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 How to find Mystery Shops in MY AREA?
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KimG
Star Contributor

Orlando, FL
USA
628 Posts

Posted - 02/17/2009 :  2:32:44 PM  Send KimG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I'm wondering, am I the only one having problems getting shops lately? Either there aren't as many being done, or they are being snapped up so quickly I'm missing them. I'm finding that my favorite grocery store shops are taken almost as soon as they are posted here in Orlando. For example, I checked SI today about 2, no new shops. Around 4, shops had been released, and only 3 in Orlando were left. There must be well over 20 of these stores in the area. I can't always be sitting on my computer waiting for shops to release, I do work besides this. I think it's a sign of the economic times-either companies have gone out of business (Circuit City and Expo being 2 that I had shopped in the past), they have greatly reduced or eliminated their shopping programs, or other people are faster than me at getting the jobs.

Kim
silver certified njtwnf
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ValricoConnie
Star Contributor

FL
USA
1083 Posts

Posted - 02/17/2009 :  5:35:03 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Hi KimG, Today was the first time I was on SI's site when the shops were newly released. I believe there are more shoppers in FL now than a year ago and competition is FIERCE. BTW, *I* did not take any of your Orlando shops!

>^..^< ::¤Connie¤::¤Gold Certified¤:: >^..^<
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Val AC
Valued Contributor

USA
173 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2009 :  06:45:07 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I live in South Florida and I always find that shops are hard to come by. I've always been jealous of you guys that live in Orlando and on west coast of FL b/c it seemed that their was less competition. I'm convinced that we have more competition here b/c there are so many people who live here who don't work regular jobs. I think a lot of shoppers tag team between the husband & wife or say between sisters and they select shops for each (I also think they complete each others shops too, but that's just my opinion). If you're a lone shopper like myself, you're at a disadvantage.

After shopping for several years, I find that I am spending more time now than ever just looking for work. If I'm not logged on and lurking for self-assign shops I don't get any. If I don't grab a shop within seconds, it's usually gone. I'm really getting tired of spending so much uncompensated time just looking for work. When I started shopping I used to book shops with schedulers and I had lots of work scheduled a month or so ahead of time. Those days are gone. Now I'm scramblin for $10 shops and the $4 shops in my area get taken. This is getting really old.
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Terrie314
Member

Orlando, FL
USA
45 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2009 :  08:49:57 AM  Send Terrie314 an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Wow! I thought it was me! I usually have so many shops the first week of the month I have trouble trying to fit them all in. This week, I only have 5 shops scheduled so Farand its not looking good. I have been in this business for 15 years and this is the first time it is really getting to me. I've been banished from those grocery shops, supposedly my identity was compromised. I did three shops in the same District and all three got not-so-good reports. Makes me wonder since I was doing them for so long. Anyway, needless to say, I'm not competing with you for those shops anymore.


Terrie in Orlando
MSPA Gold Certified
Shopping Central Florida
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ValricoConnie
Star Contributor

FL
USA
1083 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2009 :  6:02:01 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
ValAC, I used to see a lot of unfilled jobs in the Fort L'dale/Miami area and told my husband (BTW, he is not a shopper) if I ever want work, we should move to Miami. Right now, the unfilled jobs I see are in the WPB area.

>^..^< ::¤Connie¤::¤Gold Certified¤:: >^..^<
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MichaelinNH
Star Contributor

New Hampshire
USA
488 Posts

Posted - 05/14/2009 :  11:41:47 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am finding it takes more companies to get the same number of shops, but so far I have been able to adjust my mix of companies I am working for to get shops.

But I was doing an open audit at a gas station the other day, at first a customer thought it was a mystery shop and he mentioned his wife mystery shops. Then they two cashiers indicate they also mystery shop; one even admitted they shopped their own location(serious ethics issue here) recently. So four of us in the store and all four with mystery shopper connections. That did not thrill me.

MSPA Gold 8/9/2006 MSPA Silver 6/23/2007
Video Shopper Certified 6/9/2011 NV Workcard R-061144. Shopping 50 States, Puerto Rico & Canada.
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AlisonMC
Apprentice

MI
USA
3 Posts

Posted - 05/14/2009 :  1:35:11 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Same story in MI. Now (thanks to a local news broadcast on a mystery shopping company job fair [that I had no idea about]) there seems to be more and more shopper's in my area. But that's not all. Some of the companies who have been well known for extreamly low pay are getting $4 shops snatched up as soon as they're posted, and other companies are LOWERING their commissions as well. I'm lucky if I get one shop a week.

Alison
Lovin' Mystery Shoppin!
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Di S.
Valued Contributor

MI
USA
118 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2009 :  07:15:44 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Alison, when and what station mentioned the job fair? Your post is the first I have heard about anything like it, anywhere. It is hard to find MS assignments in my area because several area school districts have had someone teaching MSing classes for at least seven years, long before I started shopping, AND there are more of them now.

The required textbook is Cathy Strucker's book.

p.s. I did not take any of these classes.

Di
MSPA Gold Certifed
Undercover Video Specialist (TM)
=^.^=
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JillinMichigan
Contributor

Washington Township, MI
USA
61 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2009 :  8:40:20 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Reply to Alison & Di: And you have to contend with those of us that have been doing this for over 10 years and have had an "in" with certain companies for a very long time...sorry but it's how it goes with this business. I have taken off for a few years but have been able to pick up good assignments because of the Gold certification and how long I have been with certain companies. Lots of shops are not even posted as PaminCA would attest to and others out there would also. In addition, I am willing to shop a 35+ mile radius around my home when I can make a route. I have always found that is the best way to make more money in this business.

MSPA Gold Certified shopper - shop and merchandise in Metro Detroit and Port Huron areas
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2009 :  07:19:59 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Although I agree that I am offered jobs that are never posted anywhere else, I don't agree with having to contend with anyone else.

I have excellent competition in my area. Gold certified shoppers with more years in this business than me and a college less than one mile from me, Saddleback College, which has been offering a mystery shopping class for many years as well. But I have never let that hold me back.

I worked harder, developed my own relationships with companies that were outside of the "perceived" great companies list and I have never stopped applying to more companies. Most every company out there has jobs that are never posted to the general public.

When I was writing the book and adding the list of companies in the back, I had to check all of their websites and it took everything I had to stay focused on my project at hand and not apply right then and there.

You see, many of my friends here compared their lists to mine and although I had found a lot of companies while doing research, they had found others and had been working for them for quite sometime. They were generous and shared with me as I shared with them. This made for an awesome list of companies to apply to and I wanted to apply right now.

Do not limit yourself! You are the only one who can hold you back in this business. No matter how new you are, never think you cannot get the plum jobs.

If anything, I know for a fact, many times companies are looking for those fresh eyes and they want shoppers just like you. Shoppers who they can train to do it their way, not shoppers who are stuck in one way of doing the job because they have been doing it for so long.

If you accept a $4.00 job, give it your best. If you accept an electronic store with a lot of work for little pay, give it your best. You never know which company has that great "non public" job and afterall, you accepted the job, they did not force you to take it.

Two last things, my competition is anyone living within a fifty mile radius from my home. In California, it is an everyday occurrence for people to travel this far to work each day one way and back home. Be friends with your competition, get to know them, it is much easier than being at odds with them. Not everyone likes to do the same jobs. Being willing to share those jobs you do not like with your competition will most likely open doors for you and get you jobs you never knew were out there.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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Servanne
Star Contributor

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2009 :  12:13:39 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I would say that the competition in your area only matters a little. As long as the companies you work with know where to find you (granted you do a good job!), they'll contact you. I agree with Pam that no matter what job you've accepted, give it your best. It could pay off tenfold in the future.

Also, personally "my area" means anything within a 250 miles radius. I travel quite a bit for the sole purpose of MSing. To find jobs around my home town can be quite difficult given the low population density. Traveling has been the way to go. My direct competition lives 100 miles away as she approaches the job the same way I do and travels extensively as well. In order to make it worthwhile, I have to route jobs and/or group them. This can be easily achieved with most MSCs, as there are always odd jobs that need to be picked up.

Just remember, to each his own and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. In the end, you'll have to develop your own system to find jobs in your area, whether be it checking the boards every morning, responding to e-mails as they come in, accepting large routes or even going out of your "comfort zone" and trying out shops a bit further away.

Happy shopping!

Servanne
Merrily shopping my way through the Twin Cities, Western Minnesota and beyond...
MSPA Gold Certified since April 2007!
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LisaOV
Star Contributor

MN
USA
2659 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2011 :  12:08:32 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Also, let's not forgot that if you KNOW the other shoppers in your area they will pass along info to you if they aren't able to do the work themselves.

Right now, due to my eye surgery, I can't work. I'm more then happy to pass along work info and job leads to others. Why wouldn't I?
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Sue Br.
Star Contributor

Oklahoma
USA
661 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2011 :  06:43:01 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
My biggest problem in finding jobs is when the company decides to move their shopping contract to another MSC and I have to dig to find the jobs or hope they show up on volition. I realize they move around but I wish they could just send us all a mass email, I know that's not going to happen. I also find it interesting that some companies pay a certain fee for a shop and others lower the fee considerably. If the second company is getting paid the same but we're not then someone is making a lot of money. Makes my blood boil because it's nothing but corporate greed.

Sue
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SandiA
Star Contributor

USA
495 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2011 :  2:30:43 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LisaOV

Also, let's not forgot that if you KNOW the other shoppers in your area they will pass along info to you if they aren't able to do the work themselves.



Lisa, I think we recently covered this in another thread: Not in my area! There was an MSPA conference in my area a while back where I met several people in my neighborhood (within 10 miles from me). Everyone was nice and we had a good time together. I tried several times to get people together, but no takers.
Sometimes, I'm asked by one company to take a job(auditing/inventory--not MS) in my "competition's" area and I can't or don't want to do it. I'll say, "Did you ask XXX? She lives right there!", which is my passive-aggressive way of complaining about her (they don't really care). Anyway, you sound nice and cooperative and I wish we were in the same area to work together!

SandiA
Celebrating 14 Years in the Biz!
MSPA Gold Certified since 2003
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Servanne
Star Contributor

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2011 :  5:16:57 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sue Br.
I also find it interesting that some companies pay a certain fee for a shop and others lower the fee considerably. If the second company is getting paid the same but we're not then someone is making a lot of money. Makes my blood boil because it's nothing but corporate greed.


It's not necessarily corporate greed. It could be that the new MSC underbid the old MSC by that much. I agree that it is frustrating, but unfortunately, the greed may be more on the part of the client than the MSC.

Servanne
Merrily shopping my way through the Twin Cities, Western Minnesota and beyond...
MSPA Gold Certified since April 2007!
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LisaSTL
Star Contributor

St. Louis, MO
USA
733 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2011 :  6:24:23 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
While you may be right about an MSC underbidding, the result is the same. To deny that one of the big problems in this country is corporate greed is short-sighted at best. There are examples of it everyday if you just look. Market Force reduced the fees on their gas station audits and I had just found out that the oil company charged the franchisee for those audits. Someone, obviously not the IC auditor and probably not the franchisee, was reaping the benefit. It is the large MSC's who are lowering fees at an alarming rate. I think most of us know smaller companies who continue to find a way to pay a fair price. The most likely reason, they too are small business owners and can appreciate us and our situation. The large companies chew up mystery shoppers and spit them out on a regular basis, knowing that in this economy there are plenty to take our places. I am a firm believer in free enterprise and a business owner who has put up the money and taken the risk deserves rewards. But, that does not excuse a total lack of corporate responsibility and ethics.

Lisa
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2011 :  6:37:03 PM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am not denying that from outside appearances it may well look like the mystery shopping companies are making a fortune. But let's look at the whole picture for the majority of companies. Unless they are working from their homes, do all of their own scheduling, editing, sales, pampering of the clients and submit the reports, they have expenses.

I know most of the company owners work well into the night and start very early in the day. Everyone's job always look easier from the outside.

Not that I am saying we should not be paid a fair wage, but I am not so sure that it is just all about corporate greed, there is some shopper greed that plays into this as well.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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LisaSTL
Star Contributor

St. Louis, MO
USA
733 Posts

Posted - 01/19/2011 :  6:53:32 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Pam, I'm talking about the biggies here and I didn't claim even they were making a fortune. If they weren't doing well they wouldn't have bought other companies over the last few years. Besides lowered shop fees most of us have also seen a reduction in their staff, so again, someone is making money somewhere.

In all honesty, it's pervasive and goes way beyond our industry. In my lifetime I have never seen such a huge gap between the working and upper classes and it does not bode well. There are some companies whose corporate climate totally flies in the face of this and continually prove that they can compete and treat employees fairly. Before a hostile takeover, supported by some of the wealthiest people in this country, St. Louis was home to just such a corporation. Workers fought to just get a foot in the door and once there didn't leave. The owners were some of the most wealthy and were raised to believe in noblesse oblige, something that is actually quite common around here. We have some of the best public institutions in the country, most of which are still free or reasonably priced because of those people and corporations. Despite what Gordon Gekko said, greed is not good.

Lisa
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Servanne
Star Contributor

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 01/20/2011 :  07:12:25 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Survival of the fittest.
The buy-outs usually happens as a (financial) security measure. Same thing for the underbiding. The MSCs are at a point where, with the economy being the way it is, they have no choice but to get the contracts wherever and however they can: buying out other MSCs that are still under client contracts and taking those over, underbiding to make sure that they get a client, even if for half the price, etc.
Supply and demand at its finest: the clients are delighted to pay less for roughly the same service. As a result, the ICs get a lowered fee and the MSCs have massive lay-offs in their offices.
It's not pleasant, but at least some people still have a job and contract opportunities, as opposed to no job and no contract if the MSCs did not adapt to the market.
So while you think it is corporate greed, I think it is just a result of a free-market economy.
The alternative is even gloomier: should the larger MSCs choose to have higher fees for ICs, the overall contract price would be higher. In this case, two scenarios are possible: 1) Another MSC does not adhere to this way of thinking and they take over all the contracts at lower fees - 2) All of the MSCs are in agreement and keep with the higher fees, and the clients cannot afford the MS programs anymore, hence no fee at all for ICs (due to no contracts).




It's a tough world out there, but we have to make it work, for our own sake. Even if that means that we now need to redefine "our areas" as being where we are willing to travel rather than when we live. (annnnd....back on topic! Oh yeah!)

Servanne
Merrily shopping my way through the Twin Cities, Western Minnesota and beyond...
MSPA Gold Certified since April 2007!
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BridgetCRC
Member

Annapolis, MD
USA
11 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2011 :  6:56:22 PM  Visit BridgetCRC's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am having trouble finding jobs in my area also (Annapolis, MD). I check MSPA and the emails constantly but not very much comes through. After a certain point, are you removed from email lists sometimes? I feel like I may have been but not really sure why, or maybe they're just in a lull right now. I'm not sure. Any advice would help :).

Bridget
Central MD region for mystery shopping!
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