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 If the scenario for a shop makes it really hard (impossible), would MS firms respond to suggestions?
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Thomas Paul Roche

Hudson, MA
13 Posts

Posted - 07/25/2003 :  9:56:53 PM
Recently I have seen on self-scheduling MS firm websites, several shops that were offered, that seem, quite frankly, rather ludicrous to expect significant numbers of shoppers to do. One firm had several dozen bank shops available, all in one state, for several weeks-- the shopper would have to not only inquire about setting up a new account, but actually set one up. Obviously, no shopper could authentically do more than one of these. Clearly the MS firm was just following what this client wanted, but, well, it is no surprise that these were available for weeks with very little being accepted. All of a sudden, moreover, they all more or less disappeared within 2 or 3 days, which seems to suggest that either the client took them off of the board or the MS firm begged out. Similarly, another MS firm listed bank shops here in Mass. for a different bank. These shops apparently were some sort of time check shops, and the shopper had to be at the branch within ten minutes of either the branch's scheduled opening or closing times. That's it, and there still are many of these available several weeks after being first made available. Who could commit to doing such a shop, except in the rare case where the branch was located very close to one's home? My question thus is twofold: one, do any of you have similar experiences being offered shops that are really not possible to do, and, two, if so, would MS companies ever be amenable to being told this directly from their experienced, loyal shoppers, and offered suggestions for alternative approaches?

Valued Contributor

Sealy, TX
166 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  12:32:21 AM
TPR, depending on the area, those shops are not impossible. Some areas have so many shoppers, those jobs are snapped right up. Some of the 'open an account' shops are actually a series of shops where you open, use of other services for a few months, threat to close, then close the account. The time verification shops would be easy -you could fit in one on the way to work, one on the way home and vary your route to encompass a few more locations. (Not that it would be easy, you would have to allow enough time for traffic...) I would probably leave early, pick up breakfast and wait across the street - read the paper, eat breakfast and set my timer for a few minutes till opening time.

Now, you want to talk impossible? I did a shop once where I had to ask if they knew where I could buy a steeple...

Gold Certified, CCSE
Small Town TX
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Valued Contributor

Lynn, MA
168 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  12:46:00 AM
I want to hear more about the steeple!!
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Tallahassee, FL
29 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  05:31:26 AM
Hehe...I used to work in a store where we could order steeples, and all the employees just waited and waited for someone to ask about them. No one ever did, at least while I was there.
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New York City, NY
1700 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  06:29:22 AM
There are times when shops are posted, and they dont lend themselves to be accepted in a group or route basis. If that is the case, a single shopper would have difficulties in accepting several of them, and try to form a route. A shopping company will not change the specs, so a shopper can form a route. They will just post them, and let several shoppers accept the ones that can be completed. If a company changed the specs (on this shop) they would not be able to gather all of the information in which the client wants or needs. The shopping company expects shoppers to self assign only those which they are able to complete. In this particular circumstance, I dont feel like the company could or would want to change the specs, and thus change the spirit of the shop, it can cause them to lose the account.
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Star Contributor

Dallas, TX
283 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  06:31:06 AM
I believe a scheduler that posts here once said something like we think (as the mystery shopper) that we know what the client is looking for and sometimes we are so wrong. So for us to tell the scheduler or companies that hire us, "Hey this scenario is impossible - why don't we try..." is not really our call to make. I certainly agree, some scenarios SEEM impossible and there are some I don't do based on that. But the two that you listed don't seem that bad.

You said, "Clearly the MS firm was just following what this client wanted." Then why would we tamper with that? It's not our place to say, "this is a (fill in the blank) shop - suggest to your client that..." We're contracted to do a job, shop/audit/merchandise, we're not hired to be the researcher and develop the program. Trust me, after 10 years of being on the other side of the fence - you don't want to be the researcher....I like this side way better - give me my assignment, here's your report, thankyouverymuch, on to the next! No weeks (or months) sitting there analyzing and interpreting all the data and puttting that in a big, fat report for the client.

I also think the MS company has many of our same concerns about certain scenarios, but again, it what the client wants - so they have to do it like that - at least initially.

Just adding my little ol' 2 cents

MSPA Gold Certified
Shopping the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex
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Star Contributor

744 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  07:50:56 AM
Questioning the shop guidelines is likely questioning the client's requests. A service will obviously make suggestions to a client by presenting an "example" of what types of shops/service they can offer. However, the client usually arrives with preconceived notions about what type of information they want/need to gather. As a service, you get a small window of opportunity to tactfully explain the constraints of the reps in the field.

Clients incorrectly assume there are reps standing on every corner willing to immediately accept shops without question. On the other hand, no matter the date, time, contractor pay, guidelines, etc, someone somewhere will accept a shop even though the requirements appear unreasonable. That goes against the theory that experienced shoppers know best. As Independent Contractors, you have the option to decline a shop if it does not meet your needs or fit your schedule. As a service, you do NOT always have the option to turn down a client. This industry cannot be that selective.
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Dee in AZ
Star Contributor

Tucson, AZ
663 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2003 :  6:19:31 PM  Send Dee in AZ an AOL message
I have found that the majority of companies do not make changes to their scenarios based on shopper complaints. However this isn't always true. There are companies out there who value the input of their shoppers. I think Pacific Research Group and Service Intelligence are both outstanding in this respect. They both have forums for their shoppers and monitor the posts. I have seen both companies make changes based on shoppers questioning the scenario of a particular shop. I think that it is often necessary to do things we feel aren't "normal" in order to give the client the information they need but sometimes complaining or questioning brings about a positive change.

Deanna Kessler
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Ray Sola
Volition.com Staff

Prescott, AZ
3100 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2003 :  09:40:22 AM
There have been times that the shop specs have been changed just based on what was posted here. The schedulers read peoples complaints in this forum and printed them out for the client.

The companies do want feedback. They may have no control over it as the client is the one requesting the scenario, but they still want to hear if you are having trouble or are likely to be spotted as the shopper as a result of the scenario being just too unrealistic.

I've also know cases when the MS company told the client that the shop did not make sense, but the client insisted it was ok. Then all the shoppers complained and the MS firm went back to the client and insisted that the shop did not make sense. The specs for the shop were then changed.
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