Welp, ACL is being investigated by the California Dept of Industrial Relations

Yep, wasn't much left to say about the ACL thing (at this time). I think there could be a lot more to say about typing.

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Typing to me at this point in life is like breathing, who cares how many breaths one takes, and who cares how many keys you hit...lets talk about wear and tear on one's car, which seems more important since expense is all on you, not the MSC. I would spend half the money made on gas and upkeep, and now that it is difficult to get oil changes, that is on our heads and should count in a fee, so raises are in order.
Afterthought: ACL should pay if they did anything wrong, hope they get it right in the pocket book.

Live consciously....


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2019 05:30PM by Irene_L.A..
We are, among other things, talking about how fast we can do reports based on our different typing speeds. To me it is related because if California, where I live, changes the way we get paid, the msc are going to have to consider how long it takes us to file the reports. For me as a slow typist that would be a long time. Perhaps the state rules will encourage them to start using typing test minimum speeds in order to meet a lower fee structure. In that case I will not be working for them anymore.



@jennifer2016 wrote:

Can someone tell me how these posts about typing are relevant to this thread?? Am I missing something here?
One of the three questions the State of California considers is related to control. While this comment does not relate specifically to ACL, some MSCs specify every detail, from the very date and hour to go to the location, what to wear (and what NOT to wear), how to fill out the form (some want excrutiating details and parrotted repeats that a professional writer/researcher would never include...), the amount of the fee, the amount of the reimbursement, not using voice-to-text to fill out forms (as mentioned earlier), not referring to the person shopped by gender, filling out forms initially in handwriting then use the keyboard to enter the same data, where to park the car, etc. etc. etc. Some even add projects to a shoppers log without the shopper's knowledge or agreement--you wake up one day and there's a new shop someone added overnight!

To avoid being in control of the shopper, the MSC would have to negotiate all of these (and other things) with an IC. (Some companies do negotiate things like this from time to time.) Right now, it's mostly a situation where the MSC sets ALL the terms, and the shopper either accepts it or rejects it. Sometimes there is the option to ask for a higher fee--a bonus--but that is not the norm. That's how we wind up with a shop where there is no fee, a $5 reimbursement, and a requirement to purchase something at a specific counter, where nothing is available for $5.

(edited mostly to add the last paragraph)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2019 06:45PM by Susan L..
Funny you should mention that. I just got a $2 per hour raise today from a company I do IC work for.
They are very generous; they pay me hourly for administrative time, drive time, time in store, and they also pay mileage.

I would love to find some oil change shops for sure, but not quite due yet. I do need a serpentine belt but no shops for that.

@Irene_L.A. wrote:

Typing to me at this point in life is like breathing, who cares how many breaths one takes, and who cares how many keys you hit...lets talk about wear and tear on one's car, which seems more important since expense is all on you, not the MSC. I would spend half the money made on gas and upkeep, and now that it is difficult to get oil changes, that is on our heads and should count in a fee, so raises are in order.
Afterthought: ACL should pay if they did anything wrong, hope they get it right in the pocket book.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

I do need a serpentine belt but no shops for that.

Well you are kind of snaky

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Snaky, shaky, or snarky? I never know if youre typing on your phone and making typos (like me). ????
Snaky, as in like a snake. Or serpentine......

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Absolutely this is overdue. Before 1999, any mystery shop work done in California (and most other states) had to be by an employee of a licensed private investigator. Shoppers were paid more, they were trained personally, and the MSCs charged properly for their services . Now, the model is based on using the internet, and wide, wide nets to catch as many shoppers as an MSC can. Technically, MSCs have been in violation of the law every time they direct a shopper for ANYTHING...such as to go at a certain time, even a time period.... But what is spurring this letter, and the investigation of MSC's nationwide by the federal labor folks, are minimum wage laws. This is what the California legislature is looking closely at. And....ACL is a target, already hooked, and now the information gathering process begins....definitely NOT a fishing expedition.....The minimum wage will soon be $15/hr throughout most of California's urban settings, and MSCs don't come close to that standard....so.....this will be an interesting process to follow.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2019 02:36PM by winemaker.
Susan L. Exactly right...there is NO way MSCs are complying, at least in California, and most likely in all other states....they just don't pass the test for using IC's.
Yes, you are. You are missing the comraderie of this board.

@jennifer2016 wrote:

Can someone tell me how these posts about typing are relevant to this thread?? Am I missing something here?

Kim
It serves them right. What a cheap company. They always nicked and dimed everything. I hope they get a class action lawsuit handed to them.
I don't know about California or "most other states", but from about 1958 to 1975, my parents were doing mystery shops for Wilmark Service Systems (based in New York) at various places in NJ (gas stations, department stores, phone cold calls, movie ticket sales, etc.) and they were contractors, not employees. For the time, they were paid well. Everything was done with snail mail, corded phones, carbon paper, manual typewriters, and hand-held tally counters.
@winemaker wrote:

Absolutely this is overdue. Before 1999, any mystery shop work done in California (and most other states) had to be by an employee of a licensed private investigator.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
@myst4au wrote:

I don't know about California or "most other states", but from about 1958 to 1975, my parents were doing mystery shops for Wilmark Service Systems (based in New York) at various places in NJ (gas stations, department stores, phone cold calls, movie ticket sales, etc.) and they were contractors, not employees. For the time, they were paid well. Everything was done with snail mail, corded phones, carbon paper, manual typewriters, and hand-held tally counters.
@winemaker wrote:

Absolutely this is overdue. Before 1999, any mystery shop work done in California (and most other states) had to be by an employee of a licensed private investigator.

And my introduction to MSing (In CA none-the-less) was my mother doing Jack in the Box shops in the 70's where I had the wonderful responsibility of taking timings with a stopwatch and eating the food. I also helped with the 3-layer carbon paper forms that had to be mailed in...and my mom was definitely a contractor back then.
LoL..I aggree.. I think not enough time is spent on talking about typing and auto correct. I can't stand it when my phone tries to correct something and it looks totally different than what I was trying to type. It seems people automatically think everyone can type fast. Those reports for Ellis are Ridiculously long and being able to type is a must but being able to type fast and accurately will save time and earn more money. That is why we discuss typing. Because nobody talks about it or where they learned or how they have to practice.
Right?? Nobody talks about that either. Wear and tear of vehicles doing shops and using computer. These Corps are getting over like bandits. How do people factor in the miles etc. Does the new tax code even allow us to claim mileage? Just asking..

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/12/2019 09:10AM by scorpionshar777.
Jack in the Box, for a period around 1998 - 2000, was hiring employees to do their shops in house.

@SteveSoCal wrote:

@myst4au wrote:

I don't know about California or "most other states", but from about 1958 to 1975, my parents were doing mystery shops for Wilmark Service Systems (based in New York) at various places in NJ (gas stations, department stores, phone cold calls, movie ticket sales, etc.) and they were contractors, not employees. For the time, they were paid well. Everything was done with snail mail, corded phones, carbon paper, manual typewriters, and hand-held tally counters.
@winemaker wrote:

Absolutely this is overdue. Before 1999, any mystery shop work done in California (and most other states) had to be by an employee of a licensed private investigator.

And my introduction to MSing (In CA none-the-less) was my mother doing Jack in the Box shops in the 70's where I had the wonderful responsibility of taking timings with a stopwatch and eating the food. I also helped with the 3-layer carbon paper forms that had to be mailed in...and my mom was definitely a contractor back then.
Sandy!
Thank you! That's exactly what we're talking about typing and speed, turning in paperwork that has to be typed of course. Very relevant.
Actually, yes, there has been quite a bit of discussion about vehicle use and home office use around tax time.
And yes, the new tax code allows us to claim mileage, as we are IC and not employees. You would have to do a quick search on the forum but should be able to find those threads.

@scorpionshar777 wrote:

Right?? Nobody talks about that either. Wear and tear of vehicles doing shops and using computer. These Corps are getting over like bandits. How do people factor in the miles etc. Does the new tax code even allow us to claim mileage? Just asking..
Schedule C is your friend! You report self-employment income there, and you report deductions there as well. The current IRS mileage rate is $0.58 per mile. Definitely deductible if you maintain contemporaneous records of miles driven.
@scorpionshar777 wrote:

Right?? Nobody talks about that either. Wear and tear of vehicles doing shops and using computer. These Corps are getting over like bandits. How do people factor in the miles etc. Does the new tax code even allow us to claim mileage? Just asking..

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
@LindaM wrote:

Jack in the Box, for a period around 1998 - 2000, was hiring employees to do their shops in house.

That's actually one of the things that got me into MSing as an adult. I saw the ads when they were hiring and it reminded me of when I was a kid...but I didn't enjoy the food as much as an adult (or the work).

Safeway had it's shoppers on an employee program that I was part of until around 2010, and that's what I base my CA employee shopper ideals on.

@myst4au wrote:

Schedule C is your friend! You report self-employment income there, and you report deductions there as well. The current IRS mileage rate is $0.58 per mile. Definitely deductible if you maintain contemporaneous records of miles driven.
@scorpionshar777 wrote:

Right?? Nobody talks about that either. Wear and tear of vehicles doing shops and using computer. These Corps are getting over like bandits. How do people factor in the miles etc. Does the new tax code even allow us to claim mileage? Just asking..

One of the things I learned from being a 'real' employee shopper (Unlike NV where you're technically an employee but practically treated like an IC) is that the drive to your first assignment of the day and back from your last shop is considered your 'commute' and not reimbursable, or potentially even deductible.

If any of those shoppers deducting 100% of their milage were ever to get audited, it's my understanding that it would not be allowed unless they maintained a separate vehicle exclusively for MSing. The good news is that most shoppers don't earn enough to ever trigger an audit from the write-off, but I believe a large number of shopper are inaccurately calculating their mileage deduction. This is based on my conversation with the corporate attorney, who's interest of course was based on saving the corporation money, but it makes sense.
I don't shop for ACL and am not in California, so can't comment directly on this situation. But I've often wondered about the line between ICs and employees with respect to mystery shopping. By law, a company cannot dictate certain terms to contractors. As someone who used to use ICs in my business, I had to be aware of that.

For example, if an MSC says you can shop "any open hours," that seems fine, but if they say you have to shop between X and X, without an overriding reason, is that legal? I don't know. If they tell you specifically what to wear, is that legal? Again, I don't know. But it seems to me there's always been a bit of a grey area in mystery shopping as to the line between employee and contractor. Sure, you can accept any terms they require, but that doesn't necessarily mean the terms adhere to the letter of the law.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
Yeah, but I think it was LisaSTL who pointed out that the guy who paints the walls in a room in your house has to adhere to your color standards, even though he is an IC. You might want lavender and he decides to paint the room deep purple instead? Mmm, nope.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

Yeah, but I think it was LisaSTL who pointed out that the guy who paints the walls in a room in your house has to adhere to your color standards, even though he is an IC. You might want lavender and he decides to paint the room deep purple instead? Mmm, nope.

Yes, that's true. And it's one of the things you can, of course, dictate to your contractor. But there are things you can't. If your contractor says he's going to be at your home at 9 a.m., you can ask him to arrive at 8. But I don't think you can demand he does so, unless it's in your written bi-lateral contract. They have to meet your deadline, but generally, how and when is up to them. Within reason. Technically, if you hire someone, for example, to write copy for your brochure, you can't tell them they must do it at your place of business. Those are the kinds of things that are negotiable, but not able to be demanded. At least in certain states. I don't know all of the specific things that can and can't be dictated by a company for which one is an IC, but there are several things they can't dictate. That's what got Microsoft or Apple (I can't remember which) in hot water a few years back.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
You are allowed to specify parameters of the assignments for an IC. A window of hours is acceptable. Writing in a particular language or syntax is acceptable. Requiring professional attire is acceptable.

Where it starts crossing the line is specifying that they use your proprietary software (like ACL), exactly what and how to order, what means to arrive and depart by, fixing the pay rates, etc.

Imagine telling the painter that he needs to arrive in his own car and utilize the valet in a nearby parking lot, use a certain brand of brushes and only paint using down-strokes....
I can comment on one aspect of something. We have multiple IC businesses. For one, we drive close to seventy miles per day almost every day. One day per week, we only drive about ten (or eleven, depending upon the day). If I shop locally, I rarely work and drive only a couple of miles. If I shop at the end of the beloved wide open spaces (and in the process, get my personal happinesss), we drive anywhere from one hundred to five hundred miles.

This is because we are rural, have chosen specific work for the early job, and love the wide open spaces. I do not recommend this. I merely enjoy it (and save money constantly for new tires!).

.. September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
@SteveSoCal wrote:

You are allowed to specify parameters of the assignments for an IC. A window of hours is acceptable. Writing in a particular language or syntax is acceptable. Requiring professional attire is acceptable.

Setting parameters is of course acceptable. But they have to be careful not to get into the areas you mention or other very specific demands.

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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