Kern and Ipsos

@SoCalMama wrote:

@salisburync wrote:

Mama...love your posts...but if a couple or three are "bitter" in their posts about KSS, then the silent majority holds a lot more...
I’ve had a couple of issues over the years. Once with Bestmark and twice now with IPSOS. Overall, I’m so far ahead of the game with both of them, it’s ok in the long run.

While I appreciate your support and understanding, I just want to be clear that KSS has never scheduled for Bestmark in our 24 year history. I do not doubt that there have been minor issues that we try very hard to resolve, just don't want to make Bestmark take the blame for our mistakes. smiling smiley

When there is an issue, we work hard to resolve it. We are also very loyal to tried and true shoppers. There have been so many "mark" MSP's in our nearly lifetime of working together, it was probably another one.. lol.

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@Lorri Kern KSS wrote:

@SoCalMama wrote:

@salisburync wrote:

Mama...love your posts...but if a couple or three are "bitter" in their posts about KSS, then the silent majority holds a lot more...
I’ve had a couple of issues over the years. Once with Bestmark and twice now with IPSOS. Overall, I’m so far ahead of the game with both of them, it’s ok in the long run.

While I appreciate your support and understanding, I just want to be clear that KSS has never scheduled for Bestmark in our 24 year history. I do not doubt that there have been minor issues that we try very hard to resolve, just don't want to make Bestmark take the blame for our mistakes. smiling smiley

When there is an issue, we work hard to resolve it. We are also very loyal to tried and true shoppers. There have been so many "mark" MSP's in our nearly lifetime of working together, it was probably another one.. lol.

Yeah, I know that. Hopefully nobody inferred that I meant KSS scheduled any of those jobs. My issues with Bestmark and IPSOS had nothing to do with KSS. Just pointing out that sometimes, you just have to let it go and it will all work out in the end.

Bestmark screwed me on one $20 job and I probably did $50,000 worth of work for them over the years.
IPSOS and I disagreed over about $50 worth of work, and I do tens of thousands of dollars worth of work for them every year now. So, it wasn't worth fighting over.

If I ever had an issue with KSS, I'd just fight it out with Lorri, cage-match style. hahahaha
There are 3 major gas station brands in my general area that are evaluated by Ipsos on a quarterly basis. This means that the end of March is a theoretical deadline for all three of them. One of them has been scheduled by Ipsos schedulers all along, one was with Kern and recently handed back to Ipsos, and one remains with Kern.

I have been given reasonable amounts of money to do very remote routes for the two projects that are with Ipsos. I asked for the same reasonable amounts for the same locations for the project that is still with Kern, and my request was denied. I am literally driving right by the kern-controlled locations as I am doing my route. If they would even give $50 for some I might consider it. But they won't. Certainly, it is their prerogative to say no, and it is my prerogative to pass them by. That said, we now have about a week left to get them done. How do they expect to get these locations shopped without going over the $30 amount? I just don't think it is possible. There are still so many locations on the board, and some of them are not even in remote locations. There are cities with multiple locations that are still sitting on the board at $30 a pop.

Remote routes take planning and take time. If kern doesn't start offering the amount of money required, they are going to run out of time. Especially since they are missing the boat with shoppers like me that could have helped them out if they had been reasonable. This project is also suffering from the move from the Maritz platform to Sassie, and they are taking more time to complete. Shoppers like me are also keener to continue to help out the schedulers that have been reasonable with them leading up to the end of the month as well. I explained this to Kern earlier in the quarter, and all I got back for my honesty was a nasty email telling me that I didn't know what I was talking about. Not surprisingly, that account was taken away from Kern and is currently paying reasonable amounts to get sites done. Now the last gas account they had is about to implode.
I’m completely free do do the one that’s in BFE, but only 30 minutes from my lab. Guess I’ll see what the rate is at 3 pm on March 31?
@thunderdeacon wrote:

There are 3 major gas station brands in my general area that are evaluated by Ipsos on a quarterly basis. This means that the end of March is a theoretical deadline for all three of them. One of them has been scheduled by Ipsos schedulers all along, one was with Kern and recently handed back to Ipsos, and one remains with Kern.

I have been given reasonable amounts of money to do very remote routes for the two projects that are with Ipsos. I asked for the same reasonable amounts for the same locations for the project that is still with Kern, and my request was denied. I am literally driving right by the kern-controlled locations as I am doing my route. If they would even give $50 for some I might consider it. But they won't. Certainly, it is their prerogative to say no, and it is my prerogative to pass them by. That said, we now have about a week left to get them done. How do they expect to get these locations shopped without going over the $30 amount? I just don't think it is possible. There are still so many locations on the board, and some of them are not even in remote locations. There are cities with multiple locations that are still sitting on the board at $30 a pop.

Remote routes take planning and take time. If kern doesn't start offering the amount of money required, they are going to run out of time. Especially since they are missing the boat with shoppers like me that could have helped them out if they had been reasonable. This project is also suffering from the move from the Maritz platform to Sassie, and they are taking more time to complete. Shoppers like me are also keener to continue to help out the schedulers that have been reasonable with them leading up to the end of the month as well. I explained this to Kern earlier in the quarter, and all I got back for my honesty was a nasty email telling me that I didn't know what I was talking about. Not surprisingly, that account was taken away from Kern and is currently paying reasonable amounts to get sites done. Now the last gas account they had is about to implode.

In all honesty, we are down to less than 1% open on the quarterly shops and 4% open on the monthly shops and still have 9 days left.

We have recruited more than 1050 shoppers into the IPSOS database and they are doing these shops for reasonable fees (reasonable meaning $15-$20).

We will get them done. You don't have to worry about that. We have been doing this for 23 years. We know how to cold call and recruit and that is what we are doing. We are given a budget by IPSOS. Believe me, if I had $50K sitting around, I'd give it to you guys, but I don't. I have what they tell me I have.

Please don't shoot the messenger. We are doing what we are paid to do, and that is to bring in the projects on time and within the budget that they give us. Blaming KSS is silly.
I really appreciate you taking the time to reply and explain the reasons behind your way of doing business. And it is not personal, and I don't feel there is any sadistic or cruel decision behind payment schemes.

I do have to disagree with a few things. $15-$20 is not reasonable for the locations I am referring to. That might be reasonable for someone who can do it close to home, but not when significant driving is required. For these locations, someone is going to have to spend a lot of time driving and depreciating their vehicle. They may have to pay for a motel room. They will have to pay for gas above and beyond any meager fuel reimbursement that the shop(s) offer. I am still skeptical that shoppers can be convinced to drive hundreds of miles for $30. Private contractors are in the business of making money. I don't care what the budget is or the situation; that has nothing to do with me. If I can't make money doing something, I'm not going to do it. Driving a hundred miles for $30 isn't going to make any money. Unless significant pay is offered for these locations, I just don't see them getting done. I hope the client doesn't mind.

That said, I could be wrong, and if I am I will admit it. I look forward to seeing how many locations are left, if any, on the 31st.
As a good businessperson, I would strongly suggest taking the calculated risk of letting it ride for a while. You can balance the possibility of making quite a bit of $$$ with the somewhat minor chance that you will lose out on the opportunity. But what would you be missing out on? $30? That is a risk I would be very willing to take.


@SoCalMama wrote:

I’m completely free do do the one that’s in BFE, but only 30 minutes from my lab. Guess I’ll see what the rate is at 3 pm on March 31?
@SoCalMama wrote:

I’m completely free do do the one that’s in BFE, but only 30 minutes from my lab. Guess I’ll see what the rate is at 3 pm on March 31?

@SoCalMama is a fantastic shopper for KSS and very loyal and has been for 20+ years, but to prove a point here, we recruited a shopper today to do this shop for a $12 bonus. Yes, it's rural, and yes, if @SoCalMama had to drive 30 minutes that way uphill on a one lane mountainous road, it would be worth it to pay her to do it. And we know that if we get desperate, she is a "go to" shopper and would do it for us, however, she doesn't want to do it and shouldn't have to spend over an hour commuting to do a shop for $12 bonus. We get that.

Our job as schedulers is to find people that are local, and recruit shoppers where it makes sense for them to do it at the rates our clients are willing to pay.

Obviously, if you have to drive an hour+ to do a shop, you should be fairly compensated for that time.

Just know that our job is to find people that live near the locations. That is what we are paid to do. We spend 8 to 10 hours a day on the phone cold calling local establishments and recruiting shoppers to do the shops at the budget we are provided. If we can't, we eat it. But that is the exception, not the rule.

I'd never drive 30-60 minutes each way for $12.50 or even $25, maybe not even $50. I understand all of your plights. I started as a mystery shopper 25 years ago before I started my company in 1998.

But we will not offer ridiculous bonuses for shoppers to shop 5 miles from their homes. The budget doesn't allow it. And you'd be shocked at how many people expect that.

We are all in the same business, and honestly, the viability of mystery shopping is hanging in the balance. I think it's important that we all work together. It is not the schedulers against the shoppers. It's not the MSPs against the shoppers.

Mystery shops these days are going for ridiculously low amounts to end clients because everyone is fighting for business. No one is getting rich off of mystery shopping, least of all the MSPs and scheduling companies. If it wasn't for PPP, KSS would have been gone months ago.

No one is out to screw anyone over. We are all struggling to stay in business. Don't do anything that doesn't make sense for you. I wouldn't. But please stop acting like we are trying to get rich on your backs.. we aren't, we are just trying to pay our employees during a pandemic. (not directed at you @SoCalMama , just providing general commentary).

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2021 07:25AM by Lorri Kern KSS.
KSS Lorri, wow. The above post was not what I wanted to hear. But is was what I NEEDED to hear. You always provide good insight to help us understand what goes on regarding the aspects of mystery shopping that many of us are not directly privy to. Thank you!

sestrahelena
@Lorri Kern KSS wrote:

We have recruited more than 1050 shoppers into the IPSOS database and they are doing these shops for reasonable fees (reasonable meaning $15-$20).

$15-$20 for a Sassie-based gas station shop that requires at LEAST 45 minutes on-site to perform properly, in a pandemic, requiring a cash outlay plus driving time is “reasonable?”

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

OK, Marie Antoinette. Minimum wage in my state is higher than that. Good luck with that.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2021 02:27PM by ColoKate63.
I was not happy with the switch from the prior company to Ipsos because I used to do a lot of gas stations for the prior company at reasonable rates. The last gas station I did was in the prior year. I won't take most at base rate, but it appears there are many shoppers who will. That's life. I have moved on to doing other shops.
If this is true, then I really worry about the long-term viability of gas station mystery shopping. There are so many extremely remote locations. If you can find someone in some of these tiny towns hundreds of miles from population centers, then I commend you. But I am skeptical. There are still dozens of shops available in my region, and they are really remote. If you don't have the budget to pay someone a reasonable amount to drive that far, then I wish you the best of luck in trying to find someone. But in many of these small towns are very small and very remote, and it would take a major miracle to find someone local.




@Lorri Kern KSS wrote:


We are all in the same business, and honestly, the viability of mystery shopping is hanging in the balance. I think it's important that we all work together. It is not the schedulers against the shoppers. It's not the MSPs against the shoppers.

Mystery shops these days are going for ridiculously low amounts to end clients because everyone is fighting for business. No one is getting rich off of mystery shopping, least of all the MSPs and scheduling companies. If it wasn't for PPP, KSS would have been gone months ago.

No one is out to screw anyone over. We are all struggling to stay in business. Don't do anything that doesn't make sense for you. I wouldn't. But please stop acting like we are trying to get rich on your backs.. we aren't, we are just trying to pay our employees during a pandemic. (not directed at you @SoCalMama , just providing general commentary).
I do miss the Maritz schedulers we got to know over the years as they got to know us. They were well aware who would complete a hard to do job on time and correctly. And, it's just not as effective communicating by text as it is by actual conversation as too much information gets left out.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2021 03:59PM by loydrock.
I totally understand what you are saying, and as @Lorri Kern KSS said, no one will force you to do a shop you aren't comfortable with. But just as she said, our job is to find the closest shopper who will do the job for the amount of money the client finds appropriate. It would be much easier for all schedulers to just pay the same shoppers $50 per shop every quarter and give it to you the first week. I'd love that! I would have a shopper I can count on who has done the shop multiple times in the past get it done right away, and then spend the rest of the quarter laying on a beach in Hawaii counting my money!

Seriously though, it's just not how it is. Every quarter (or month depending on the shop), it is my job to find a shopper who will complete the job correctly, on time, and for the money proposed. In fact, majority of companies don't want us to use the same shopper every time to get different perspectives. Now if I can't find a shopper within a certain period of time for that amount, after a while I can increase the pay a couple of dollars at a time to see if someone who may be slightly further away is enticed.

My best example is always Thief River Falls, Minnesota. I had a shop that had to be done there every other month, and it was by far the hardest location for me. If you look on the map, you will see that it is significantly closer to Canada than to any populated area of the US, but not nearly close enough to be convenient for a Canadian. So I would always pay a shopper so much money to do it ($150 for a pretty simple shop). But then I found a shopper who traveled through there once a month. He happened to just see it one time and pick it up, and then I found out that he traveled there, so I could pay him $14 instead of $150 to get the same job done. From that point forward, as long as he was going that way I no longer had to pay $150 and the client was obviously much happier about that. If I had just paid $150 to another shopper, the shop location wouldn't have been on the job board, and I would have never known him.

I recognize a lot of long-time shoppers liked working with Maritz schedulers who spoke to them on the phone for a while, got to really know them, etc. I get that. But I'm also sure that most shoppers understand that it is much more effective for a scheduler to send a mass text, or even a short personalized one, than to call and have a conversation. Personally, I find texting gets me the best and fastest results. Now I still talk to shoppers on the phone when needed, and I do enjoy having conversations with some, but it is more the exception than the norm. In addition, from what I recall from information provided to me, all of the Maritz schedulers were paid hourly. So to them, it didn't matter nearly as much if they filled 1 shop or 100 shops, as they were paid the same either way. For me, 1 shop or 100 shops is the difference between paying my mortgage or sending my kids to preschool, because most (I would probably estimate 85-90%) of schedulers are paid per shop, not hourly. And to be honest, there have been times in the past that I or other schedulers were replaced because we used too much bonus money, etc.

I know this doesn't take away the sting of not getting the same pay for shops that you might have been used to, but I hope it provides some perspective.

Thank you!

Kate Rattner, Mystery Shop Scheduler

kateschedules@gmail.com



Sign up for my database for several shop opportunities!
[docs.google.com]
Here’s what I’m getting from this thread, Cliffs Notes version:

Shoppers: We are working on an antiquated, inefficient platform during a pandemic and need to be paid accordingly. We were paid “x” amount previously, in non-pandemic times, and believe that is a fair wage for our efforts.

KSS, Lorri Kern: Not going to even acknowledge the pandemic conditions. Not going to pay previous pay rate. Instead, we are signing 1,000+ new shoppers and going with them instead. $15-$20 per location is fair compensation.

Me: I am avoiding dealing with schedulers entirely by self-assigning and/or using apps like Presto. Tired, very tired, of the inefficiency and the drama involved with schedulers. Looking forward to a future of 100% app-driven mystery shopping.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2021 05:57PM by ColoKate63.
Kate, I always really enjoy reading your messages. I am so impressed that you take the time to explain your point of view. And I understand 100% what you are saying. What I am saying, however, is that there are at least three major gas station brands coming due at the end of march. there are still hundreds of locations out there and we have one week left. I understand about budgets. I understand about the desire to get them done with local shoppers that won't require large bonuses. But the reality of it is that this is not working. this might work for other projects but it's not working with the gas stations. There are too many gas stations that are way out in the middle of nowhere. Also, these clients are expecting that every location gets done. if bonuses don't start getting paid, they're not going to get done. Nobody's going to be driving to eagle pass Texas or Seminole Texas or some of these locations in Colorado that are 200 mi from Denver up in the mountains. It's all coming to a head. I just don't think there's any way to get all of the locations done without paying a major bonuses for these remote locations. The point I was trying to make is that some projects are starting to pay out, and their locations are going to get done. If Kern refuses to go over $30, there are going to have hundreds of locations that won't get done. the idea that they can find a local shopper in every single area by calling people is admirable but unrealistic. At what point do they realize they're going to have to start paying? I'm not talking about doing locations in big cities. I'm not talking about relatively easy routes. I'm talking about the hard ones.

the other issue is that ipsos has decided to make the projects and schedulers compete with each other. That is brutally cruel. for example, if the three project managers got together and offered me a route with 50 locations for $50, I would probably take it. They would all be on the same route. I would get paid, the budget wouldn't get trashed, and everyone would be happy. But instead, the teams don't work together.

In the end,if the budgets are as limited and as dire as is being described here, I wonder how long ipsos is going to be in the business of gas stations.all of you schedulers are amazing at what you do, but you are not magicians. You cannot magically make people appear in random places. There's only so much that y'all can accomplish without getting some help.
@ColoKate63

I don't know if I know you outside of your forum name, and to be honest, I never really try to figure these things out. But two things you mentioned really stand out:

1. I agree that app-driven mystery shopping as well as automated customer surveys for "a chance to win a free meal" after you go somewhere have been happening and will continue to grow. I've got to tell you that I literally know clients who have stopped paying shoppers completely and cancelled their programs because they can get free feedback from customers for sharing their thoughts at a chance for a free meal (therefore basically no cost to them). And while clicking yes on an app is much easier, good luck negotiating with an app. Even with Presto, if you want higher pay or a route, you can't just request it on the app, you have to speak to someone. And as these apps become more well-known and accessible to more people, clients can just continue to pay less.

2. I totally understand you are frustrated, and I get it. I was getting paid more per shop pre-pandemic as well. And as you and I both know, as independent contractors we are all fully entitled to choose how we handle our work and time. But if I said the same thing to my boss as you are saying above, I'd have no work. Picture this:

Dear ("MSC"winking smiley,
I received your offer and I am extremely offended by it. Last year in February 2020, I was making almost DOUBLE what you are offering for similar work, and I had resources then that I no longer have. Until you fix this and pay me MORE than then because I am now working harder for less money, I refuse to work with you and I will complain about it publicly until then.

Here is what I imagine the reply would be:
Dear ('Me"winking smiley,
Thank you for working with us. As we experienced a worldwide pandemic, and millions lost in expected revenue, we are currently working with much different numbers than previously expected. In addition, while we recognize that you were paid XX per job, there are currently many people out of work who would jump at the chance to be making anything. If you are unwilling to accept the terms proposed, we understand and will try to find someone else who will. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Again, I totally get it, things changed, pandemic happened, a lot of things aren't as great as they used to be. There are millions more unemployed, and significantly fewer job opportunities right now. We all do what we need to do. I can't speak for clients or companies, but I can assure you that I don't know a single scheduler or editor or is just sitting there counting their millions while you are asked to perform shops for less than you used to. It's REALLY not a scheduler vs. shopper scenario.

Thank you!

Kate Rattner, Mystery Shop Scheduler

kateschedules@gmail.com



Sign up for my database for several shop opportunities!
[docs.google.com]
@krattner

My early March gas station shops on Presto paid out $25 per location, were easier to complete than a Sassie-based platform, and I was in/out in under 30 minutes.

Not everything on Presto is chicken feed. I’ve performed $35 gas stations on Presto in 2020. I imagine that the higher pay in part reflects the lack of a scheduler middleman to pay. And there’s zero drama, no ugly emails, and just little blue pins to hit along my routes that require nothing from me.

All respect, but you schedulers aren’t the ones out taking photos in below freezing weather, dealing with the various homeless or addicted folk drifting through gas stations. You are not standing at registers with nearby customers yelling maskless at cashiers during COVID (spraying droplets everywhere) and photographing filthy toilets.

You guys are nice and warm behind your laptops on your couches or at your kitchen tables. I don’t think that you understand or value our work.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2021 07:46PM by ColoKate63.
And, on another note: we mystery shoppers are generating a LOT of revenue for MSPs, in the form of fines paid by the station owners. How? Some MSPs have written contracts wherein they get a substantial cut of those penalties if their ICs are the ones documenting them.

I’ve got a wealthy friend who married into a family with dozens of gas stations, each of which generates $1M+ annually. We had a little chat recently. Those violations we’re documenting (ESPECIALLY the drug paraphernalia) - at often great risk to our personal safety - come with hefty fines, sometimes up to $10,000 per violation.

We see none of it, but we’re the ones charged with taking photos of the bongs and the pipes and the synthetic urine, at a “reasonable “ $15-20 per location.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2021 07:17PM by ColoKate63.
@thunderdeacon likewise, I always enjoy reading what you write. And appreciate your respectfulness, even if views differ. Like I said, I really don’t know who forum writers are unless it’s obvious, but have you tried emailing the schedulers for all of the projects? I know I did have one shopper who recently did that yesterday, but the quarters are actually different for certain gas stations. For example, I’m scheduling one right now where the quarter is actually February-April, so while if my project ended in March, the project manager might be more willing to agree to much higher bonuses, right now we still have over 35 days to get it done so they will only go so high.

That said, I have had shoppers email me before when there were multiple projects for the same company and try to work something out amongst the schedulers (which is really the project managers most of the time who actually make the decision). Obviously a mystery shopping company won’t care about helping another mystery shopping company, but if it’s within the same company it’s usually much more negotiable.

Some shops also just happen to pay much better then others. For example, I currently have PHONE shops that pay $40. And the reports are fairly easy. And the visits that go along with that client pay $60-65. So what I would try to do is find a higher paying job like that and then add on one of the gas jobs and ask for a little more.

When I was shopping, which I really haven’t done in a long time, I also knew which companies would pay for really big bonuses (a specific company that handled banks comes to mind). So I might try to ease the blow of a lower paying job by trying to snatch one of those.

I also recently had a client that honestly didn’t care about getting 100 percent as much as they usually do. They obviously wanted as many done as possible but just didn’t want to pay more than a small amount over what was originally budgeted for, so only 95-96 percent were done. Not the norm, and I don’t know if it’s true for any of the gas stations, but I just wanted to share that tidbit.

Thank you!

Kate Rattner, Mystery Shop Scheduler

kateschedules@gmail.com



Sign up for my database for several shop opportunities!
[docs.google.com]
I get what you are saying. That said, I completely disagree with you in regards to you thinking that schedulers don’t get what shoppers are dealing with. Forgetting about the typical “empathy” that most people have, almost every company I know will only hire schedulers (particularly new schedulers) who have shopping experience. In fact, the only reason I wound up getting into scheduling was actually a random email I got from one of the companies I shopped on the side for while I was still teaching full-time. There are at least two companies I’ve worked with that not only required you to have past shopping experience, but required you to complete at least a few of their shops before you could be hired or work with them. So while you are accurate that most of the time when I’m scheduling I am home in a warm room (though I try not to be on the couch because I don’t focus as well), I assure you we are not some type of millionaire NFL owner who has never played football.

I’m not sure what type of email interactions you’ve recently had with schedulers that were so awful, and I hope I wasn’t one of them, but other than the occasional email from a shopper who may be upset or angry that their shop wasn’t accepted (which actually has nothing to do with me), all of my interactions with shoppers are generally pretty pleasant. If a shopper requests a higher amount in an email I usually sent that to the account manager (it’s their decision, not mine), and then I let the shopper know what they said. I’m not sure if you can share here how these conversations with schedulers have been so nasty without naming anyone or giving yourself away, but I would actually be curious to know.

You are pretty on point when you can the schedulers the middle-man, we really don’t get to make decisions that much! Our job is just to find more people for the “other end” of the middle-man scenario for the client. I promise you no scheduler (or scheduling company, or most mystery shop companies in fact) are not giving you a $50 bonus because they are pocketing it for themselves.

That said, if you really think scheduling is a cush job, why don’t you just do that? I don’t even mean for that to sound sarcastic, I’m legit. Some people LOVE doing gas shops, bank shops etc, and they find the pay decent enough to do it. I personally wasn’t that person...gas shops were my least favorite type, probably for most of the reasons you listed, and they just weren’t worth it to me. Honestly I probably wouldn’t have been happy doing them even for a good pay rate. I’m much happier scheduling now, and just choosing the few shops I want to do (which are food and hotel in normal times, as well as the occasional bank shop).

One other thing, when you mentioned your friend who married into the wealthy family with the gas stations, how much do you think that family pays their employees? I’m sure it’s less than $35 per hour, in fact I’m confident it’s probably less than half of that. And I’m not saying that’s right. I’m just saying trying to find people who will do the most work for the lowest pay is pretty much the way the world works (at least our country). I have a friend who works in a hospital, he has for several years. Obviously his job became much higher risk this year (works as a tech in the ER, so the ones that do EKGs etc). One would think his salary and all of those in a hospital would have skyrocketed based on the risks that were taken this year, but he actually shared with me that his W-2 was lower than the year before. His salary was frozen but they required more for benefits.

Heck I even worked as a waitress for a year (I honestly think every single human being should be required to do that because it taught me SO much about the “other” side of food service and how to treat wait staff in general. Waiters don’t even make minimum wage, restaurants aren’t required to pay it. I received around $2 per hour, plus tips. I remember a particularly slow Monday night when I think I made a total of $11. I have to imagine the restaurant owner and overall franchise owner still did fairly well that year, and new people came in when I left who were paid the same way I was.

In the end, we all just have to do what works best for ourselves.

Thank you!

Kate Rattner, Mystery Shop Scheduler

kateschedules@gmail.com



Sign up for my database for several shop opportunities!
[docs.google.com]
Yes, the family who owns gas stations pays their employees minimum wage. Which is $11/hour. No benefits.

They also own a private jet and were bemoaning the fact that they had to cancel their annual family retreat to Bahrain in 2020 due to the pandemic, so there’s that. Insane privilege.

And I sincerely think that apps will replace schedulers within the next 5 years. It’s a business model from the 1990s, slow and inefficient. So pretty much zero interest on my part for becoming a scheduler. Zero.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2021 09:22PM by ColoKate63.
@ColoKate63 wrote:


And I sincerely think that apps will replace schedulers within the next 5 years. It’s a business model from the 1990s, slow and inefficient. So pretty much zero interest on my part for becoming a scheduler. Zero.

People have been saying this since the invention of Prophet, Sassie, ShopMetrics, etc. I used to actually worry a lot about that, but through 23 years (nearly 24!) in this business, I know that this will not actually happen. Mystery shopping will cease to exist before these projects will schedule themselves through an app.

The truth is, shoppers like to interact with a human. Maybe not you, but most shoppers. There is a lot of hand holding that goes on that maybe you do not need, but I'd say 70% of the shops we schedule require 3 to 4 "touches" per shop, meaning emails, due date extensions, helping with guidelines, etc. Human touches, that can't be handled by an app.

I am sorry you have such disdain for schedulers. We are really are here to help and assist and to advocate on your behalf.

FYI, my schedulers are paid a salary (well above minimum wage) and have health insurance, PTO, and 401K - they are not paid by the shop. I treat my team like family. I haven't taken a paycheck since 2/28/2020 to make sure that my staff are paid fairly and on time. The fees that we charge to schedule have dropped from about $8 a shop back in the mid 2000's to as low as $2 a shop now. We aren't cutting into your bonus budget. The end clients (gas stations, etc.) are increasingly expecting more for less. It's the economy that we are in right now, unfortunately.

Just want to reiterate the point that I made (and Kate made) above. It's not us against you. It's just all of us trying to remain viable and eek out a living, just like you.
We can agree to disagree. I’m not saying app-based shopping is a fad. In fact, I remember shopping with apps over 10 years ago (I think the first one I did was FieldAgent).

I also know plenty of people said banks would be a thing of the past 15-20 years ago. Why do we need brick and mortar banks when everything can be done automated and online? Yet somehow while some of the smaller local banks have closed (which sucks), almost every year I see at least a few new Chase banks being built in my area. And those banks employ people, not robots, etc....

Different scenarios require different people. As a shopper I enjoyed apps as well, they were immediate to get assigned to me and the report is usually faster. But those were typically the more simple shops, and normally the low paying ones. They were great when I was already at the mall though, or something similar. I think you are right in the sense that I do think gas shops will be more app-driven. But I have scheduled enough shops to know that some just require more assistance than an app can provide.

And if you’re right? I guess I’ll go back to using those two master’s degrees, one which I haven’t actually used for work yet lol. It will be nice to see that paper be used for something besides hanging in my office!

Thank you!

Kate Rattner, Mystery Shop Scheduler

kateschedules@gmail.com



Sign up for my database for several shop opportunities!
[docs.google.com]
@Lorri Kern KSS seriously, $8 per shop 20 years ago!!! Geez I should have started scheduling back in college ????

Thank you!

Kate Rattner, Mystery Shop Scheduler

kateschedules@gmail.com



Sign up for my database for several shop opportunities!
[docs.google.com]
I am about 99% sure that all three of the gas station projects I'm referencing have a theoretical deadline of March 31st. I am also 99% certain that all three of the gas station projects I am referencing must get 100% completion. I could be wrong, but if I am, it's because something has changed.

I am actually kind of happy that the project you are referencing has a deadline at the end of april. That gives me something to do in april. having everything do on March 31st is a pain in the behind for shoppers and schedulers.
@Lorri Kern KSS wrote:

@ColoKate63 wrote:


And I sincerely think that apps will replace schedulers within the next 5 years. It’s a business model from the 1990s, slow and inefficient. So pretty much zero interest on my part for becoming a scheduler. Zero.

People have been saying this since the invention of Prophet, Sassie, ShopMetrics, etc. I used to actually worry a lot about that, but through 23 years (nearly 24!) in this business, I know that this will not actually happen. Mystery shopping will cease to exist before these projects will schedule themselves through an app.

The truth is, shoppers like to interact with a human. Maybe not you, but most shoppers. There is a lot of hand holding that goes on...

I base my analysis of mystery shop scheduling on an analogous industry: trucking and rail transportation. Until 10-15 years ago, schedulers were a keystone partner in arranging goods from port terminals to final destinations. They did not perform the work, but (just like MS schedulers) they worked off databases of independent truckers to schedule load pickups and deliveries. In the “old days,” they used paper and phone calls, then went to job boards that were run very much like Sassie, Shopmetrics, Prophet, etc.

That entire industry is just about gone, replaced by smartphone apps that run algorithms to grade truckers on performance and assign them loads based on a combination of factors, including driving records, DOT inspections, range of routes desired, and age of primary vehicle.

Truckers made MORE money, not less, after their schedulers disappeared. No one missed them. I make MORE money, not less, from Presto gas stations. The gas station jobs that you were offering for $12.50, then $15.00, started at $18.00 and are now sitting at $25.00 on the Presto App. Same amount of work, identical level of detail, no drama.

And, I’m not sure if it’s a dig to suggest that I don’t “like to interact with a human being.” If it is, well... whatever. I very rarely touch base with a scheduler post-assignment unless it’s to adjust a due date due to weather or road conditions. And, honestly, if you can’t figure out how to open a checking account or take a top to bottom picture of a gas pump - I have only a sad little laugh, because 99.9% of shop instructions (especially for IPSOS) are well-written to the point of overkill.

My “human interactions” are not limited to emails with schedulers. I have a husband, neighbors, friends, children, etc. I’m not lonely, I like the solitude and minimalism of route shopping via app and self-assignment. It’s the future, along with video of course. (*smile*)

Finally, it’s easy to “not take a paycheck” if you are receiving a PPP grant. These types of loans are public, are published under FOIA, and I won’t embarrass you by posting the amount here, but you received a nice chunk of taxpayer money in 2020. So maybe you should measure your words carefully when discussing this aspect of sacrifice to the greater cause, etc. Fact-checking is stunningly easy these days.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2021 10:56PM by ColoKate63.
Ms. Kern, I am reading between the lines when you say you are very loyal to "tried and true" shoppers......which means that anyone else (90% of us), get the stick, right? First thing I learned at Stanford Business School was to listen to what is NOT said!
LK, sounds like excuses to me.....you can quote data and stats until the cows come home, but enough good people on this forum KNOW what is happening AND how to do their jobs! Recruit, select, and turnover....is that the name of the game for you? Does the quality of the data, and the retention of good people mean anything anymore? Don't answer that, just think about it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/26/2021 08:38PM by salisburync.
@salisburync wrote:

Ms. Kern, I am reading between the lines when you say you are very loyal to "tried and true" shoppers......which means that anyone else (90% of us), get the stick, right? First thing I learned at Stanford Business School was to listen to what is NOT said!

You're just being silly now.
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