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Shopper Pay – Do You Get What You Pay For? June 21, 2012

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.

I may be opening a can of worms with this post, but I wanted to cover a topic that I recently discovered during a shopper conversation. Essentially, the topic was paying more for shops to get a better quality of shoppers. The discussion revolved around MSP’s rejecting shops at what seems to be an increasing rate, leading shoppers, schedulers, and editors alike to wonder what might be the cause of this – do people just not care anymore, do clients reject shops where they don’t like the score, or is it something else?

I, like many other MSP’s, want to assure shoppers that we do not enjoy rejecting shops; it is difficult to have to tell someone they cannot be paid, or worse, reimbursed for required purchases. It also makes more work for schedulers and editors, as they have to reschedule the shop. It was suggested that if the pay rate was higher for shops, there would be less rate of shops done incorrectly and/or rejected shops. While the “you get what you pay for” mentality may seem to make sense, it does not seem to be the case with mystery shopping.

This is an industry where you will not get rich, no matter what your role is, that’s for sure.  MSP’s certainly don’t try to keep shoppers from making money either  – no one is trying to pay as little as possible to get the most profit. It’s just not how the industry works. The fees are what they are, and each shopper can decide for themselves what they’re willing to do. Some prefer to take several lower paying shops that require less reporting while others prefer taking less shops that are higher paying but require more work in the observations and reporting.

A far as a correlation between shopper pay and rejected shops, there doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation. The most common reasons for rejecting a shop include:

1. Not making a required observation, using the correct scenario, or making the required purchase: this is the #1 reason shops are rejected. Even if you do shops for a particular client month after month, things may change. You need to be sure you are reviewing the guidelines, comments, and shop report prior to your shop so you are fully prepared. It may seem harsh to reject a shop if one or two required observations aren’t met, or if the correct scenario isn’t played out, but it is vital to the client’s program, and they will not pay for work that isn’t done correctly. Sometimes we will hear from shoppers whose reports are rejected saying that they weren’t aware of a particular requirement, only to find that it was in fact in three different places within the training guides and/or report.

2. Not submitting the report in a timely manner: this is another hot topic that we won’t dig into today, but making sure reports are submitted within the 12 to 24 hour time frame is vital. Why? This industry works quickly – clients need to see the reports within 2-3 business days for many reasons, most importantly if there is an issue that they need to address. Typically, if you need a bit more time, a quick email to the MSP will work well. While we have a little extra time to work with, it won’t help if we contact you asking about the status of the report and don’t hear back; in our mind, you haven’t done the shop and may not plan to, so we need to get it rescheduled as quickly as possible. Not submitting the shop for three days and expecting it to be used after no communication isn’t going to work.

3. New shoppers who aren’t serious about the business: new shoppers sometimes come from the reports they’ve heard of making $40,000 a year shopping, and are surprised to see the work involved for a shop. Rather than follow through with what they agreed to or cancel, they rush through the shop and turn in a report that makes it clear it cannot be used. While disappointing, it weeds out the shoppers who aren’t in it for the right reasons pretty quickly, even though it makes more work for the MSP.

4. Refusing to complete the assignment: there are times, most often when it comes to narrative based reports, where the shopper does the shop, submits the receipts, and submits a few lines where the detailed narrative should be. Or, as I’ve seen once or twice, writes a few sentences and, realizing that the word count hasn’t been met, writes “This was a great experience. I will return” over and over until the count is met. When the shopper is contacted for additional information, they will inform the editor that they have done $10.00 worth of work and will not be doing any more. When this happens, we have no choice but to reject it. This is sad because it is clear that the shopper went through the trouble of doing everything else, but cannot get paid for their efforts. It is clear in the guidelines that a narrative is required, and many times a sample narrative is included to give a sense of what is required, so there should be no surprises. This is the saddest of all of the situations where shops are rejected.

5. Shopper burnout: I take back what I said in the last point…THIS is the saddest scenario. I’ve seen this very few times in the last ten years (thank goodness), and when it happens it is a sad day. Sometimes shoppers experience burnout, or they try to do as little as possible to get paid. Unfortunately this can turn to faking shops, where they’ve potentially shopped for a certain client long enough that they don’t actually do the shop, but write up a report as though they did it. Doctoring past receipts to make them look current and reusing old business cards can come into play. One bad decision can lead to the end of your work, but if this is happening, maybe it’s time for you to step away from the industry. This scenario makes me feel the worst, because when it happened, it was with shoppers who have had a long history in the industry.

As I said earlier, I don’t think it’s a matter of pay – we’ve seen it with high and low paying shops, from both new and seasoned shoppers. Work is work, and we should all take pride in what we do. The beauty of being an independent contractor is that you can accept shops you’re interested in and ignore the ones you’re not.

We ARE all in this together, and we realize that we cannot do it without you as shoppers. We try to make things as simple as possible so you can be successful in your work. Our (collective) ultimate goal is to help clients measure the customer experience, one shop at  time, so providing the best, most accurate work possible makes everyone a success!

You’ve Got Questions…. June 19, 2012

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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And we’re here to help! Do you have a question about mystery shopping, whether you’re a mystery shopper or thinking about becoming one? We’re opening up the blog to answer your questions!

To get you started, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we get – hopefully this will inspire you to ask your own! Don’t be shy….we want to help!

1. How do I get started as a shopper? If you’re new to the industry, you’ll want to make sure you’re finding legitimate companies. I highly recommend visiting the MSPA and Jobslinger – both provide shopper resources to point you to legitimate companies. If you come across a site that is asking for payment, stop right there and close out the window!

2. Help! I did my first shop, and when I got home I realized I went to the wrong location? Now what? This can happen to an experienced shopper as well as a new shopper. Don’t sweat it, but make it right. Contact your scheduler immediately to let them know what happened, and offer to shop the correct location ASAP. Failing to communicate will drop your rating and you won’t have as much chance for shops in the future. We’re all  human – try to make it right as quickly as possible and it should be okay.

3. I’m a new shopper – what’s the best type of shop to start with? It’s nerve wracking in the beginning, so make sure you start out small. Apply for only one or two shops at first so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with the easier (often lower paying) shops that don’t require heavy observations or narrative. Prior to your shop, read all of the documentation to prepare. Start with shops that don’t require a purchase so there is little cash outlay. If you have questions prior to a shop, ask your scheduler – we are here to help.

4. I want to be a scheduler or editor – how do they get hired? If you think mystery shopping is tough, try being a scheduler or editor! These types of positions are usually filled by seasoned shoppers with a strong history with a company. If this is something you’d like to consider in the future, be sure your work is top notch, you help out with last minute shops when you can, and build good relationships with those in the company already. When it comes time to increase their team, you’ll have better chances at getting the job.

Time for you to ask your questions! Let us know what’s on your mind…

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