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CraigK
Member

USA
34 Posts

Posted - 04/01/2008 :  12:52:16 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have done that shop and IMO the fee does not equal the effort for the shop. I don't know if the scenario is the same, but I needed to shop multiple depts, get multiple employee names, purchase a large item and return it right away. It took a long time to complete the shop and the form was very detail oriented with narratives throughout.

Craig
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Susan L
Star Contributor

Westchester County, New York
USA
267 Posts

Posted - 04/01/2008 :  6:18:19 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Yes, it is very, very, very labor intensive. It can take five or more hours to do the shop, and several hours to write the report. The store will be crowded. You will be required to look up several specific items of merchandise that may or may not be available in the departments they are supposed to be in--or they may be stacked in such a way that it is impossible to read the ticket to write down the information on it. And unless it has changed substantially since last year, you will be required to evaluate staff in every department, get names, times, etc., and ask one question over and over that inadvertently will alert everyone that you are the shopper. You have to buy something fairly large, then immediately go to the return department to take it back. You have to check bathrooms, wait in line at the store's restaurant to buy food (if your shop is on a weekend, the wait itself may be an hour or more long).

The staff will know they're being shopped, since this happens every year, on schedule. Depending on the store you are assigned, some of them may do things to get you to expose yourself as a shopper--like wearing their name badges low on their clothing, forcing you to stare--or wearing it upside down or backwards. This is not the kind of upscale department store where customers tend to ask for names, so asking for a name after a minor interaction with an associate will be a tip-off.

Some of the rooms or departments you have to get information on look like other rooms or departments in the store, making the instructions ambiguous and finding the right room/department confusing. If you make the wrong judgment call due to the ambiguity, you will not be paid. Any errors in any portion of the shop (didn't get a name for one of the associates, for example), you will not be paid for the entire shop. If you can't read the ticket because of the way the item is stacked, and it can't be moved, you won't get paid (even if you explain that thoroughly). And even if you get kudos and a high score on the shop, the company might decide later to not pay you because they determine that something is "wrong" with the shop.

Hope this information helps you.

Susan L.

Susan L.
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MicheleinFLA
Star Contributor

FL
USA
334 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2008 :  11:48:32 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I completed this shop but it didn't take me five hours as someone mentioned. I was in the store for less than three hours and it took an hour to complete the report. (score of 10) I thought it was fun! Next time, I'll be more prepared and should be able finish in-store within 2 hours.

quote:
Originally posted by Cortney

I got an offer to shop an international build it yourself furniture store. Has anyone done this shop? The fee is high and I am afraid it will be VERY labor intensive.


Michele
MSPA Gold Certified
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Sheralee
Valued Contributor

Newport, WA
USA
100 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2008 :  7:02:57 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Susan L

Yes, it is very, very, very labor intensive. It can take five or more hours to do the shop, and several hours to write the report.



I have never taken that long to do this account. Was it your first time ? As with anything, the first time is always much slower. Once you get the hang of it - its a breeze and quite fun. The report will come to you easier once you know what to look for.

2hrs at the store is about standard. the report should not take you any more than 30 minute at the most.

Break that down to hourly, its pretty good.

It all comes down to your experience as a shopper. Sometimes on occasion you do have to wait for service. But you are given a time limit that you need to wait, before you move on.

It does get easier and its a fun shop if you like this particular store in the first place.
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Susan L
Star Contributor

Westchester County, New York
USA
267 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2008 :  02:39:22 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Actually it took me 4.5 hours to do the on-site portion of the shop. (I went back and looked at my records.) That's not counting the time it took to get there and return home. Adding that time, 45 minutes each way, it took 6.0 hours. So it took a bit longer than I initially thought when I first wrote about it.

BTW, I always include the time it takes to get to and from the location in my estimation of how much time a shop requires.

A lot of my time was spent waiting in queues--just over half an hour in the restaurant queue (buying a meal in the cafeteria was required), and all the waiting time totaled 1 hour and 44 minutes. That'sstanding on concrete floors, which are real foot and leg killers.

So if it had been less crowded, with no long lines for waiting, it would have taken me 2 hours and 46 minutes to do the on-site portion of the shop--just a bit longer than some of you.

This was a store I was very familiar with, even to the point where I memorized the floor plan because I had been a "real" customer so often. I even knew how to evade the system the store uses to "herd" customers like cattle so that they go through every department. So I knew how to make shortcuts through the maze of departments and reach only the department I wanted. So I was not lost in the store; it was just very busy, and some entire departments had only TWO employees working (out of perhaps seven or eight they really needed) when I visited. Customers would cuss and walk away in frustration at how long it took to actually try to buy something.

There were 14 departments and two "stealth" departments (areas listed within a department section that required their own extensive evaluation) for a total of 16 different areas that required extensive evaluation. This is a warehouse store, and a couple of the departments are so huge that they are practically warehouses within the warehouse.

Because there were specific items in certain departments we had to find, and write down the info from their tags, it became a real drag when one of the items was in a completely different department from the one listed. That meant I had to search for it, and/or find a staffer to help me find it. The guidelines required that I checked that the info on the wall or bin tags matched the info on the tags on the merchandise itself. I had to find several things that were out of stock and then ask the staffer when it would be back in stock. I had to write down names and descriptions. I had to check the bathrooms and baby changing room. I had to pick a number and wait a half hour to return an item while surrounded by fighting kids, screaming babies, and angry parents.

In addition to a list of questions for each of the sixteen departments, each also required a "play by play" narrative with "supporting information for EVERY answer." So filling out the report for 16 departments took more than a couple of hours.

The whole thing was an ordeal. A 10-foot pole ordeal.

BTW, I shop in the NYC metro area. We were assigned a specific day and hour over the weekend to enter the store. This was done to prevent all the shoppers showing up all at once.

The shop guidelines or requirements may have been reduced or otherwise changed since I did this more than a year ago. If so, that's great. If they cut the number of departments from 16 to 6, or 7 or 8, that would be great, too.

From time to time I see the announcement for this client on job boards and at first glance it looks like a well-paid, juicy assignment. I'm ready to bite. But as I read deeper in the announcement, it becomes clear who the client is, and what the shop might entail, and I find myself saying, "Oh no, no, no!"

It's still a 10-foot pole shop for me. My .



Susan L.

Susan L.
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Francine Bryan
Valued Contributor

Marlboro, NJ
USA
101 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2008 :  08:37:25 AM  Visit Francine Bryan's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am the scheduler of the furniture shops in discussion for Cirrus Marketing Consultants. I can assure all shoppers that the average time shoppers spend in the store for this shop is 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The amount of time you spend in the store will greatly depend on your familiarity with the layout of the store and your shopping experience.

The previous poster completed this shop in February 2007 (more than a year ago) and her shop was excluded because she did not follow the guidelines and did not complete the shop correctly. It is unfortunate she felt the need to post here making it sound as though the shop was undesirable. We schedule hundreds of these types of shops monthly and I have shoppers who love to do these shops over and over again. In addition, the shop and guidelines have changed dramatically from last year. I use many new shoppers as well, due to rotation requirements, and most shoppers find this assignment very enjoyable.

Yes, it is a detailed assignment and requires an experienced shopper. We stress that information in our posting for this type of assignment. We encourage experienced shoppers to apply.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with all of you!

Francine Bryan
scheduler@qualityscheduling.com
Quality Scheduling Group LLC
http://www.qualityscheduling.com/

Be sure to check out the new job board on the Cirrus Marketing Consultants' website:
http://www.sassieshop.com/2cirrus/index.norm.php

If you have not already done so, please register on our website to be added to our database and be notified of future shops in your area:
http://www.qualityscheduling.com/
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Susan L
Star Contributor

Westchester County, New York
USA
267 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2008 :  11:01:13 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
After I posted my last communication I read subsequent posts that made it clear to me that the shop had changed somewhat since I did it last year. The shopper who reported that it took her 30 minutes to report the results was the clue. There was no way that one could report answers to so many questions and write detailed narratives on 16 departments in 30 minutes.

For the record: After I turned in my report, I got a glowing assessment from this MS company. About a week or so later, I got a notice saying I would not be paid because I missed evaluating one of the 16 departments. The reason they gave was an example of what I meant when I wrote about ambiguities in the guidelines; this store has several areas scattered through through the various floors that would qualify as the department of interest. When presented with this during the shop, I picked one of them and apparently it was the wrong one. It was ambiguous in the guidelines, and when I later went back to the store some time after receiving the non-pay notice (yes, I did), I was truly surprised that this area was used for this purpose. The entry had the design and enough dirt to look like the loading dock of a warehouse--which is definitely NOT what this room was used for. (Just the entry, not the entire room.) I was surprised that customers would trust it for its intended use.

There were other ambiguities in the guidelines, but I was not cited for any of those. It was a badly designed MS evaluation.

Right after I was denied pay, I warned this MS company against leaving this shop totally unpaid. I contacted someone at the MSPA, who put me in touch with the head of the organization. After I described what happened, the head encouraged me to file a formal complaint against this MS company, and said she would look into it. Back then (March 2007), I decided not to file a complaint for the usual reasons--busy with other shops, fear of retaliation and black-listing, the automatic "one mistake rule" I tend to apply to encounters with individuals and organizations, the desire to not take time from family, etc.

BTW, I still have the notes, e-mails, and other records of correspondence related to this shop. I also have the notes, e-mails, and records from every shop I have done since I began mystery shopping. (I admit to being behind in my records retention system.) One will see from inspecting them that my rating with MS companies averages 9 or 10, and there are lots of kudoes and thank you's as well--including, I might add, a big one from this MS company for this very shop!

Francine, if you look over this discussion just since January 2008 you will see that I am not the only one who answered the question from the shopper with a negative report of my experience. If you had simply emphasized earlier than you did that the shop's guidelines have changed dramatically (your terminology) since last year, that would have gone a long way to convincing new shoppers that they may wish to try them.

Your last post does, however, give prospective shoppers a clue about how they might be treated by your company in the event of a dispute. Not only does a shopper have to beware of ten-foot pole shops, we now have to beware of ten-foot pole companies, too.

Susan L.

(now a fearless shopper when it comes to black-listing and retaliation)

Susan L.
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Francine Bryan
Valued Contributor

Marlboro, NJ
USA
101 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2008 :  11:20:40 AM  Visit Francine Bryan's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Susan, if you wish to contact me personally, I have already posted my contact information. I will not bother responding further in this forum, since you have decided to take a personal offense towards a company that denied you pay for not completing a shop according to the instructions. I simply posted to make other shoppers aware that this shop is nothing like you described.

In fact, I do not see any truth in your response either. Shoppers I have dealt with personally know that our company treats shoppers well because we could not do our job without them. However, your posts were full of things that were simply not true. We stand behind our shoppers and when they do a good job for us, we ensure they are paid in a timely manner and that they are given preference for future shops for our company, as well as our clients.


Francine Bryan
scheduler@qualityscheduling.com
Quality Scheduling Group LLC
http://www.qualityscheduling.com/
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Presley
Valued Contributor

Dallas, Texas
USA
121 Posts

Posted - 04/13/2008 :  08:14:41 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Although it has been a long time since I have done one of these particular shops, I remember that it took me almost two hours. I actually enjoyed going to the different departments. I think just by reading the instructions and survey ahead of time, it is obvious that this shop requires time, reading long instructions and detailed input. I knew this up front, before I did the shop and still enjoyed doing the shop.

I have found the schedulers that I have worked with in this company to be nice and respond to questions and assist when assistance is needed.

Presley, KH
Gold Certified
Shopping Dallas/Ft. Worth & Surrounding Areas
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MsJudi
Star Contributor

New Jersey
USA
582 Posts

Posted - 04/13/2008 :  10:48:05 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I used to do this shop regularly for another company so I am very familiar with the store layout and past requirements. When it went to Cirrus I tried it a few times and found the time and detail required to be so not worth the effort for the pay. Departments and additional requirements and interactions were added. The in-store part wasn't bad if you enjoy that store, but the reporting was horrible. Yes, it took me hours to complete the report properly. Now, the application states that requirements have changed and the fee reflects these changes...so I'm assuming that the report is even MORE detailed since it is paying a whooping $10 more. If this is not the case, and the report has indeed been streamlined, I would attempt it again. But I vowed never to do this one again for the amount they were paying. Personally, I don't see how anything additional could possibly be added. They've pretty much covered every aspect possible in shopping that store.

If the report can be completed well in 30 minutes, I suppose it would be worth it. If anyone is still saying it's a bear, I wouldn't touch it. Can anyone who has completed the shop in the past (like 1-2 years ago) and more recently with the new requirements, report here to verify that the form has indeed been steamlined?

P.S. One could also do the very brief, 20 minute observational shop at the same store with a 2 minute report for 1/3 of the fee. (Different company) No store shopping required!! Of course, I don't think that was a recurring shop. It was a one shot deal type of thing that I did three times in one week. Now THAT was very worth it.

Judi
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Tonya7609
Contributor

San Francisco, California
USA
84 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2008 :  10:23:42 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote

I just did one of these and here's my take. By the way, I've been mystery shopping for 14 years now.

1 hour - Shop preparation. This included reading the material and making myself a very necessary and valuable cheat sheet in Excel.

2 hours - In store. It might have been a little less, but I spent 15 minutes in the cafeteria (I needed the break) and it took close to 20 minutes to get my full service item due to a snafu that wasn't of my own doing.

2 hours - Shop report. And I'm fast. No, really, really fast. I typed 140 wpm the last time I tested and I know the sassie forms inside and out. Granted, I did save the form after every section, but still. Given that there are 300+ things to input or yes/no, plus the narratives, I don't see myself being able to do it any faster in the future.

So my pay averaged out to 11/hour. That might get better with time, considering I wouldn't have to spend an hour in preparation. That said, I'd think long and hard about doing this shop again. It's not exactly 10-foot pole for me but almost. Given that this shop is incredibly time consuming and that there are SO many requirements, details, questions, timings, item descriptions, departments, names, narratives, etc, the risk of not being paid for one small mistake is high. (Sorry Cirrus, I'm not being disparaging of you, but that's my opinion.)

Some hints and general comments for those who are going to do the shop in the future:

1. Make yourself a cheat sheet that covers each department and what you are supposed to ask/do in that department. That way you won't forget anything. There are many, many details and timings that can be easily overlooked if you aren't careful. I printed it out and put it on a clipboard. I printed out three furniture items from the web page to cover it up. Worked perfectly. A clipboard is almost necessary for this one and it doesn't look out of place at this location.

2. Carefully, very carefully go over all your answers BEFORE you leave the location. Did you visit all the departments and ask all the right questions? If you miss a name, you won't be paid. As I got to the end of my my shop report, I almost had a heart attack when I realized I hadn't written down the name of the person who processed my return. I was imagining ALL that work down the drain and almost cried. Luckily, I was able to recall it.

3. I found it very difficult to get someone's name when their name tag was turned around or they wore it on their hip instead of around their waist. Frankly, I think it's a dead give-away to have to ask because it's just not the kind of place where one WOULD ask. I actually avoided an employee or two whose tag wasn't readily readable and just went to the next employee in the department whose tag I could easily read.

4. Isle/Bins in the warehouse area. I don't know if it's the same at all locations, but at this one, all the even numbered isles are on one side and the odd numbered isles are on the other side. Try to get all even or odd numbered isles and try to get low bin numbers. That way you aren't walking back and forth across the warehouse and you don't have to go too far down each isle. I knew this in advance and it saved me some time.

For Cirrus: It would be helpful on such a long report if we didn't have to answer N/A in a whole bunch of places. If we N/A about an employee, we shouldn't have to then N/A each part of the description, over and over and over for each department.

That's my , hope it helps.




MSPA GOLD Certified
Shopping the East Bay & San Francisco area since 1994
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Tonya7609
Contributor

San Francisco, California
USA
84 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2008 :  08:12:14 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MsJudi

If the report can be completed well in 30 minutes, I suppose it would be worth it.



There is NO WAY this shop could be entered in 30 minutes, trust me on that. No. Way. Anyone who says so is either lying through their teeth or they are not talking about the same shop. It's just not possible with the amount of input required.

I can say that if they streamlined the shop input it would probably shave 15 minutes off the report time, but that's about it. The report form has separate input boxes or pull downs for EACH part of the description for EACH employee: Name, Gender, Hair Color, Hair Length. There are also many places where one has to manually input N/A, over and over and over again.

MSPA GOLD Certified
Shopping the East Bay & San Francisco area since 1994
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Francine Bryan
Valued Contributor

Marlboro, NJ
USA
101 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2008 :  10:46:13 AM  Visit Francine Bryan's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Our company schedules for Cirrus Marketing Consultants.

I wanted to post a response so that shoppers are aware of some misconceptions regarding this assignment.

Yes, it is required you complete all aspects and shop all required departments for this assignment. However, this is true of any mystery assignment. If you don't follow the instructions of any assignment for any mystery shopping company, it will not be accepted by the client.

It is a detailed assignment, but we allow you to print out the evaluation form to bring as a "cheat sheet" with you into the store. There is really no need to make up your own cheat sheet.

It is NOT an absolute requirement to get each and every name of the employees you interact with. It is strongly encouraged to attempt to get their names, but a good description is accepted in lieu of a name where it is impossible to get one, such as their name tag being turned around. Your report will NOT be excluded if one name is left out.

The time frames listed above are not quite accurate. The shopper that posted previously did the assignment for the first time. While we appreciate tips for other shoppers, I do want to explain the average time estimates to everyone.

You may have to spend more time preparing for the shop the first time you complete this assignment (approximately 30 to 60 minutes), but there is only a 60 day rotation, so you can keep completing the shop and obviously, there would be little preparation time the next time around. As with any detailed assignment you take on as a mystery shopper, there is some preparation time the first time you complete that type of assignment.

As stated in the advertisement for this shop, you can expect to be in the store approximately 2 to 3 hours. The average is approximately 2 hours. It could be less if you are familiar with the store layout and have completed this assignment in the past. It could be more if you are not familiar with the store layout and not an experienced mystery shopper.

Typing speed really does not factor into the time spent submitting this type of report. There are narrative sections spread throughout the report, but many questions are yes / no answers and it will take more time to complete the report the first time you complete the assignment, since it is unfamiliar to you. The average time spent submitting the report is approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Again, each shopper is different. Some shoppers input their report in as little as 30 minutes. Others take much longer.

I hope I have explained the assignment a little better and cleared up some misconceptions about the shop. All shoppers are entitled to their own opinion. We have hundreds of shoppers that enjoy doing this type of assignment on a regular basis. Hopefully this information helps shoppers determine whether they would like to try it for themselves, without being scared away from one shopper's experience.
Thank you!

Francine Bryan
scheduler@qualityscheduling.com
Quality Scheduling Group LLC
www.qualityscheduling.com

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Tonya7609
Contributor

San Francisco, California
USA
84 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2008 :  1:37:27 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote

Francine, please know I'm about to vent, but hopefully you take this in the right way -- I mean this respectfully, but I need to give my opinion.

Me thinks thou doth protest too much. There's really no need for a blow-by-blow defense of this shop every time time a shopper writes a less-than-glowing opinion.

Yes, this is the first time I've done this for you, but I've done a similar shop at this location for another company many, many times. I'm not some fresh off the wagon mystery shopper, I'm a seasoned professional. I have SOME idea what I'm talking about and I was simply relaying MY experience. As did numerous other shoppers.

No matter how much you defend it, the fact is that the shop IS long, it IS difficult, it IS time consuming to enter AND unless a shopper lives in a very cheap part of the country, it pretty much ISN'T worth the pay.

Yes, yes, you've mentioned that you schedule 100's of these a month numerous times now. If some shoppers are happy doing them, fine, good for them and they are welcome to express their opinion here too; however, that doesn't make the opinion of those of us who report a different experience any less valid.

Part of experience of Volition is getting the opinions of other shoppers. You know, the ones who are in the trenches actually doing the work.

Thanks.
P.S. In true volition form, I expect the next entry to be from someone saying, "I do this shop and it's fun and easy."

MSPA GOLD Certified
Shopping the East Bay & San Francisco area since 1994
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MsKatyJ
Apprentice

Phoenix, AZ
USA
4 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  07:05:46 AM  Send MsKatyJ an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Hi Thought I would give some current feedback on this Company.
I have done several Apartment shops for this company. They
have awesome schedulers, the forms are simple and straightforward.
I have tried applying for the furniture store shops but have never gotten one. Maybe because I have a 9 rating? I also just got MSPA certified.
Payment is slow, but no reimbursements, so no big deal.
I value the feedback that the editors have given me to allow me to grow as a shopper.
All in all a good company!!!


MSPA Silver Certified and Happily Shopping Arizona
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Camille Brown
Valued Contributor

Springfield, MO
USA
219 Posts

Posted - 12/24/2008 :  05:07:05 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I did an apartment shop for this company on August 19 and received a 10 rating. The shop was relatively easy and enjoyable. PayPal payment is processed one month after the end of the month the job was performed in according to the site. When payment was not received by 10/24 I thought I might have failed to send in an invoice at the end of the month since this was my first shop for Cirrus. I requested and emailed an invoice. On 12/01 I inquired and was told the invoice had not been received. I was told to fill one out and payment would be made the next payment cycle, around the 15th of December. I resent the copy in my documents file. On 12/17 I inquired and was told payment should go out any day. On 12/22 I inquired again. On 12/23 payment was posted. Perhaps this is a one time thing. It certainly is for me.

Camille Brown
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Patty in NY
Member

Rockaway, NY
USA
23 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2009 :  1:47:32 PM  Visit Patty in NY's Homepage  Send Patty in NY an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I shopped this furniture store about a month ago. On a weekend, right before the holidays and not knowing the store, or the layout only made it much more difficult. It is a very labor intensive shop, even if I had known the layout. The shop is very long, the report is just as long, and each answer requires a narrative.
I'm one of those who did not receive payment even though Cirrus was happy with my report.

What I think everyone forgets here is that Cirrus (or any company we contract jobs from) doesn't make the final call, the client does. I knew when I was working on the report that this job was going to come back to haunt me. Although I wasn't paid, the client should have at least reimbursed me for the food that had to be purchased, there was no complaint about that part of my report. Actually the client only complained about 3 things out of the entire report.

Do I blame Cirrus? Absolutely not. Did I find the client to be extremely rude and arrogant? Absolutely yes. Do I believe that the client looks for reasons not to pay the shopper and/or Cirrus. Yes I do. Did the client even care that I injured myself on something of theirs, which I wrote in the report? Absolutely not. But when the client stated that he watched the overhead video to confirm something in one of my narratives and basically called my husband a liar, (who by the way ended up helping me in the end because I was in so much pain) that woke me up to what type of people they really are. What the client didn't realize when he made that statement was he only SAW what the overhead camera can show you, I had the audio of what was actually said, smile or no smile. (long story) lol

What I'm trying to say is don't blame Cirrus for the faults of this particular client, blame the client. They approve, add and subtract what they want to see on their reports that to out to us, they make the final decision on the one we submit at the end of the day. At least that is my 2 cents

Patty
Office Manager by day and a Mystery by night (and weekends).
MSPA Silver Certified
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CarrieMK
Member

RI
USA
39 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2009 :  5:53:01 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I did this furniture shop on 11/8. Is it normal to not have been paid yet?
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MsJudi
Star Contributor

New Jersey
USA
582 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2009 :  6:53:35 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Another reason for pause with these shops is they take 3 months to pay

Judi
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MicheleinFLA
Star Contributor

FL
USA
334 Posts

Posted - 01/14/2009 :  04:17:33 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I got paid in less than a month. The first time I shopped for them I forgot to email the expense report and it took longer.

Michele
MSPA Gold Certified
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