 07:16AM by bigalwtn.
Congratulations! That proves you were in the right and MFI finally agreed. So, why did they deactivate you?
Because they can.

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.
@risinghorizon wrote:

So, why did they deactivate you?

I still wish I knew, but I am not expecting an answer. Like Lisa said... Because they can. An explanation would still be nice, but I would t do another shop for them if they begged me.

I am glad they didn't block me from CFA though. I love doing work for MFI's more mature and better organized kid sister. They always respond quickly and effectively to phone calls and emails. Even after dealing with this issue for over two months, I never got a call from anyone from MFI even after asking them to call me several times. Oh well. It's over now.
While MF is just for filler shops, I don't get the affinity for CFA. Since 2008 I've completed all of 4 assignments for them. All were bonused and none took more than 15 minutes. Everything else seems to take hours and hours of work, like all those movie checks and building standees, while only paying $8 to $10 an hour.

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 did a shop for MF a few days ago. Quick serve faux chinese food. I accidentally deleted the pic of the food, but I filled out the report and told them why I did not have a pic of the food. They rejected my shop. Seriously? All the damn food looks the same all the friggen time. The rice and chow mein is always dry. I was so close to cancelling the shop before i went because I was not in the mood for that food, but I did not want to be a flake. Now I'm out 10.34( I upgraded to the shrimp) and got the suggested app. Still over the 9.00 reimbursement. i KNOW its my fault, because I deleted the pic, but I've done numerous faux chinese food shops for them. They can't make an exception?
@calicakes wrote:

I did a shop for MF a few days ago. Quick serve faux chinese food. I accidentally deleted the pic of the food, but I filled out the report and told them why I did not have a pic of the food. They rejected my shop. Seriously? All the damn food looks the same all the friggen time. The rice and chow mein is always dry. I was so close to cancelling the shop before i went because I was not in the mood for that food, but I did not want to be a flake. Now I'm out 10.34( I upgraded to the shrimp) and got the suggested app. Still over the 9.00 reimbursement. i KNOW its my fault, because I deleted the pic, but I've done numerous faux chinese food shops for them. They can't make an exception?

They can't use the report without the picture. My phone automatically backs my photos up to the cloud so even if I accidentally delete something I can still get it.

I enjoy awkward questions and uncomfortable silences. This gas station pavement is $%^@*#& hot.
@calicakes wrote:

I did a shop for MF a few days ago. Quick serve faux chinese food. I accidentally deleted the pic of the food, but I filled out the report and told them why I did not have a pic of the food. They rejected my shop. Seriously? They can't make an exception?

Seriously. And no exceptions. They are so serious about the photo that they ask 3 photo-related questions in the qualifying questions before you are able to assign the shop. And in the guidelines they tell you your shop will be invalidated without a photo or if you submit a blurry photo, so I always take 3 photos and I immediately e-mail to myself. Given the attention they show to the importance of the photo, I can't imagine why they would make an exception. It's clear that the photo is a priority.
With MFI, photo and receipts are a priority. That is something I always have to watch out for when I do shops for them.

Once I was told my photo was incorrect and that I sent them the front pic of the adult's brand, instead of the kid's brand. I suspect they were not aware that they had the same front facade. I sent them another angle and explained that they had the same facade and that was that. No further comment.
Funny thing is I actually enjoyed the shops I have chosen to do for CFA (except for the standee). And I actually earn more with them but I have to be more organized. CFA shops, most of the time are my relaxing time shops, esp. if they have reserved them for me. The only negative thing is they cannot accept DD because they pay in US$, but they did not tell me that. The check goes by snail mail. When the shop I do for MFI is in US$, it is separated from DD and is paid by check.
@LisaSTL wrote:


I don't recall the wording of the guidelines. However, I tend to disagree with you about your definition of the reimbursement. My understanding was I would be reimbursed out of pocket expenses up to a certain amount for the device.
If this is the same shop I did (either add a line or change companies to the one being evaluated) I got $125 plus $5 for sending in the first monthly statement. Since the phone company was also doing a BOGO, I got two Samsung Galaxy 7s phones and $130. Not bad. There was no reimbursement component. Alas, it then took two months for the cell phone company to honor the BOGO - I kept getting billed for the second phone. Since my report was filed, I couldn't put that in my evaluation.

Shopping SoCal and Maui.
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