Cirrus: Friendly Reminders - Payment

Hi all! I tend to post a message like this each time I have to chase payment for this company - as it is pretty common. I shopped for Cirrus Marketing Intelligence in June ($800) and July ($125) of this year. According to my personal records and PayPal records, I have only been paid for my July shops. This is pretty typical of my personal experiences with Cirrus - I have to chase about half the invoices that I submit for them. (Yes, I submitted my June invoice on 6/29/19). To date, I have always been paid after contacting the MSC owner (Monnie Howard), which I just did before posting this message.....I know that I am not the only one who periodically has to chase payments for this company.

So... As a reminder to everybody, please remember to keep good records of your shops and track payments. Some companies do struggle to pay shoppers. Happy Shopping!

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.

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This company has been this way for over 10 years, probably more than 15 years. They don't even pay the schedulers on time.
I got a response from Monnie Howard (owner) within minutes of sending my inquiry. She promised to look into it. I'll post when she remedies the situation. I've always been paid after calling attention to the issue, so I periodically take their shops - when the price is right. At the same time, because of the slow payments and frequency of missed payments, I only will do shops for this company when they are offering well more compensation than other MSC's for similar shops.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I did not hear anything more for over 24 hours, so I sent a follow-up email to Monnie. I received a reply with 20 minutes - and my payment. All is well: I did have have to chase payment, but I am now paid in full. smiling smiley

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
Yeah.... it’s part of the “deal” when working with Cirrus: you need to be prepared to chase your payments. Because of the hassle, I don’t pick up their apartments unless they are very well bonuses and offering about $15 more than what I can get from EPMS....

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I would need like $50 more than EPMS for Cirrus but that's me. This is a good reminder to all shopper even those part timers. You are still running a business and should keep records so you know who owes you what.

Shopping Western NY, Northeast and Central PA, and parts of Ohio and West Virginia. Have car will travel anywhere if the monies right.
Sounds great on paper, personally I'm not good about chasing payment.....good luck.

Live consciously....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2020 05:13PM by Irene_L.A..
I have never been stiffed. However, this is the one MSC with whom I work for which I feel tracking payments very closely is imperative. Out of the thousands of shops I have done, I have only had to chase payment five times (aside from when I forgot to submit an invoice for Maritz). Four of those times have been with Cirrus -and there are 20-30 MSC's for which I have worked more than Cirrus.....

So, at $125, I would do them, unless there were similar offers for other apartment communities. However, make sure that you are aware that January shops will be paid at the end of the first week of April. Also make sure you fill out their invoice correctly and submit it properly. If you don't have payment by April 15, be ready to contact them. I go straight to Monnie Howard and my payment issues are rectified within about a day. (This time was the slowest at about 28 hours.)

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I did a shop for them 3 months ago. How long are their payments taking? I couldn't see anything on their website.

Payment for October shops should hit your PayPal account by the end of the first week of February.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2020 03:56PM by MFJohnston.
I, too, have not been paid by Cirrus for $500 in invoiced work completed in 2018. I was assured by someone who answers at their California office and identifies herself as Valeria Valencia that the invoices were verified and the payment was forthcoming. Payment was never sent.

Monnie Howard, identified as the owner and the individual responsible for payments, has been unresponsive to calls or email.

I understood from some discussion in the industry Cirrus was bankrupt, and their guarantor was refusing to cover their debts, but I have not seen any public records to that effect, and don't know if it is true or accurate information. Based on the unofficial reports they were bankrupt, we offered them a payment arrangement. They have not accepted the payment arrangement offer sent by our company. Whoever Monnie Howard is, she has never returned a call or responded to an email, if such a person in fact exists. Cirrus is still recruiting contractors and not paying them as far as I can discern from their advertising across the internet and discussion here. As far as we are concerned, they are flagged for non-payment in our database. We don't do work for them at all.

As for recourse, we filed a Better Business Bureau complaint, and after giving Cirrus six months of fair notice of credit bureau reporting, we included them in a national credit bureau report for bad debt.

The area BBB in Arizona has placed them on investigative surveillance according to BBB correspondence. I believe the DA is monitoring Cirrus and has a complaint file. The DA does not, as far as I know, share details of their investigations publicly as the BBB does, but the DA does accept complaints. Contact your state DA if you suspect fraud. I don't know the DA's threshold for criminal prosecution, whether it is hundreds of cases, or five cases. You might inquire if you wish to pursue it. The DA would have to determine whether there are grounds for criminal prosecution, or whether Cirrus is merely a failed company, bankrupt, financially insolvent and embarrasingly mismanaged. Your state DA is the agency that investigates for criminal intent. Since Cirrus is multi-state, the US District Attorney may become involved at some point if multiple states are receiving complaints.

If you choose to document your case and file a report with BBB, be aware the BBB only considers actionable a false advertising claim, or a commercial exchange claim where you did not receive the product or service you paid for. Non-payment issues are kept on file and tracked, and will affect the BBB rating for honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, reliability and meeting contractual obligations, but are not actively mediated with BBB. If a pattern of non-payment emerges, BBB records it publicly, and it impacts ratings. BBB has an additional public review forum where you can leave an informal review that does not go through a formal complaint process. Informal reviews are not taken into consideration when assigning a BBB rating to a company.

In the formal complaint, you can file a claim for false advertising with the BBB, (i.e. Cirrus falsely advertised they were recruiting contractors for fee, and did not pay them), or ask the BBB to keep non-payment history in the public record regardless of whether it is actionable, or both. Their web address is [].

You can also register as a data furnisher with Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union if you have contractor accounts of 500 or more and report non-payment there if you have exhausted all other avenues and Cirrus remains unresponsive. There are in fact hundreds of MSPs with whom you may contract, so most contractors qualify to become data furnishers to the major credit bureaus.

Another avenue is to file a small claims case in California, receive a judgment which is public information, and place a lien based on the judgment. You may help protect the public from further harm by taking any or all of the above actions resulting in a public record.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/09/2020 06:18AM by SRS-SurveyResearchSpecialist.

1. The BBB is the wrong agency. You are not a consumer, rather a contractor. A complaint there is useless. If it gets a lot (A LOT) of complaints, the MSPA might intervene. But, your only real recourse is to file in small claims court. The courts exist for just this reason.

2. If Cirrus has, in fact, filed for bankruptcy, it would be a matter of public record and easy to confirm. Have you done so?

3. It seems weird that I got a (fairly) quick response and payment for the $800 owed to me, but that they are totally unresponsive about your $500 debt. What does your shop log say about payment? Have you double-checked your PayPal email address on your profile with them? You did, in fact send their exact invoice for to them? I’m not defending them, just pointing out that what you are describing differs from how they have responded to me, so it makes sense to double check your end, just in case.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
It sounds like too much work for what little they are going to pay. I just added them to my 10-foot pole list because of having to chase payments.
Yes, I noted in the post the BBB does not actively mediate a contractor case of non-payment unless it is a case of false advertising. Based on Cirrus advertising, you can make a case for misrepresentation.

BBB will always accept a formal complaint and any documentation which goes to trustworthiness, reliability, and meeting contractual obligation even when they do not actively mediate. According to BBB, regardless of your contractor or consumer status, a substantiated complaint of non-payment of contractual obligation does affect BBB's rating of the non-payor company.

You asked about the logs. The shop logs are filled with positive feedback and grades 10, 9, and one or two 8s. All approved. All accepted and all verified. The only thing they excluded was a case where the leasing office did not answer calls for one week and two or three calls over the business week to the community yielded no response. The exclusion resulted in wasted call time, but not a tremendous loss. It appears their thinking is if you do your job, but the paid leasing office does not, you should be accountable for the non-performance of the leasing office and go unpaid for the evaluation. It is not uncommon, in my experience, for Cirrus to hide leasing office non-performance with an exclusion of the contractor's work. In other words, they ask you to evaluate on the basis of KPIs, and informed consent of the leasing office who knows they are being evaluated, but if the leasing office doesn't hit its KPIs, Cirrus hides poor performers. They do not submit the review. Only glowing reports make it to the client although the client pays for objective evaluation of performance on agreed upon KPIs. It may be only 1 in 10 are non-performing, but the client never sees the 10%.

We were told leasing office staff are paid $300 to participate in the KPI/TQM-like performance reviews. You would think they would be aware of their KPI's and be motivated. Apparently when leasing office motivation is lacking, Cirrus fails to include the data.

To your question on the alleged Cirrus bankrupty, I have not seen any public record confirming it. Nothing to confirm in California, but they operate interstate, and I have not devoted any more time to checking all 50 United States.

We agreed to net 90 days. When they failed to pay in 90 days, we offered a payment arrangement and encouraged them to return a modified agreement if unable to meet their obligations.They did not respond to the offer.

We did not make any credit bureau reports for six months after the agreed date for payments, and provided months of fair notice to cure the non-payment by communicating with us if they needed to modify the contract and make installments. They assured us they would send payment. They didn't. It has been more than one year since the original invoices were forwarded to them.

Regarding your question about the payment address, I confirmed the payment address with them by email on the active account, and by certified mail with return receipt on the account they asked us to re-register and which I deactivated. The correspondence was tracked and delivered by USPS. No question they received it. In case they were unable to afford return postage, I sent them a return envelope postage pre-paid. No response. Not a word.

Although the logs indicate received and accepted status with positive feedback, their story about payment when contacted by phone and email was ever-changing.

Since 2015 they claimed Cirrus only pays to a 1099 business registration. They initially asked for a change from personal to business lest the IRS should rule they are employers and labor law should require of them full provision of retirement benefits, health insurance, living wage of $15 USD per hour inclusive of prep time, travel, onsite and reporting time, overtime, etc.

Cirrus publishes its requirement of a 1099 contractor registration on their website with a contractual agreement to 1099 status included in the registration. Presumably they chose the provisions under 1099 because they exempt Cirrus from fair labor practices. 1099 provisions also exempt them from witholding of income for tax purposes and reporting 1099 income under the threshold of $600 annually. It gives them a paperwork break. They requested it. That is what was registered.

Later in 2018, the story was they didn't pay because they only pay to a personal registration, not a business name or registered DBA, not an EIN. The request from Valeria Valencia some three years into a 1099 relationship under contract was to re-register with your personal name and SSN.

We re-registered. Cirrus website still says they will only accept and pay 1099 contractors,' so no changes there. Nothing indicates a policy change or update. As of 2020, they have paid neither to the business, nor the personal registration.

Bait and switch? Phishing? Identity theft? We don't know. Possibly. But certainly it meets the criteria for false advertising if they cite as the reason for non-payment a 1099 status their published documents and explicitly require.

After one or two months of activity on the adamantly demanded personal registration, the story was, we have two registrations and you can not have two.

We deactivated the first, and notified them by phone and certified mail, but I have a hard time believing anyone could count two registrations when they were initiated by their own demand for a re-registration which departed from published requirements for 1099 EIN to personal registration with a SSN.

All the insistence on SSN and personal name after publishing the 1099 business requirement sounds like phishing to me and if you read your state DAs webpages, it apparently sounds like phishing to him, too. The transition to 1099 EIN has been industry-wide in the US. MSPA North America recommends it. MSCs contracts state the 1099 status, which is exclusively a business registration, defines the nature of the relationship. The upshot is EIN or SSN and personal name or DBA usage is strictly up to the contractor on MSC sites. IRS records, which are non-public and perhaps a little more secure, record ownership of the EIN and only there is the personal name and SSN linked to the EIN which is as it should be. You don't want personal names and SSNs going to hundreds of MSCs seen by potentially thousands of anonymous persons. It may be self-evident to those with experience in the industry a 1099 contractor is entitled to use his or her DBA and EIN. The gestalt has not reached invoice processing at Cirrus. That is the legal protection they were trying to breach, to force a properly registered business to use a personal name and SSN. Un-American.

Beyond security issues, many business owners segregate income, activities, or general programming using their DBA and EIN. It is incorrect and unecessarily invasive to attempt to extract a personal SSN from those who elect to use their EIN. Nonprofits often have a unique EIN for each program in their scope of work. They want the 1099 to report to that EIN, not to the SSNs of their volunteers, employees, or officers and directors. It would be ridiculous for income to be reported to an individual when it is an incorporated business or non-profit program and not a sole proprietership. If Cirrus does not know that, they are responsible for knowing.

You commented on Cirrus's unresponsiveness and I should clarify. It was Monnie Howard who was unresponsive to calls or email. I recorded the non-answer and the run-around, with whoever the Valeria Valencia person was, and conversations with the account manager, someone identifying herself as Debbie Depew.

Valeria Valencia sent an email after receiving the group email, and after the call with Debbie Depew, stating payment was pending. The email confirming invoices were verified arrived after months of correspondence.

To date, the person who identifies herself as Valeria Valencia states she will not process a 1099 payment to a DBA and EIN. As a courtesy, I provided full citation of the published 1099 requirement directly from the Cirrus website and copied all parties, Valeria Valencia who identified herself as the payment processor, Debbie Depew, who stated she was the property evaluation account manager, and Monnie Howard who they identified as the owner of Cirrus and the responsible payor.

Valeria acknowledges in recorded conversations that she did receive the information forwarded to her regarding the 1099 registration Cirrus requires. She continued after being informed of the 1099 requirement which allows DBA and EIN registration to deny payment stating she knows nothing about business contracting. She stated she just processed invoices and Monnie Howard was responsible for transmitting payment. I asked for confirmation of the source of her information. If there is a real Monnie Howard, she did not answer her phone at any time during business hours on any day of the week, and never returned voice mail or email messages.

Ultimately, after the calls, emails, and Valeria Valencia's confirming the invoices had finallybeen verified and payment was pending, Cirrus still failed to remit. The unanswered phone line purportedly belonging to Monnie Howard does not go to anyone who answers calls or email or transmits payment of their obligations.

You commented on small claims. The small claims case is black and white, open and shut. Cirrus received the work. They accepted it with positive feedback. They were in possession of the business registration requested under Cirrus's published requirements. They received a re-registration as they requested, yet failed to pay for the services they acknowledge were received and approved.

Since Cirrus is interstate, I believe any injured party may file small claims in their home state. For routers, I believe filing is accepted wherever the work was solicited by Cirrus and carried out by the contractor. Injured parties can receive the judgment locally which may then be filed in neighboring states. I do not believe it is necessary to travel to California. You can e-file your judgments under reciprocity in California. There is full faith and credit in most of the 50 states. There has been movement toward uniformity. Checking with a local clerk or your local counsel is always a good idea if pursuing small claims, but they can be done Pro Se. They are simple enough. You won't have a fool for a client.

My reports to credit bureaus are inclusive of non-payment by Cirrus. As long as they remain in the record, there is some chance of recovery, or at least some accountability that may help to protect the public, but there is a caveat. All of these remedies and petitions for relief of injured parties may not make a difference if there is criminal intent. The DA will determine that since we do not claim to be able to examine the parties for criminal intent, but I wouldn't want to give anyone false hope. If you are dealing with criminality, there may be no recovery in that case. The parties may be in jail, or unwilling to honor their obligations as those possessed of criminal intent often are. Realistically, legal action can not be expected to make dishonorable people honorable. It can only effect justice in the form of a judgment that may or may not be paid, and by generating a record that may offer protection of the public from repeated harm by those who intend to repeat the injurious pattern of behavior.

The best protection against a disreputable company is to halt any further work for them and not take contracts with them at all.

This company has earned a bad reputation, and no amount of fair-pay advertising bait is really worth the risk of potential losses to the contractor which include significant time, expense, and earned income.

There are many who have received the warnings about this company here in the forum, and have taken the Cirrus contract, only to post later they were not paid, or the evaluation was not as represented (it was four hours, not two). Those who warned of possible difficulties did not wish to be vindicated and I think were rather sorry to see they were.

Cirrus makes use of a fair-wage advertisment, apartment evaluations for $50, $100, random evaluations with no targeted evaluations dragging on for weeks, or retail evalutions for $75 or $150.

More than a few victim statements contain explanations of Cirrus's appeal to those who are fledgling businesses just starting out, having little or no capital, little to no reserves, and who are struggling to meet cost of living. Cirrus is appealing to those who are seeking fair pay when web-based companies on the whole are not offering it. But if you factor the probability of zero payment, or significantly delayed payment, into the business pro forma and cash flow, you can see it for what it is. It is not a fair-wage proposition. It is loss waiting to happen. Most business owners don't like to play a game of financial Russian Roulette.

It is reminiscent of the story of the snake who promises not to bite and begs for passersby to undertake a rescue, then viciously injects a lethal venom into the poor victim, and slithers away uttering in classic unconscionable snake fashion words of condemnation to the blameless victim, 'You knew what I was when you picked me up.' The moral lesson is the same. Don't be tempted to take on a potential liability or an outright malignancy based on false advertising of character or nature. Cirrus falsely advertises its good rating, its good character, its reliable payment record. It does not have good character if it habitually fails to meet its contractual obligations.

The key to success is to find reliable, trustworthy, scrupulous companies with whom you can have a good working relationship. This may not be one of them, but they are out there. Some good advice for those just starting out is never take a contract that would damage you if the other party does not perform. Build as much certainty as you can into your work. Start small. Don't take out-of-pocket purchase requests unless you can afford the loss associated with potential non-payment for your services and until you know the company. Don't generate travel expenses if you can avoid it until you know the company. Stay as close to home as you can. Branch out after you determine which companies have established a record of being reliable.
Monnie Howard is a real person. I have communicated with her both over email and phone. Here is the email address I've used - and to which I have always gotten a response:

Your ordeal sounds strange; I haven dealt with Debbie Depew, but never over payment questions - only in dealing with shops with targets who don't answer phones. When I put forth a significant effort on an especially difficult target (the target community ended up blocking calls from the recorded line), I was still paid in full - much to my surprise, as this is not the industry norm. I've submitted (and been paid for) reports on very poor employee performance. Again, I'm not doubting your story - I'm just pointing out that it is strange.

I have a couple of other questions:

Why not just file in small claims? If you have sent all the certified letters and have the documentation of the acceptance of your shops, etc., as you say, the small claims case is a slam dunk. It's clear that you've already put forth all the effort you would need in order to represent your case.

Who are you? (I don't mean your name, but maybe the question is better put: *What* are you?) You speak about yourself in the first person plural and claim to have information that is not available to the typical mystery shopper - such as compensation for leasing professionals when they are shopped. Moreover, your state that Cirrus folks have cited not knowing how to pay business accounts. This all suggests that you represent an organization as opposed to an individual shopper?

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I wish you well. I worked for them and after taking three months, I just couldn't do it anymore. Try Primo they pay within the week, or ellis and they pay monthly.
The suggestion someone was bankrupt might generate sympathy, even if they have not officially filed in US Federal and it's not yet in the record. When people have struggles, you'd want to give them every chance to pay the obligation on workout. Court is a last resort. But unresponsive for over a year to notices and the BBB complaint might be trying the patience of a saint. Could be nearing the last resort at that point. I agree.
I checked. The BBB complaint is there. It shows under number of complaints. There is a complaint number assigned. I can try to repost it for you if you want to read it.
@Eric in Tampa wrote:

Yeah, the BBB will get shoppers paid (eye roll).

I think the idea is along the lines of accountability, not necessarily payment. The BBB is not a collection agency. That is understood. However, BBB states the company's non-payment record impacts rating. They rate for trustworthiness, reliability, meeting contractual obligations. The BBB states in its correspondence to complainants that all complaints are kept on file and if a pattern emerges, action is taken, even when your status as a contractor does not fit within a category for active mediation.
@Eric in Tampa wrote:

Yeah, the BBB will get shoppers paid (eye roll).

At the end of this reply is the BBB publication on how they handle complaints. It includes business-to-business marketplace, not just consumer categories. BBB has an ethical obligation to report patterns of unreliability and misconduct if they become aware of them.

On the business-to-business side, Cirrus Marketing Intelligence falsely advertises it recruits other businesses to perform evaluations for fee. Cirrus accepts the work of the business-to-business contractor, and misleads them to believe payment is forthcoming. The company confirms receipt of contractor work product with positive feedback, yet does not pay some percentage of those recruited.

If everyone who was not paid filed a claim, there would be a cumulative record of it with BBB in addition to records in other public databases, like small claims judgments, district court judgments, or in Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian credit reporting databases (skip tracing databases that track non-payment of contractual obligations nationwide).

Although the BBB states they extract public data on violations of government regulations, it states it does not extract public data from private suits such as small claims or district court. There is no good reason they should omit small claims or district court judgments, but they explicitly omit them from routine record searches impacting BBB ratings. How do you enter them in the record, then? The only way to enter small claims and district court public data into the BBB database is to include your judgment in a BBB complaint where it remains permanently on the BBB record. BBB can not claim they were unaware of the pattern of non-payment or any pattern of public record judgments. The case is receipted and recorded with a BBB complaint number. I am not suggesting BBB is top-tier for effective recovery of contractor losses, but it is another database you can contribute to in the interest of protecting the public.

Even if they never acted on it at BBB, you have done your duty to protect the public. No one can say you did not report a known issue when you were fully aware of it. Reporting substantiated cases of non-payment for accepted work is an ethical obligation when you see the recruiting continues, and reports of non-payment are widespread and growing. Official reporting, not an informal comment on a forum or an internet star rating, is an ethical obligation in that case to prevent others from suffering the same harm.

As an aside, we probably need an industry database. It would not hurt to collect that data with redacted documentation of acceptance of the work and non-payment.

The BBB statement follows. Based on the status of my non-payment case as defined by the BBB below, I would file under different provisions. So, for example, if my non-payment case had never been litigated in small claims or district court, and I were to file an unlitigated BBB complaint, it would be for false advertising. That is your actionable category with BBB. And that is the case. False advertising is inclusive of any case where you were led to believe something the company advertised was true when it was not. Their recruiting ads stated they paid for work completed to specification. You completed the work. The company confirms it received your work. The company confirms your work was completed to specification. The company did not pay you as it advertised it would. It is marginally actionable by BBB, but it must be transmitted by BBB to the non-payor and actively mediated until resolved.

If litigated, and I have obtained a small claims judgment for non-payment, I would file what is referred to as a FYI (For Your Information) complaint, asking the BBB to keep the information on file, and I would include a copy of the judgment. I would file the same judgment with my report to the credit bureaus to substantiate Cirrus's non-payment. I would e-file the judgment in all 50 states. When people do public records searches in a home state, not inclusive of all 50 states, the record appears. It is better public protection.

One tip concerning BBB complaints. Do not file in more than one category. BBB does not appear to know what to do with it. There is no capacity for complexity there. Don't ask for two actions in one complaint even if they give you the option in checklist form. If you do have a request for more than one action, file one at a time, separate complaints. Based on your status, file
1) Unlitigated complaint, false advertising
2) Unlitigated complaint, FYI.
3) Litigated complaint for non-payment, FYI copy of judgment attached.

Your duty to warn is done. If the file gets thick enough, it likely goes to the DA who has a duty to prosecute and effect restitution. After God, the DA is probably the best bet for intervention.

I am going to assume it wouldn't hurt to petition God while you are carrying out your duty to warn if you happen to be a faith-based individual. You can always ask those who are to petition for you if you are not. I hear God's database is inerrant and there's some omniscience and omnipresence involved.

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@5432GA wrote:

I checked. The BBB complaint is there. It shows under number of complaints. There is a complaint number assigned. I can try to repost it for you if you want to read it.

@MFJohnston wrote:

Again, I'm not doubting your story - I'm just pointing out that it is strange.

I agree. It is beyond strange. I have worked in legitimate industries my entire work life with highly educated, successful people and reputable organizations. I have never seen the things I have witnessed in this industry. It is something like 'The Bad News Bears' meets 'Gremlins', the evil gremlins, not the cute and innocent ones.

I don't have any illusions about it. You know the expression. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. For the most part, unless there are substantial reforms, the industry does not have the makings of success for the field. It is a losing proposition for the field who has to deal with violation of living wage mandate and fair labor practice, unreliable payors, and insufficient volume. Most who have the full view of it transition to something better. They dump the sow's ear. A few recent reforms have come about with regard to timely receivables with some MSCs, but the volume is still inadequate. It appears systematically constrained. Nationwide, you have about $100 to $500 per municipality. Each municipality roughly equates a geographic mini-metro up to a full MSA, (metropolitan statistical area), about a 100-mile radius from each city center. With the rotation factor, no small business owner can stay in one municipality and survive. Routers have to cover a larger radius or travel constantly to earn merely poverty wage. I think volume increase at fair wage has to be the number one priority. Non-payors really don't help.

As to strange, the person pictured under Valeria Valencia's name is of an Eastern European descent and whoever answered to that name on previous ocassions did not have a Native American Indian or Hispanic accent. The person who answered the phone recently does have a Native American Indian or Hispanic accent. The account manager who worked for three years on the same accounts and had several work-related conversations with me asked during the most recent conversation, 'What kind of work do you do for Cirrus?' Bizzare question coming from the person who claims to manage the property management evaluation accounts. What kind of work do I do for Cirrus? The kind you managed for three years. How would you not know the work if you are looking at the log and managing the accounts?

So, yes, strange goings on. Further speculation about how strange will not result in resolution. I think the facts are the important thing.

@MFJohnston wrote:

I have a couple of other questions: Why not just file in small claims? If you have sent all the certified letters and have the documentation of the acceptance of your shops, etc., as you say, the small claims case is a slam dunk. It's clear that you've already put forth all the effort you would need in order to represent your case.

A few factors. I want to give them time to respond in good faith in case the unofficial bankruptcy report is accurate. It may be they are truly bankrupt but have not filed officially. Obviously, waiting too long could result in being unpaid for seven years if the bankruptcy is ultimately filed. They would receive a creditor write-off essentially. That is why I say it is probably a matter of protecting the public through fair credit and other reporting after providing the non-payor sufficient notice.

The documentation factor. It is well documented and a clear case. There is no rush. There is no rush especially since I am not likely to see payment if they are either bankrupt or bad faith actors. Entering the record is all a contractor can reasonably do under those circumstances. If there had been communication at all from the responsible payor, I would not consider obtaining a judgment.

The distaste factor. I find it distasteful to have to file. Having no other choice says something about their nature I don't want to admit. Being forced to admit it is akin to saying the persons and their behavior are reprehensible. I would like to believe there is an explanation that reflects better on their nature. If there is one, they have not communicated it.

I admit, it does look hopeless after a year. No other option, really, when all other avenues have been exhausted with no response from the payor. No apology or acknowledgement from the Monnie Howard email address or by return phone call. No return of the payment arrangement. Decent people don't behave that way. All indications are we are not dealing with a very high level of decency.

@MFJohnston wrote:

Who are you? (I don't mean your name, but maybe the question is better put: *What* are you?) You speak about yourself in the first person plural and claim to have information that is not available to the typical mystery shopper - such as compensation for leasing professionals when they are shopped.

The information regarding how leasing agents are compensated is available to any contracted survey researcher who has water cooler conversations with Cirrus. If you ask about informed consent, KPIs, or professional development, you receive answers. You are entitled to know. Part of your responsibility as a business owner and independent contractor is performing your due diligence. If there were no informed consent, you would be doing something very unethical. If there were no incentives for leasing agent participation, it might impact how you do your work as a 1099 contractor. You might limit your visits to 20 or 30 minutes for instance. Those are need-to-know questions. Project managers and account managers have to disclose. There is nothing secret, or there should not be, about how the programs work. I often cross-verify informed consent on revealed compliance audits to ensure there is ethical participation. There is one company who claimed they consented all participants, had them sign a consent form to blind evaluations. The participants stated they were never informed and had not signed consents. You just ask. Trust but verify. I do not evaluate anyone who has not received KPIs or has not consented to participation. It is not fair, ethical or honest.

@MFJohnston wrote:

Moreover, your state that Cirrus folks have cited not knowing how to pay business accounts. This all suggests that you represent an organization as opposed to an individual shopper?

I guess I was not clear. Cirrus and the entire industry comprised of 100 to 500 active MSCs require a 1099 business registration. Every researcher who contracts with an MSC represents his or her own business. There is no such thing as an individual shopper in this industry who is not a business entity (I should say researcher. The term shopper trivializes what we do).

When you agree to the contract, you represent you are formed as a business entity. A 1099 is exclusively a business registration. You are either a sole proprietor of a business, or you are formed as a corporation or an LLC, or a non-profit, etc. When you contract with re-marketers (MSCs), you are representing you have formed a business and you officially and formally represent that business. It does not matter whether you have employees, volunteers, or do your extraordinary work wearing a super-researcher cape within a mere 24-hours of the earth's rotation without employees or volunteers. You are a business entity. The fact that Cirrus states they will only contract with a business entity, but three years into the relationship states they do not know how to pay a business entity is inexplicable. They have without question paid business entities. They have paid them using the contractor DBA and EIN.

If I register my United States DBA as ABC Statistical Service and my EIN is 12-3456789, then the payor sends my check or other form of payment to ABC Statistical Service. They don't make payment to my personal name or report income to my SSN. The payor reports at year's end on a 1099 statement all earned income exceeding the reporting threshold. Industry-wide, payors enter the EIN and DBA, in this case ABC Statistical Service, on the 1099.

Each MSC is registered in the exact same manner in the US. The registration is not foreign to a US-based MSC. Only alien and foreign entities or alien or foreign employees of the MSC would not know what a DBA or EIN is. US businesses and most US persons do know that. There is a field in the MSC contract for EIN specifically, and an indicator the contractor selects that says, 'This is my business EIN.' There is no denying that from the beginning, they request a business EIN, and know you are a business. They contract after reviewing the status in your profile. If they wanted to maintain they do not pay businesses, they would have to have refrained from contracting with anyone who has 1099 status and has entered an EIN. To the contrary, they offer them priority scheduling. They can't say they did not know a contractor's status, that they do not pay businesses, or do not know how to pay businesses. They solicit and pay them routinely. Business-to-business is their relationship of choice.

For Monnie Howard, the US principal registered at Cirrus, to state she does not know how to pay a business entity when she represents one, and Cirrus obviously receives client payments as a business entity, would be the farthest thing from credible. That is why it sounds like phishing. If you have an EIN, you do not have to provide an SSN. It's invasive to demand one or try to hold payment hostage for a SSN.

Monnie Howard did not ever respond to calls or email, but the Valeria Valencia person did. Valeria Valencia attributes the incredible statement to Cirrus, and in a 'Who's on first, I don't know's on second,' manner refers to the unanswered phone and unresponsive email address purportedly belonging to Monnie Howard. Valeria uses the first-person plural stating, 'We do not pay businesses.'

Later, after receiving documentation of the Cirrus requirement and industry-wide preference for DBA and EIN, the person answering to the name Valeria Valencia states, 'The payment is pending.' This can not be the same person who has processed payments for the last several years. The person who processed payment over the time period has seen that they are paid and how they are paid.

Whoever answered to the name Valeria Valencia sounds foreign and alien over the phone, so it is possible she is their monkey wrench. Or she has been tasked with giving the run-around to unpaid contractors. Cirrus demanded a business registration and for three years they paid a business. Suddenly they can't figure it out? The same people, they claim, who have been running the company for the last three years can not find the transmission button when they see the same DBA and EIN they have paid for three years? Not credible.

Aside from all the strange claims of sudden-onset incompetence at Cirrus and the credibility issues, I hope this clarifies the status of US independent contractors working under 1099 provision with re-marketers generally. Contractors are not employees. They are entitled to use DBA and EIN. The contractor determines the business structure, how it will operate, whether the owner will perform the work, hire employees, or use volunteers for carrying out the company's purposes.

The MSC can not under 1099 provision dictate anything regarding the contractor's means of accomplishing the work. They have no input regarding what methods the contractor uses to meet specifications. They can not manage. They can not supervise. They can give specifications. They can evaluate the result. They are beyond their scope if they do more than that. Specifications are things like, 'Interview the agent at this location on these days of the week. Complete the survey by midnight. Provide the level of detail shown in the example. Record the call. Photograph these six areas at the onsite visit.' They can only evaluate the end result and whether it meets specifications. That is one of the most important factors in a 1099 determination. It is a major differentiator between employee-employer relationships and independent contractor relationships. They can not speak to how a contractor operates his or her business. 1099 allows a broad range of business structures and practices. The MSC has nothing to do with the structure or the administration of a 1099 contractor's business.

It does not matter how we are registered ultimately. That is really a side-show distraction in the non-payment circus at Cirrus. The fact is they received the work, accepted the work as done to specification, did not pay their contractual obligation under any registration, personal or business, did not respond to offer of payment arrangement, and the identified payor ultimately responsible was unresponsive. Those are the unfortunate facts we are certain of.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/16/2020 07:30AM by SRS-SurveyResearchSpecialist.
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