Is IPSOS Now Too Big - And Its Own Worst Competition?

Up at 0300 with insomnia, flipping around through the job boards, I was pretty startled to see how many stale, Q1 shops are STILL on IPSOS’ two boards, nationwide, today.

And they are now all set against each other for the pandemic-shrunk pool of available shoppers.

IPSOS’ banking clients are competing against gas stations, and they’re both competing against the multitude of cellphone and big box assignments for our 1099 work. In some areas, the pins are so numerous they’re stacked like pancakes, one atop another. I’d hate to be trying to schedule these now; it would be like emptying a swimming pool with a teaspoon.

I’ve never seen anything like it - and this is 2-1/2 weeks before EOQ. And yet the rates are still 20-30% lower than they’d normally be, this close to EOM/EOQ.

What gives? IPSOS is a $2B international company run by Ivy League-educated business types, and I’m just a dumb mystery shopper - what am I missing here?

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@ColoKate63 wrote:

Up at 0300 with insomnia, flipping around through the job boards, I was pretty startled to see how many stale, Q1 shops are STILL on IPSOS’ two boards, nationwide, today.

And they are now all set against each other for the pandemic-shrunk pool of available shoppers.

IPSOS’ banking clients are competing against gas stations, and they’re both competing against the multitude of cellphone and big box assignments for our 1099 work. In some areas, the pins are so numerous they’re stacked like pancakes, one atop another. I’d hate to be trying to schedule these now; it would be like emptying a swimming pool with a teaspoon.

I’ve never seen anything like it - and this is 2-1/2 weeks before EOQ. And yet the rates are still 20-30% lower than they’d normally be, this close to EOM/EOQ.

What gives? IPSOS is a $2B international company run by Ivy League-educated business types, and I’m just a dumb mystery shopper - what am I missing here?

the increase to $17.50 bonus on gas stations was enough to get them moving off the board in my area. i’m guessing it’s similar in other places.
In my opinion, is that they are wanting to pay the least they can. Some schedulers are now asking "Ever thought of being a route shopper?" The prices I can get are about 40% less than the last time I did the same shop routes in 2020. It has been only in the last week I have been able to get a route and that was from the Martz site because KSS Boss said that was the only way to do a route. I have had emails saying that this site is on its death bed but yet it was the only place I got shops. Now I have a route with other shops from Ipsos in the same cities as the first Ipsos routeto help to fill in the time that I had to wait to do the nighttime shops. Maybe this time in 2022 it will be similar to 2020.
I need to clarify my point, I think.

With IPSOS holding so many accounts- and with a limited shopper pool - the shops appear to be competing against each other for the available time from the ICs.

In other words, you guys are focused on gas stations... but I’m seeing a lot of big box retail, cellphone, bank, etc. clients whose shops are languishing on the boards. I like to watch the trends over time, and to my eye it appears like there’s a tremendous amount of work that is just sitting like a big lump at low prices that shoppers aren’t taking.

It’s mid-March, and those shops are usually picked pretty clean. This seems to be a unique situation.
I think that the bank shops are a unique situation. I suspect that they only need to get a percentage of locations completed. I don't think that it is a customer service issue that is being shopped - it's compliance. I think that it is some sort of penalty or mandate that they are done, I would not associate with that bank for any amount of money. I wish that there was an easier way to hide that account, versus selecting the account that I want to see every single time.

I quit doing the gas station audits years ago. Pay is generally too low. It's also too much like "manual labor" which does not appeal to me. I specialize in other types of high dollar shops. As far as the "ever think about being a route shopper?" - some people are so new (or so dense) that this really is "news" to them. They are searching for the lowest common denominator to get these done. It's a lot like MarketForce.

I don't think that their shopper pool is considered "limited" either. KSS has the largest shopper database out of all of the scheduling companies. All of the KSS shoppers now know about IPSOS if they didn't before this year.

Some of the shops that are there are dogs. Health & Safety check - yes please! I can do that report on my phone in under 5 minutes in the parking lot. Go in and talk about a cell phone that I don't own and have to memorize a model and a scenario then spend 20 minutes on the report? Hard pass from me. Buy $200-$300 worth of stuff and then return it - no thanks. Too much work for too little money. I don't care until they get bonused to $200 a location within 20 minutes of my house.
Interesting discussion. What if Ipsos used former MaritzCX employees as independent contractors, especially those familiar with the gas shops, and let them use the V2 platform which is already in place. Just a thought.
I feel like, with everything that's happened over the past two years, that big money is finally starting to have to deal with the fact that fixed income, and low income people, can not do anymore to help them.
Shoppers don't do all of the available shops in an area. One shopper may do banks and electronics. Another shopper may solely do gas stations.

Kate you are looking at all the shops available for your radius. Of course that is going to be shop dense.

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

Kate you are looking at all the shops available for your radius. Of course that is going to be shop dense.

??? Why would my area’s density be thicker with work than, for example, Detroit - or La Jolla, CA???

And today I did gas stations, a bank, two preschools, two storage shops and a video apartment shop. Most of the route shoppers I know do a mix like that, to keep from burnout.

I’m actually planning to do a 7,000 mile cross-country route for EOQ1 2021. Interestingly enough, I had this EXACT route planned in March 2020, so I have notes like “55 locations in NW Atlanta @$27.50 + $10 reimb” that I’m looking at as comparison. I can do an apples to apples comparison since I have the same route and shops as comparison.

Anyway, I’m on my 11th shop today, I’m zonked, two more to go and then it’s pizza, bubble bath and
WandaVision tonight.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2021 10:42PM by ColoKate63.
The shops are finally starting to roll in and the bonus requests are finally being granted. The next 19 days are going to be total insanity for me, but I will finally be making bank. And yes, multiple ipsos schedulers and multiple ipsos projects are now officially competing for my limited time for the rest of the month.
By no means do I have all the answers! But I can tell you from a scheduler’s side that several of the projects on the job board do not need to have every location done. In fact, one of the projects I work on has about 2,000 extra locations on the job board so that all locations are available, and once the quota is hit, the rest of the locations will disappear. That is not true for all projects...I would say maybe a 50/50 split. But you also have to remember that IPSOS has bought at least two of the largest former companies (gfk and maritz), and has all of those resources at their disposal in addition to all of the shoppers who have been reached out to by all of the schedulers and scheduling companies they work with. And in regards to the “pandemic-shrunk pool” I’m finding the opposite. There are more shoppers than ever because in addition to there being less available work for the shoppers who have been at it for years, there are a bunch of people who have lost their job in the past year trying to find new ways of making money such as mystery shopping.
I’ve worked with several companies, and I can assure you IPSOS knows what they are doing.

Thank you!

Kate Rattner, Mystery Shop Scheduler

kateschedules@gmail.com



Sign up for my database for several shop opportunities!
[docs.google.com]
My input from Southern California where we have had a huge surge of virus until only a few weeks ago. Our restaurants and gyms etc are finally opening with limited customers next week. Along with this there are multitudes of shops available on IPSOS but most of those came from some of the other companies they took over/merged with. And they also picked up some shoppers from those msc,. Of course some of the Maritz shoppers were already signed with IPSOS but some were not.
Right now in my market there are tons of people sitll unwilling to go out and do shops. But also those same people are getting vaccinated at a quicker and quicker pace. I think not just once but twice about whether I would want to walk into a retail store or bank to do a shop for a small amt of money and possibly get the virus out of it. And I am not alone. I am pretty sure there will be a surge of shoppers taking all those shops in the next month or two once vaccinated with virus numbers down. I read somewhere in another post about Market Force that there were huge numbers of female shoppers over 65, a very high risk demographic for the virus. In my area that demographic has been largely locked inside their homes for the past year. They will be out with the spring and shopping again.
I haven't been willing to shop in DTLA for longer than we've had this pandemic. The filth, rats, typhus, violence from the mentally ill and homeless people, etc have been enough to keep me away.
I realize that there are other parts of LA, but I am not going near DTLA until they raze it and start over at this point.
I have some hungry shoppers near me. Most of the shops Ipsos has are gone at base rate or only slightly higher. Just a few electronics remain right now. There is one $17.50 bonused shop...4 hours away. And only one.

sestrahelena
I've done over 500 yellow (and other) gas stations over the last 5 years. The reason why IPSOS has moved the fee up (bonus) is because there is NO way a sane person would attempt these shops (which take well over an hour, including processing time, and inane editing time in responding to the nitpicky editors) at $12.50 or even $22.50 per shop! they just are not worth the effort, unless highly bonused.
So, the reason why IPSOS remains so stingy with compensation.....PROFIT....theirs, not yours...supply and demand....some people still like a couple of gallons of gas and a cookie.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/13/2021 02:37PM by salisburync.
Shopmetrics site: is that a frikkin raccoon on Fred's desk??? What is this latest fad with people keeping wild animals in their homes??? Do you want rabies? Worms? Poop in your carpet? Your baby's eyes scratched out? Yes? Ok, carry on, then.

Off topic, so, sorry. A little.

sestrahelena


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/13/2021 03:36PM by sestrahelena.
Last week, I kept seeing the yellow gas stations in my state disappear for 24-36 hours, then reappear. I have a feeling that newer shoppers were like all, "Woo-hoo! 10 gas stations at $17.50! I can make MONEY!" Then, reality hits and they turn the shops back in. Fees are now up another $5.00 as of yesterday. I'm sitting put and waiting. :-) I know my worth as a shopper, so when the number hits, I'll self-assign.

Anyway... I'm going to try One. More. Time. to make my point

The $22.50 yellow gas stations take roughly 30-45 minutes on-site, plus uploading time, plus the time spent writing back and forth to the editors - who are brusque, inconsistent, and difficult to deal with. And hanging around a gas station isn't a very pleasant working environment, especially with the flood of homelessness and drug addiction. Gas stations in many areas are staging points for meetups and drug buys, and attempting to work onsite is difficult at times (to put it mildly.)

OTOH, a shopper could choose to do a quick purchase and return at a big box retailer ($20), an electronics compare/contrast shop ($16), et cetera. These are all on the same board as the yellow gas stations, and can be completely done, report in, in less than 30 minutes. These assignments are competing with the gas stations for an IPSOS shopper's time and energy.

That's my point: there are a multitude of IPSOS shops that take 1/3 the time, much less writeup, fewer photos, and definitely less editorial hassle post-shop. And the gas stations' pay is not commensurate with the amount of work required... while they sit inches away on the IPSOS Job Board from shops that actually pay a decent wage.
@ColoKate63 wrote:


That's my point: there are a multitude of IPSOS shops that take 1/3 the time, much less writeup, fewer photos, and definitely less editorial hassle post-shop. And the gas stations' pay is not commensurate with the amount of work required... while they sit inches away on the IPSOS Job Board from shops that actually pay a decent wage.

I have determined that a lot of people have "Issues".
Some don't interact well with others for in-person shops.
Some can't handle phone shops.
Some can't handle technology (screenshots, apps, geo verify)
Some aren't very mobile.
Some have this really weird reply, "I don't shop for the money," but then never explain why they do shop.

You're not dealing with the best of the best here picking shops off the board. What seems like easy money for a quick cell phone interaction might be impossible for some shoppers.

I have no idea why anyone does those gas audits for under $50?
Those really complicated gas stations with 70 pages of instructions and 40-question quizzes you have to score 100% on SHOULD be $40-50. I totally agree.

The average gas station/C-store grosses $2M in my area. And they’re paying their independent evaluators $17.50 for brand compliance audits? Someone is holding a lot of the fees, and it isn’t the 1099 employees who are actually performing the work. Ahem.

I did 90% of my work in video shopping pre-pandemic. Now - simply because I want to avoid all contact with strangers that is longer than 1-2 minutes because of COVID- I’m circling back to traditional written/photo mystery shops. It’s fun for me to go into one small area and do 10-15 shops, everything from the local gas station to the post office to the preschool and hardware store. Cannot WAIT to get my second vaccine and to start routes again!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/14/2021 05:29PM by ColoKate63.
I don't think Ipsos is it's own competition anymore than Walmart's produce department competes with it's automotive department or any other. You might go there for one item or a variety of goods. It's a one-stop shopping place with cheaper rates and something for everyone. Ipsos makes the big bucks while giggers get work without having to spend time checking other job boards. No doubt in my mind that their net profits have at least doubled with this approach. Sadly, that's the way it will continue as long as the profits are there. Just my opinion.

sestrahelena
Well, here I sit in Los Angeles where only since the pandemic have I seen bonuses of gas stations and other shops that are all over the city. But these bonuses are only up to the $22.50 you say is not enough. I certainly agree with you especially in LA where housing costs are phenomenal. They say $45000 a year for a single person is low income here. Those earners can apply for all sorts of financial help from the government..
So gas stations at the old rate were always taken without a bonus pre pandemic. But gas stations seem dirty and a much greater source of covid than a clean looking bank etc. I seem to remember prior to covid gas stations were one of the favorite shops here on the forum. That and bank shops. I have never done either but in defense if I needed the money enough to earn less than $10 an hour which is below minimum wage here this shop would probably not have a waiting time while waits to be helped in most of the retail stores can be up to an hour. I have waited an hour on a plumbing shop, over an hour in a cell phone store, 45 minutes in a bank, turned away and told to come back with an appt at a high end hardware place requiring a second visit etc etc. Some shops have a max wait time but many do not. So to me among all these my time seems to be less at a gas station. And there are no parking hassles or parking meters to feed at gas shops.

@ColoKate63 wrote:

Last week, I kept seeing the yellow gas stations in my state disappear for 24-36 hours, then reappear. I have a feeling that newer shoppers were like all, "Woo-hoo! 10 gas stations at $17.50! I can make MONEY!" Then, reality hits and they turn the shops back in. Fees are now up another $5.00 as of yesterday. I'm sitting put and waiting. :-) I know my worth as a shopper, so when the number hits, I'll self-assign.

Anyway... I'm going to try One. More. Time. to make my point

The $22.50 yellow gas stations take roughly 30-45 minutes on-site, plus uploading time, plus the time spent writing back and forth to the editors - who are brusque, inconsistent, and difficult to deal with. And hanging around a gas station isn't a very pleasant working environment, especially with the flood of homelessness and drug addiction. Gas stations in many areas are staging points for meetups and drug buys, and attempting to work onsite is difficult at times (to put it mildly.)

OTOH, a shopper could choose to do a quick purchase and return at a big box retailer ($20), an electronics compare/contrast shop ($16), et cetera. These are all on the same board as the yellow gas stations, and can be completely done, report in, in less than 30 minutes. These assignments are competing with the gas stations for an IPSOS shopper's time and energy.

That's my point: there are a multitude of IPSOS shops that take 1/3 the time, much less writeup, fewer photos, and definitely less editorial hassle post-shop. And the gas stations' pay is not commensurate with the amount of work required... while they sit inches away on the IPSOS Job Board from shops that actually pay a decent wage.
It's strange how we view shops differently. I'd do gas stations over a retail shop any day, especially a mattress store, cell phone etc. I take a fresh wipe to each location and use it whenever I touch anything. I wipe my CC each time it's swiped. Of course, the stations I do tend to be well kept, so that helps too. I like the idea of being outside most of the time and some have the restrooms closed due to Covid, which is fine with me. Gas stations have been one of my go-to's during the pandemic. Also, in NJ, we don't pump our own gas, thankfully, so no touching dirty pumps. To me, malls are Covid breeding grounds, plus I detest indoor malls anyway.

*****************************************************************************
The more I learn about people...the more I like my dog..

Mark Twain
As much as I don't like many of the changes (especially those that affect my profit) I've gotta give them credit for two good things: 1. The gas report that used to require math ($gal x 2 +<$2) now calculates the reimbursements for me. 2. They managed to get one gas brand to order competitor shops which, as far as I am aware, has NEVER happened before. More jobs - yay!

sestrahelena
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